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With a good background of three World Cup wins and the best defense, Italy stands out to be a favourite among the present contenders. The team tasted success twice consecutively in 1934 and 1938 but the next win could not be possible until 1982.

india Updated: Jun 01, 2006 13:53 IST

FIFA world ranking 14
Coach Marcello Lippi
Group E Czech Republic, Ghana, Italy, USA
Previous appearances 15 times. Winners: 1934, 1938, 1982;

 Runners-up: 1970, 1994
Key player Francesco Totti
Odds 8/1

If the world admires Brazil for its attacking flair, Italy are the peoples' choice for the soccer nation with the best defensive tradition.

Not that they don't have the players to score. After all, you don't win the World Cup three times without scoring!

Their first two wins came as early as in 1934 and 1938. Then they had to waituntil 1982 when Paolo Rossi turned from villain to hero to give the football-mad nation its third title, scoring six goals.

Rossi was banned for his alleged involvement in match-fixing in the late 1970s. But in 1982, there was no one who could ban him from redeeming himself in the greatest possible manner.

Italy travel to Germany as one of the favourites. They have some fine players like Del Piero and Nesta, but none better than Totti.

Totti, the most underrated player of his time, could show his worth to the world.


Goalkeepers: Buffon Gianluigi, Peruzzi Angelo, Amelia Marco

Defenders: Zaccardo Cristian, Grosso Fabio, Cannavaro Fabio, Barzagli Andrea, Nesta Alessandro, Zambrotta Gianluca, Oddo Massimo, Materazzi Marco

Midfielders: De Rossi Daniele, Gattuso Gennaro, Totti Francesco, Camoranesi Mauro, Barone Simone, Perrotta Simone, Pirlo Andrea

Forwards: Del Piero Alessandro, Toni Luca, Gilardino Alberto, Iaquinta Vincenzo, Inzaghi Filippo.

First Published: May 25, 2006 19:17 IST