Italy World Cup Roster 2014: Final 23-Man Squad and Starting 11 Projections

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 1, 2014

TURIN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 10:  Gianluigi Buffon of Italy gestures during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier group B match between Italy and Czech Republic at Juventus Arena on September 10, 2013 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Updates from Tuesday, June 3

Cesare Prandelli spoke about the decision to leave Giuseppe Rossi off of Italy's 23-man World Cup roster, touching on the striker's health as a factor in the choice (via Football Italia):

“I told him that it was a difficult decision because he’s an amazing guy,” the tactician told a Press conference.

“I repeated that several times – Beppe, you’re not in the 23. He’s always worked well with enthusiasm and desire.

“Prior to the match against Ireland I said that from a physical point of view he was fine, but I wanted to see something more from him.

“I wanted to see a striker that was playing as a striker. But I did not see what I wanted to see.

“The risk was too great. The easy thing to do was to call him up – you’d have all been happy.

“But I did not expect the reaction he gave [on Twitter]. The time required for a proper recovery just wasn’t enough.”

James Horncastle of BT Sport backed up that sentiment, speaking on what it would have been like had Rossi been injured in Brazil:

Original Text

The World Cup draw certainly didn't do Italy any favors. Cesare Prandelli's squad will have virtually no margin for error in the group stage, and the high-pressure matches start right away with a clash against England to open play in Group D.

As usual, Prandelli had plenty of players to choose from before cutting the squad down to the final 23. Just about every player on the provisional 30-man roster could have made a strong case as to why they should stay, but seven had to go before heading to Brazil.

Those that did make the cut should understand they need to showcase top form right away. The Azzurri won't have time to wait for players to find their game. With that in mind, let's check out Italy's final World Cup roster, along with a lineup projection and tournament outlook. 


Italy's World Cup Roster

Final World Cup Roster - Italy
GKGianluigi BuffonJuventus
GKMattia PerinGenoa
GKSalvatore SiriguPSG
DFIgnazio AbateMilan
DFAndrea BarzagliJuventus
DFLeonardo BonucciJuventus
DFGiorgio ChielliniJuventus
DFMatteo DarmianTorino
DFMattia De SciglioMilan
DFGabriel PalettaParma
MFAlberto AquilaniFlortentina
MFAntonio CandrevaLazio
MFDaniele De RossiRoma
MFClaudio MarchisioJuventus
MFThiago MottaPSG
MFMarco ParoloParma
MFAndrea PirloJuventus
MFMarco VerrattiPSG
FWMario BalotelliMilan
FWAntonio CassanoParma
FWAlessio CerciTorino
FWCiro ImmobileTorino
FWLorenzo InsigneNapoli
Football Italia


Starting XI Projection

Predicted Italy Starting Lineup
GKGianluigi Buffon
RBIgnazio Abate
CBAndrea Barzagli
CBGiorgio Chiellini
LBMattia De Sciglio
MFDaniele De Rossi
MFAndrea Pirlo
MFClaudio Marchisio
FWAlessio Cerci
FWMario Balotelli
FWAntonio Cassano
Projection; 4-3-3 Formation


World Cup Outlook

RECIFE, BRAZIL - JUNE 19:  Mario Balotelli of Italy celebrates with his team-mates after scoring his team's third goal during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Italy and Japan at Arena Pernambuco on June 19, 2013 in Recife, Bra
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Along with England, Italy is also joined by Uruguay and Costa Rica. While that would make it seem like a three-team race for two spots in the knockout stages, the fourth team (Costa Rica) always seems to play the role of spoiler at some point during group play.

ESPN Stats and Info rated it as the World Cup's toughest group:

The Azzurri are good enough to make a run to the business end of the tournament. Yet, they must be careful because an early exit could also be in the cards. The result is perhaps the widest range of potential outcomes of any team in the tournament.

Prandelli is holding an upbeat view of the squad's chances. Neil McLeman of the Daily Mirror passed along comments from the manager, who's already looking forward to the final:

I am not looking at the group table, I know that we have to progress into the knockout stages and we have to organise how to get to the final.

I want to get to the final, then, we will see what happens.

Generally, a coaching staff tends to take more of a match-by-match approach to a major event like the World Cup. But it's clear Italy is thinking big heading into play in Brazil even though it isn't viewed as one of the main contenders.

There are two areas where Italy can feel confident in its ability to match up with any national team in the world. The first spot is in goal, where Gianluigi Buffon continues to play at a very high level. Then there's the midfield, where the side features plenty of big-game international experience.

Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi headline the group. They have over 200 appearances with the national team and are going to provide much-needed stability in the middle of the pitch. Either Riccardo Montolivo or Claudio Marchisio will join them to form a terrific trio.

Though there aren't many question marks at the back in terms of who will start, the concern is whether not the group will be up to the task against elite attacks. A few times during the qualifying campaign there were mistakes that would cost a team dearly in the World Cup.

The back line, which is likely to be led by Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini, doesn't need to be the best in the tournament. Instead, it simply must remain reliable and avoid the key errors that can change the entire course of a match.

Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

Then there are the forwards. The projection is for a 4-3-3 formation, but it could easily turn into a 4-3-1-2, with one attacker dropping behind the front two. Either way, the onus will be on Mario Balotelli to lead the offensive charge.

And that, in large part, is why there's such a wide range of potential outcomes for Italy. It's always difficult to predict which version of Balotelli will show up—the dynamic attacking option or the forward who struggles to become fully engaged in a match?

If he plays up to his full potential throughout the tournament, Italy has a realistic shot of reaching Prandelli's championship-match goal. If not, it will be a struggle for the Azzurri to make any type of long run. Balotelli holds the key.

Ultimately, Italy probably hasn't received enough credit or attention leading up to this year's edition of the World Cup. It might not be one of the top choices, but there's certainly enough talent on the roster to win the title if everything falls into place perfectly.

The first step is coming out strong in group play. If the Azzurri can score three quick points against England, their chances of advancing will skyrocket and the hype will start to build.

As for now, Prandelli's expectations clearly remain high. It won't take long to find out if his optimism was warranted.



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