Italy's Future: 6 Players with New Roles at World Cup 2014

Trent ScottAnalyst IIIJuly 5, 2012

Italy's Future: 6 Players with New Roles at World Cup 2014

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    After a surprise showing at Euro 2012, Italy has every right to be confident ahead of the next World Cup in Brazil.

    However, a lot can change in two years' time and such will be the case with the Italians, who are known to feature older players rather than their younger counterparts.

    In fact, if Italy had qualified for the Olympics, only two members of the current roster could even qualify without using up an over-23 exception.

    As such, it's always worth wondering who might find themselves in different roles come the summer (winter in Brazil) of 2014, as the Brazilians welcome the world to their shores.

    Here's six good guesses as to players who will find themselves in new roles by then.

Antonio Cassano

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    Current Role: Starter

    Future Role: Impact Sub

    Antonio Cassano enjoyed a fabulous run as the starter alongside Mario Balotelli at Euro 2012. The position capped off a wild roller coaster ride of a year in which questions were raised if the man would even play football again.

    However, it's hard to see Cassano holding off challengers for the role heading into 2014 and his speed will continue to drop off just enough to see him take over Antonio Di Natale's role as the super sub forward.

Sebastian Giovinco

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    Current Role: N/A

    Future Role: Starter

    Sebastian Giovinco featured briefly against Spain and Croatia but failed to click with Di Natale on the field.

    The newly-reminted Juventus man will have the chance to cement the second forward spot for himself as the foil to the more powerful Balotelli.

    If his performances for Juventus continue to improve, there's no doubt the little Italian forward could make a big difference at the 2014 World Cup.

Antonio Nocerino

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    Current Role: Substitute

    Future Role: Midfield Starter

    Much like Giovinco, Antonio Nocerino saw limited action in matches against Spain and England.

    The AC Milan midfielder plays a similar role to the one that he'd likely take up in Italian colors, the spot that will be vacated by Daniele De Rossi.

    Nocerino adds a bit more attack to the Azzurri line-up, which might be necessary with other midfield moves yet to be made still.

Andrea Pirlo

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    Current Role: Pass Master Extraordinaire

    Future Role: Paul Scholes-esque Impact Sub

    Andrea Pirlo became one of the darlings of Euro 2012 with his sublime performances in the tournament.

    Even a lackluster finale didn't disappoint fans as the Italian Maestro continued what had been a fine season after a move to Juventus.

    But Father Time is a grumpy old man and doesn't like to be kept waiting. Pirlo will be 35 by the start of the 2014 World Cup and with two presumably long seasons at Juve still to go, it might be that Pirlo will enjoy more of a late-match role along the lines of Paul Scholes at Manchester United.

    Of course, Pirlo could still start, but maintaining the pace (and his magnificent hair) might be a tall order by then.

Daniele De Rossi

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    Current Role: Midfield Starter

    Future Role: Deep Midfield Starter, Captain

    Il Capitan Futuro is a moniker that Daniele De Rossi has been saddled with for some time now, and by the time the 2014 World Cup rolls around, he'll have finally ditched the futuro tag.

    De Rossi will move to the deep part of the midfield when Pirlo is not in the match, becoming the deep-lying passing role that he has shown he can handle at Roma.

    Of course, if you ask De Rossi to go anywhere, he can do that too. But with the current construct of the squad, having De Rossi play deep and shield the back four (or three) would be the most logical place to have him.

Salvatore Sirigu

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    Current Role: No. 3 Goalkeeper

    Future Role: Starter?

    Of course, if De Rossi is captain that means Gianluigi Buffon is not.

    At 36, Buffon will likely want one more tournament to bow out to, but that means he will have to hold off PSG shot-stopper Salvatore Sirigu.

    Sirigu will be tested over the next two seasons as the Paris outfit attempt to show that their money-splashing ways are going to bring them success. Should it come to pass, Sirigu will be a key component in that charge.

    His performances in the Champions League will be a barometer of whether or not he can challenge for the No. 1 jersey of the Italian national squad.