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Antonio Cassano heads in his only goal of Euro 2012 against Ireland.
If you need a man to beat a defender one-on-one, there may be no one on the provisional roster better than Cassano. He is supremely talented on the ball and can dribble a defender out of his shoes if he needs to.
Apart from his finishing touch he is notable for his ability to provide for his fellow forwards. According to WhoScored.com, Cassano had six assists this season and averaged 2.7 key passes per match. Those numbers are in keeping with the last two seasons with Inter (nine assists, 2.6 key passes per match) and AC Milan (10 assists, 2.8 key passes per match).
His abilities as a provider were on full display against Germany in Euro 2012. His cross—preceded by a wonderful turn that took the ball away from two German defenders—set up Mario Balotelli's opening goal.
His play with Balotelli could be another big factor. They have only played with each other for the six games of Euro 2012, but they had a decent rapport and worked well off each other, with Super Mario setting himself up as a No. 9 while Cassano roamed from sideline to sideline behind him to make plays.
Simply put, Cassano can break a defense down from the front and either finish on his own or set up one of his teammates to do the job.
Cassano will turn 32 by the time the World Cup is over. That's old for your average international, and that could be a major factor in the decision to take him or leave him.
Last year's Confederations Cup gave Cesare Prandelli and his staff first-hand knowledge of what the playing conditions will be like in Brazil. In a word, it will be hot.
Really, really hot.
Prandelli knows that he needs the best athletes he can have on the field for the team to be able to survive for a grueling month-long tournament in Brazil's heat. Cassano is pushing the age where that could become an issue—and conditioning has never been a strong suit of his either.
He's also not always the best of players attitude wise. The word "Cassanata" was created by Fabio Capello for a reason. While he hasn't often been as much of a problem child with the Azzurri as he has with various clubs, he still has a reputation, and he could go off at any time.
Lastly, Cassano hasn't played a national team game since the Euros two years ago. A lot has changed since then. Cesare Prandelli has diversified from his standard 4-3-1-2 formation and there are more wrinkles to the Azzurri's tactics than there were before. Besides Balotelli the forward line has also seen some turnover, and he won't be as familiar with this group as he was two years ago, when he was starting regularly.