The Team: Those of you who were exposed to my Japan preview recently have heard enough about the Mario Bros., so I will spare you further Italian stereotypes. Instead, I will educate you about the Italian National Soccer Team, or as they are known in their homeland, the Azzurri. They’ve been to the World Cup 16 times, and they won the whole damn thing 4 times. Their goalies are stoic. Their defenders are solid. Their slippery mids and forwards… greasy?
The Cream: OK, I couldn’t resist getting in one last jab (that’s what Clubber Lang said the night he killed Mick in Rocky III, by the way). So, who will stalk South Africa seeking a second straight Cup for the Azzurri? They’ll need Buffon to be unbeatable, Cannavaro and Pirlo to be healthy, and young Giuseppe Rossi to burst on the scene. But are they too old overall? Is this team anywhere near as good as the 2006 squad? Can they win back-to-back World Cups?
Why am I referencing Rocky III in order to make dark and irreverent jokes?
The Dream: The answers to the questions above are “maybe”, “probably not”, “ask again later”, and “that’s what she said”. The answer to whether Italy can repeat will not be given to us by the football gods until this summer. Until then, I will be sadly lamenting the fact that Marco Materazzi won’t be there to butt heads with the world’s best. If he were on the roster, I would feel better about their 2010 odds. But he isn’t heading to South Africa, so I will put them @ 13:1.