Operation Defend the Crown
Marcello Lippi is trying to do something that only one other man in World Cup history was able to do. Vittorio Pozzo (also Italian) won two consecutive World Cups as manager of the Azurri. Nobody else has ever been the repeat champion as coach. Lippi will try to join the legend this summer in the achievement and the Italian skipper has won over 30 straight matches without conceding a single loss for the Italian giants. If Lippi achieves such a feat not even Pozzo could be ranked ahead of the man. After all the game has certainly evolved since the original World Cup in 1934.
The Plan of Attack:
The Italians are keen to use their 4-4-2 formation that is considered more defensive minded then most other giants. They will likely play four back line fullbacks, four midfielder with two center forwards (one defensive minded), and two strikers up top. The team has plenty of fresh faces and few superstars returning from the 2006 Germany glory.
The Key Troops:
Gianluigi Buffon is the last line of defense and the Italian wall knows all about performing clutch in the World Cup as the defensive staple of the nation in 2006. The superstar keeper will be aided defensively by Giorgio Chiellini and Fabio Cannavaro. Andrea Pirlo is the offensive star of the midfield and Daniele De Rossi is the defensive minded star that was the Best Domestic in Serie A last year. Gilardino is the most recognizable forward along with Di Natale.
Italy knows what it takes to win it all and they still do have a few key ingredients to get the job done including a goalie as good as any in the tournament. Add a team that has more depth than just about any (over 30 different footballers were called up in the WCQ) and the fact that they didn’t lose a single WCQ and they just might have what it takes to repeat in the modern day.
Juventus stars dominate the back side of the Azurri lineup and the club was horrible this year and problematic on defense. Add on to this the fact that hardly any of their forwards were on the team last Cup and you could have a potential problem in Italy. Now many of these young guys are hungry for a solid Cup run, but no Totti, Del Piero, and Toni means that the Italian team of last Cup only has a few returning stars.
Final War Movie Rank:
With ferocious defense, a plethora of talented defensive minded players, and considerable depth, this Italian side plays up to the positive movie title of The Dirty Dozen. But if Lippi’s men disappoint and come up flat by not putting the ball into the net then many Italian fans will brand the defending champs as a House of Fools for not including many of last Cup’s legends.
photo credit: Abdullah AL-Naser