World Cup Fever

World Cup Profile: Italy

Look at these old men!


Today finds Italy under the spotlight. They were winners last time, they have an average age of about 40, and they take football strategy really seriously. But, underneath it all, who ARE these people? Read on to find out… 

Form Guide

Only Brazil have a better World Cup record. Italy have won the tournament four times – in 1934, 1938, 1982, and 2006 – and, yes, they’re the current holders, thanks to some great penalties, and an astonishing headbutt from Zidane. They were unbeaten in their recent qualifiers, and if you fancy them, their odds to win the thing are around 15/1 on Betfair.

Classic World Cup Moment

Beating the great Brazil 82 team was NOT expected. In Brazil, the match still known as the “Sarrias Disaster” – named after the stadium where it all took place…

Main Man

Buffon will be as essential as ever in goal, but what Italy really need to win the World Cup is goals. Without Toni or Del Piero in the squad, much weight will hang on the shoulders of Alberto Gilardino – their top scorer in the group stages, which included a rather impressive 13 minute hat-trick against Cyprus. His Golden Boot odds are currently 49/1 on Betfair.

Most Intriguing Family Background

What do you get if you cross a discus thrower with a weightlifter? Gianluigi Buffon. Seriously. That’s what his parents did for a living. Then they had sex, and a great goalkeeper was born. Hmm, England need a decent goalkeeper. With that in mind, can someone please arrange for Geoff Capes and Sally Gunnell to go on a date? Tell them it’s important.

Best Nickname

Italians don’t really need nicknames, just their actual names are enough. Totti, Pirlo, Toni, Chiellini – how could you possibly improve on these? One man, however, does have a nickname, and that’s the barking hound Gennaro Gattuso, aka Ringhio (Growl) – so called, because he looks like an angry puppy when he plays.

Missing in Action

There are a few notable absentees this year, with Luca Toni, Alessandro Del Piero, and Liverpool’s Alberto Aquilani all left to book a fun-packed summer holiday somewhere nice. The biggest downer, however, will be the tournament’s lack of Totti, who looked set to go after teasing everyone at the beginning of the year, when he said this:

“If Marcello Lippi calls me up, if I am fit and if the group wants me, I will go.”

What a crock!

Strengths and Weaknesses

Historically, the strength of Italian teams boils down to great teamwork and a strong defence, and this one is no different. They grind out results, with their traditional version of chess-meets-football. On the downside, most of their starting players are deep into their 30s, and they lack a playmaker with real sparkle. Hence, they could be very boring to watch.

Current Number One in Italy

Ligabue, Un Colpo All’ Anima

To show your support…

If you really want to show your support for Italy this year, simply lurk outside the pub on a moped watching the game through the window, only occasionally pausing to explain to passing girls exactly how you would ideally make love to them.

Most blatant use of sex to sell football…

No, Martin Keown, this is not. Meet Laura Esposto! Phwoar!

If Lippi were a TV character, he would be…

Captain Mainwaring. It’s impossible to look at the Italian squad without being rather taken aback by how old they are – hence this hilarious Dad’s Army reference. The backline on its own boasts an average age of about 34. In football terms, that’s ridiculous.

The Spoiler Predicts: Well organised, but lack the firepower to really threaten. Quarter finals.

3 responses so far
  • John Swaine // May 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    On the plus side, another WC under Lippi means more attacking and interesting football!

    I got so sick of listening to pundits complain about Italian Cantenaccio when in fact they made attacking substitutions and threw men forward under Lippi.

    However, the Spoiler’s right – no Del Piero, no Totti, no Spark :/

  • Ed // May 15, 2010 at 7:39 am

    The Pizza Grease will coast through the group and second round, but have no chance of stopping Spain or Portugal in the quarters.

  • Roy // May 17, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    As an Italian I have heard these kind of comments and this kind of criticism before every single world cup i have ever seen since i was old enough to follow football meaning from 90 on wards. The foreign media always but I mean always underestimates Italy. England, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Holland are always supposed to be better according to you guys. I mean just look at Italys record since 82. ( And by the way before the 06 WC according to the english media italy was supposed to finish behind Gahana and Check republic in the first stage, and the final was supposed to be England Brazil )……anway here is stat fact for you.
    82 winners, 86 out group stage, 90 third, 94 second , 98 quarter finals, 02 second round, 06 winners. and yet Spain and portugal who like to play dancing with the stars with a ball are always supposed to do better. I’ve heard this to many time to take it seriously. Italy will always do well in world cups. those four stars on that shirt actually mean something. So these pundits just don’t get it and never get it right with italy, ESPECIALLY THE ENGL:ISH ONES. I bet just like all the other world cups you already stuck a star sticker on your england shirt. But your article was funny. I give you that.

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