Everything you need to know about the shebang in South Africa
Unsurprisingly, Italy will be at their most prudent when defending their World title.
Marcello Lippi’s only act of extravagance was to keep the country waiting until late into the evening on the last day to reveal which players had been excluded from his final squad – it was certainly more enthralling than any episode of Big Brother.
In fact, that should be the end of the entertainment value for as long as the Azzurri remain in South Africa.
Four years ago, the party left for Germany with the Italian game in complete and utter chaos, but at least Lippi seemed clear-headed in his objective – his side would have to react to ever-changing circumstances.
Now, however, it would seem that there will be a catch-all method of approach where the team ethic of sacrifice over creativity will be to the fore.
Throughout the squad this doctrine is enshrined and especially when we look at those player who have been left out.
Marco Borriello can hold the ball up and bring players into the game but the AC Milan man has been edged out by Giampaolo Pazzini who possesses similar characteristics but will run himself into the ground.
A year ago, Giuseppe Rossi was the only good thing to come out of a disastrous Confederations’ Cup, but Lippi must have felt that Fabio Quagliarella would offer more of an impact coming off the bench - especially with his ability to produce a long-distance effort out of the blue.
There have been suggestions that the squad announcement was held back to gauge the extent of Mauro Camoranesi’s knee injury.
If that was the case then Andrea Cossu was only ever going to be in the running if his Juventus rival broke down despite being the most creative player available to play as trequartista.
You know that creativity will be in short supply when Claudio Marchisio has been handed the ‘Wesley Sneijder’ role in the centre of a trio in support of lone-striker Alberto Gilardino.
The Juventus midfielder has never been considered a player for such a pivotal responsibility – one who can turn adroitly and create space in the Francesco Totti or Alex Del Piero mould.
It is in the backline where Lippi feels more at home and Mattia Cassani fleet-footed sorties were no match for Christian Maggio’s action-man at right-back.
In fact, it is the defence that looks the most inventive area of the team: Al-Ahli-bound Fabio Cannavaro needs protection against pace so Leonardo Bonucci could well partner the captain in the centre with Giorgio Chiellini moving out to a left-back-***-central defensive position.
Lippi has certainly taken a gamble on his heroes from Berlin providing a fitting swansong and even with the youth of Marchisio and Bonucci the average age of the squad is a month older than four years ago – 28.9 years compared to 28.8 to Germany.
Worryingly, it is only a month younger than the squad that travelled to Germany in 1974, having reached the final in Mexico in ’70 – and we all know what happened then - the Azzurri caught the first plane home.
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