Italy World Cup Roster 2014: Starting XI and Squad Analysis

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Italy World Cup Roster 2014: Starting XI and Squad Analysis
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Only Brazil (five) have won more World Cup titles than Italy (four), and the Italians will be looking to even things up in Brazil in 2014. Looking over the roster, it appears they have the talent to make a deep run in this year's tournament. 

But how will all the pieces fit together? What will be the starting XI? What formation will the team play? 

For some nations, the answers to those questions are pretty simple, as the level of talent dictates a pretty consistent starting XI. But for Italy, a team brimming with depth and tactical adaptability, things are a little more complex. 

At least against England, we know how they'll line up, per Bleacher Report UK:

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at the team's roster and starting XI and also break down how Italy might approach this tournament from a strategic standpoint.

 

Roster

Italy 23-Man Roster
Position Player Club
GK Gianluigi Buffon Juventus
GK Mattia Perin Genoa
GK Salvatore Sirigu PSG
DF Ignazio Abate Milan
DF Andrea Barzagli Juventus
DF Leonardo Bonucci Juventus
DF Giorgio Chiellini Juventus
DF Matteo Darmian Torino
DF Mattia De Sciglio Milan
DF Gabriel Paletta Parma
MF Alberto Aquilani Fiortentina
MF Antonio Candreva Lazio
MF Daniele De Rossi Roma
MF Claudio Marchisio Juventus
MF Thiago Motta PSG
MF Marco Parolo Parma
MF Andrea Pirlo Juventus
MF Marco Verratti PSG
FW Mario Balotelli Milan
FW Antonio Cassano Parma
FW Alessio Cerci Torino
FW Ciro Immobile Torino
FW Lorenzo Insigne Napoli

Football Italia

 

Starting Lineup

Italy Starting XI
Position Player
GK Salvatore Sirigu
RB Matteo Darmian
CB Gabriel Paletta
CB Andrea Barzagli
LB Giorgio Chiellini
CDM Daniele De Rossi
LM Claudio Marchisio
CM Andrea Pirlo
RM Marco Verratti
CF Antonio Candreva
FW Mario Balotelli

 

Analysis

Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press

If there is one thing you can expect from the Italians, it is flexibility. This isn't a team constrained to a rigid system. Rather, the Italians will likely alter their approach, formation and even their lineup depending on the opposition. 

That won't be a new mindset at the World Cup, as James Horncastle of The Telegraph writes:

Current coach Cesare Prandelli has been preparing his squad to have a number of their own ahead of this summer. Italy distinguished themselves by alternating the Juventus 3-5-2 with 4-3-1-2 en route to the final at Euro 2012. They experimented with other systems last summer too.

"A year ago at the Confederations Cup we often changed our play and surprised everyone a little," Prandelli told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Being able to change becomes a resource. For this reason we will work on two or three formations." This will of course depend on how Italy’s opponents line up. If for example they play two-up front, he will use a back-three. Alternatively if they go with a lone striker, he will adopt a back-four.

In other words, the starting lineup you see now might be the only time this collection of players, in this formation, features at this year's World Cup. We could see a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 from the Italians or even three in the back. We could see nearly every player on this roster make an appearance. Tactically, they will not be an easy team to pin down.

That isn't to say there won't be a few certainties in the starting group, though.

Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli will feature in defense. Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi will be present in the midfield. Those players—who often make up the spine of Italy, literally and figuratively—are automatic fixtures, one would guess. 

After that, however, the players that will feature and the positions they will take seem rather fluid.

If Mario Balotelli keeps his composure and is the dynamic player he is capable of being, it's unlikely he'll lose his starting gig. And Claudio Marchisio offers the team a lot of versatility and can fit in just about any scheme, so he'll likely be a regular fixture as well. Marco Verratti's presence alongside Pirlo might surprise some—they offer similarities on the pitch—but he really impressed in the friendly against Ireland.

Antonio Candreva's appearance in the starting XI might surprise some as well, but he should offer dangerous runs behind Balotelli and will find a lot of space to work with in front of the midfield if he remains in a centre-forward role. 

After that, Italy will be fluid, but few teams have their depth, so they can afford to be versatile. If the Italians choose to play wide in the attack throughout the tournament, Alessio Cerci is an excellent choices, though Antonio Cassano and Lorenzo Insigne also make sense in a 4-3-3. 

If they play with two up top, Ciro Immobile seems likely to pair with Balotelli in Brazil. 

Uruguay, England and Costa Rica have the unenviable task of trying to predict how Italy will line up and attack them. They have to face an Italian side with immense depth, with experienced leaders like Buffon and Pirlo and with explosive talents like Balotelli

The Italians aren't one of the main favorites in Brazil, but they are more than capable of replicating their 2006 triumph. If Prandelli pushes all the right buttons, they might just pull off the feat.

 

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