Four-time World Cup champion Italy will travel to Brazil 2014 with 22-1 odds in World Cup futures wagering.
Those odds may seem long for a squad that has enjoyed recent success, including a third-place finish at the 2013 Confederations Cup, second place at the Euro 2012 and an undefeated run through World Cup qualifying.
But their draw into a challenging Group D, alongside Uruguay and England, as well as a prolonged winless streak, has tempered Italy’s odds and expectations.
Group D promises to be the toughest group to pick a winner from at Brazil 2014. Italy enters the tournament as 3-2 favorites in group wagering, but is closely followed by Uruguay at 15/8 and England at 2-1. Costa Rica trails the pack at 50-1.
The Italians face England in their group stage opener; the 25th all-time meeting between the arch rivals. Despite the long history, this is only the second time the two sides have met at the World Cup, the last time coming in 1990 when Italy claimed third place with a 2-1 victory.
More recently, the Italians eliminated England in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, a defeat the Three Lions will be looking to avenge.
Uruguay also has a score to settle with Gli Azzurri, after being denied a place on the podium at the Confederations Cup, where Italy defeated them in the bronze medal match. While the focus may be on their battle against England, the Uruguayans cannot be overlooked by Italy.
Sporting odds of 28-1 in futures wagering and playing before more partisan crowds than their Group D opponents, Uruguay has emerged as a dark horse quite capable of competing with their European rivals.
Should Italy advance to the round of 16 as expected, with odds of 2-5 in group betting, it is difficult to say which Group C opponents Italian fans would prefer to meet. Italy has never faced Colombia, a heavy 4-5 favorite in Group C.
Nor have they much history against Ivory Coast and Japan, the two squads that oddsmakers expect to battle for second place in their group. The one known quantity among potential round of 16 opponents is Greece, who sport odds of 4-11 that say they will not advance.
A challenging group stage draw, a cloudy crystal ball of what may lie ahead in the knockout stage and the fact that Italy has not recorded a victory since defeating the Czech Republic in qualifying last summer all raise red flags for the Azzurri as Brazil 2014 approaches.
Odds, stats and rankings courtesy of Odds Shark.