Originally after the Confederations Cup I wrote an article about the players that I believe should be brought by Italy to the World Cup. Now that qualifying is done, I thought I would update my team. I will likely update again in a few months.
Here is my squad-
(1) Gigi Buffon - Is still Italy’s best keeper at the age of 31. He has been simply amazing thus far this season, and has again cemented himself as the best goalkeeper in the world.
(22) Fedrico Marchetti - One of the most talented young keepers in Italy. He is poised to be the second choice keeper for the Azzurri in South Africa, and may eventually take over for Buffon.
(12) Marco Storari - Has been one of Milan’s best players this season, and has been one of the most surprising players in Serie A this season. He has been playing at a very high level, and deserves to be third choice.
(2) Davide Santon - Was a revelation for Inter last season. He is simply a player with a very bright future, and he should get a spot on this squad. Santon has the ability to play at either left back or right back, and certainly has the talent to warrant a starting spot at right back.
(3) Fabio Grosso - Has been one of Italy’s most consistent defenders since the ’06 World Cup. He scored the winning penalty in the shootout that gave Italy the win. Always gives his best for the national team and he should be given a chance to perform.
(4) Giorgio Chiellini - Over the past few seasons has proven himself to be Italy’s best centre back. He still looks a little awkward when clearing the ball, but he is still an excellent player. He uses his height and leaping ability to his advantage, both defending his opponent’s set pieces and contributing on his own teams’.
(5) Fabio Cannavaro - Is likely to go again to the World Cup for Italy. If I was in charge, I would prefer Nesta over “Canna” but that is unlikely. Still a good leader, although he is not the world class player he once was.
(6) Domenico Criscito - Criscito is one of the best left backs in Serie A right now. He has a ton of energy and can sprint up and down the flanks the entire game. He can also play at centre back. Has the ability to push Fabio Grosso for the starting spot at left back.
(13) Marco Motta - Last season Motta might well have been the best right back in Serie A. He was also a key member of the Italian U-21 team, serving as their captain. He should be incorporated in the senior side, and should be given the chance to start if he proves up to the task. He hasn’t played as much as he should have so far this campaign, but he is still a class young player.
(15) Salvatore Bocchetti - One of the most talented young centerbacks in all of Italy, he makes this team over a few other talented young defenders because he also has the ability to play left back. He has a bright future for the Azzurri.
(19) Gianluca Zambrotta - Is still a good backup at this stage in his career. He should only be used in an emergency, as in if two of the other four outside backs are hurt. If he is forced into action however, he is a veteran who would be able to produce if he has to. A nice veteran to have around to serve as an example to the younger players on the team.
(7) Pasquale Foggia - Simone Pepe simply is not worthy of a national call up. Foggia is one of the best wingers on the peninsula at the moment. He is only 26 years old, and he adds the pace and flair that are currently lacking in the Azzurri setup.
(8) Claudio Marchisio - He is one of Italy’s most talented young players. He was perhaps the best Italian at the last Olympics and he has been magnificent so far this year. He should be strongly considered to start in South Africa next year.
(10) Daniele De Rossi - Is currently one of the best, if not the best, defensive midfielders in world. He is an assured starter, and he does a great job of winning balls and he has a wicked shot (that he is not afraid of using). Is a star and he will be a force, albeit not an overly creative one.
(16) Angelo Palombo - Takes Gattuso’s spot on this team. He is a very good defensive midfielder, and he is also a good team leader. He has been playing very well this season, and his team (Sampdoria) are surprisingly sitting at the top of the Serie A table, due in part to his strong play.
(20) Gaetano D'Agostino - He is a similar player to Pirlo in many regards, and he would serve as an excellent backup to him. He has played pretty well for Italy when he has been given the chance to perform.
(21) Andrea Pirlo - Not quite the player he was during the 2006 World Cup, but he is still one of the best deep-lying playmakers in the world. Will help to direct the Italian attack and will take the free kicks and corners in all likelihood. He does a nice job of creating chances for his teammates, and much of Italy’s success rides on his shoulders.
(9) Alberto Gilardino - Gila has played himself onto this team due to his very strong performances in the qualifiers. He has been putting the ball in the back of the net when it matters the most and he should have the chance to start at the World Cup.
(11) Giampaolo Pazzini - After his transfer to Sampdoria last season, he was one of the best strikers in Italy. He would add a goal-scoring element that Italy was sorely missing in South Africa. His partnership with Cassano, if taken advantage of, could be the difference for Italy in 2010.
(14) Roberto Acquafresca - Young striker with plenty of talent. He has yet to find his form this year, but my inclusion of him in this squad makes the assumption he will find it. He is a future star, and he could give some valuable minutes off the bench.
(17) Giuseppe Rossi - It would not be hard to make the argument that Rossi was the best Italian player at the Confederations Cup. He has a powerful shot, and is also to add creativity to the game. He may be of most use as a sub that adds energy to the team in the second half.
(18) Antonio Cassano - Ah, the great enigma that is Antonio Cassano. He may very well be the most talented Italians currently playing the beautiful game. Unfortunately, his attitude has historically matched his talent. Lippi has decided he can win without him. The Confederations Cup proved that this notion is wrong.
Cassano has seemed to have grown up a lot the last few years, and he should be included in the World Cup squad. He should be starting as the second striker, and he is everything that the Italian Team needs at the moment. This is the chance for him to save Italian soccer, and put his rocky past behind him for good.
(23) Fabio Quagliarella - Is a different type of striker than the others on the team. He has been a force in Serie A the past few seasons and he is a nice player for the national team. He is 26, and still has the potential to improve as a player, which is something that was far too rare in South Africa this year.
---Santon----Cannavaro (C) ----Chiellini----Grosso---