230 days to FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Seems pretty long way to go but as the club football seasons progress, the biggest stage of football will arrive in the blink of an eye.
And the qualifiers of all continents have already been played, the only matches left are the play-offs.
The previous World Cup in Germany 2006 was a memorable one, a competition which witnessed Italy clinching their fourth World Cup after overcoming France via penalties in the final.
Italy have already qualified for the World Cup next summer. But what are the things that have changed?
Let's not comment about their recent results, the only thing being analysed here is the Italy squad then, now, and possible selections for the World Cup.
This was Italy when they won the World Cup in 2006:
GK: Gianluigi Buffon, Angelo Peruzzi, Marco Amelia.
DF: Christian Zaccardo, Fabio Grosso, Fabio Cannavaro (C), Andrea Barzagli, Alessandro Nesta, Gianluca Zambrotta, Massimo Oddo, Marco Materazzi.
MF: Daniele De Rossi, Gennaro Gattuso, Mauro Camoranesi, Simone Barone, Simone Perotta, Andrea Pirlo.
FW: Alessandro Del Piero, Luca Toni, Francesco Totti, Alberto Gilardino, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Filippo Inzaghi.
The squad has changed quite a lot since then. Only less than half of the players in 2006 are left in the current squad—the latest squad that played against Cyprus on 14 October 2009. Fabio Cannavaro is still the skipper and is on the verge of leading his country to another World Cup campaign.
Francesco Totti and Alessandro Nesta have both retired from the international team but I believe that fans would love to see them in the coming World Cup. But chances are slim though.
Apart from them, the other key players like Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo are still looking strong and still capable of playing at the highest level.
And what makes the current Italy national squad still as strong is the addition of players like Giorgio Chiellini, Antonio Di Natale, and Giuseppe Rossi to fill the voids left by the past players. These trio are also expected to be part of the Italian squad next summer, providing that they are match fit.
And former Roma midfielder, Alberto Aquilani will be seriously considered if he performs well in his new club, Liverpool.
Not to mention that Luca Toni is also eager to get his place back in the national squad.