Picking the Best Italy XI of Players Not at the World Cup
Cesare Prandelli called up his 30-man Italian national team provisional squad for the World Cup but left out the following XI.
For reasons that are open to debate, the following 11 players will have to watch the most prestigious football tournament from the comfort of their homes.
That being said, leaving out many of these players shows the depth that the Italian national team has, as many of these professionals would start for other formidable sides throughout the world.
Here's the best Italy XI of players that haven't been called up by Prandelli.
GK: Federico Marchetti
Federico Marchetti had a bizarre season with Lazio after becoming known as one of the premier shot-stoppers in Italy.
In the past few months, Marchetti lost his starting place to Etrit Berisha, but he could still have provided Italy with a quality backup for Buffon.
Many will remember the Lazio man for his shaky performance in the 2010 World Cup, but he cannot be judged solely on a few games.
Defense: Domenico Criscito
The debate could be made that Domenico Criscito is Italy's finest left-back. However, he will not be participating at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Zenit St. Petersburg man was also left out two years ago after a match-fixing scandal, which he was later declared innocent of participating in.
It's unfortunate that Criscito won't be given a go, as he would've provided quality down the flanks either in the 3-5-2 or a four-man defense.
Defense: Davide Astori
Cagliari defender Davide Astori has proven to be a serviceable defender, however, he has never been spectacular.
Italy's defense isn't as good as some we've seen in the past, so it wouldn't have been surprising if Prandelli had chosen Astori as a backup like he did many times in the European World Cup qualification stage.
Defender: Angelo Ogbonna
Before joining Juventus last summer, Angelo Ogbonna was being used regularly on the Italian national team.
Since then, he hasn't been able to crack the Bianconeri starting XI and has lost his place on the Azzurri squad.
Ogbonna has shown flashes at Juventus but ultimately hasn't been able to out Leonardo Bonucci for a consistent starting spot.
Midfield: Giacomo Bonaventura
The 24-year-old midfielder plying his trade for Atalanta is destined to finally make a big move to one of Europe's larger clubs after impressing yet again domestically.
Despite being called up to the qualification rounds, Prandelli didn't see Bonaventura as a part of the main plans going into Brazil.
Bonaventura is another versatile player that can score, create and send quality crosses into the box.
Midfield: Alessandro Diamanti
Perhaps Alessandro Diamanti's decision to leave Bologna for Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande played a major role in Prandelli not selecting the mercurial attacking midfielder.
Diamanti has an incredible left foot and is one of the most dangerous Italians from the set piece. His creativity and unexpectedness on the ball sets him apart from many others.
Midfield: Alessandro Florenzi
It's surprising that the 23-year-old Florenzi was not called up to the 30-man provisional squad.
The multidimensional Roma winger is a high-energy player who can score as well as track back and defend and could have been a capable utility player in a myriad of situations for the Azzurri.
Expect Florenzi to be part of the plans in the Euro 2016 tournament.
Attacking Midfield: Francesco Totti
Even though Totti had a slight drop-off from last season, the Roma captain is still one of the most technically gifted players in Europe with the ball at his feet and could have been an interesting player for Prandelli to bring on in the last 20 or 30 minutes of a game.
Totti battled injuries throughout the season but was still wanted by plenty of fans to partake in the World Cup.
Attack: Stephan El Shaarawy
Injuries ruined Stephan El Shaarawy's chances of being part of a team that many thought he'd start in last season. As a teenager, the attacker affectionately known as Il Faraone scored 16 goals and became a household name throughout Europe.
Various injuries have stunted his development this season as he's rarely featured for Milan after undergoing foot surgery in December.
If he can stay healthy, El Shaarawy will once again start for the Azzurri.
Attack: Luca Toni
Unfortunately, age robbed Luca Toni out of one more World Cup with Italy.
The 37-year-old put together an incredible season with newly-promoted Hellas Verona, scoring 20 goals and nearly eclipsing the Capocannoniere charts—a remarkable achievement for a player thought to be in the twilight of his career.
Toni is still one of the most feared strikers in the air as his hulking frame is often too much for defenders to deal with.
Attack: Alberto Gilardino
Gilardino was one of the most surprising omissions from the 30-man squad named by Cesare Prandelli.
The Genoa striker has long been a favorite of the Italian national team coach, and he had a fine domestic season with the Grifoni, scoring 12 goals in Serie A.