Italy have a fine tradition in the World Cup, having won the trophy four times (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006), only once less than mighty Brazil. The country has also reached the final on two other occasions, losing in 1970 and 1994 against Brazil.

The Azzurri usually exceed expectations one way or another, although in 1966 and 1974 they exited the tournament in embarassing circumstances. Italy have missed just two World Cups, in 1930 (due to not wanting to travel to South America) and 1958 (losing a playoff against Northern Ireland).

In South Africa, Italy on paper have a favourable group against Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia. They arrive after topping Group 8 in the European section of qualifying, ahead of Ireland, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Montenegro and Georgia.

The Coach

Marcello Lippi (ITA)
62 years old

This will probably be the last international tournament with Marcello Lippi at the helm of the Azzurri. Lippi reached the top of the world in Germany in 2006, but just three days later he left the national team as a World Cup winner – only Vittorio Pozzo and Enzo Bearzot did the same.

Lippi regained his seat in the dugout in August 2008, after Euro 2008 ended with the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) dissatisfied with coach Roberto Donadoni’s performance. The ex-Juventus coach is not particularly well loved in Italy – apart from the Old Lady’s faithful – and after the World Cup should soon be back in club football, perhaps once again with the Bianconeri.

Players to watch

Gianluigi Buffon
32 years old
Juventus (ITA)

Buffon was insuperable in Germany four years ago, yet this season he has suffered an equally as poor season as many of his Juventus team-mates. Rumours abound about a move to the Premier League and it is just possible South Africa could be his last major international tournament.



Daniele De Rossi
26 years old
Roma (ITA)

Marcello Lippi recently commented that De Rossi must be considered amongst the top five midfielders in the world. The 26-year-old has had an impressive season with Roma, so nearly winning Serie A and will be a key player for the Azzurri midfield, especially if fully fit.

Giorgio Chiellini
25 years old
Central defender
Juventus (ITA)

The 25-year-old defender is one of the few players that enjoyed a good season at Juventus. Chiellini is now a mature presence and will be counted upon to lead the defensive line, especially with Fabio Cannavaro’s miserable form this year.

Claudio Marchisio
24 years old
Juventus (ITA)

If Marcello Lippi decides to play a 4-2-3-1 system in South Africa, Claudio Marchisio will be a key player for the Azzurri. The Italian manager put the youngster behind a lone striker in a friendly against Mexico, but the experiment did not work out. Marchisio did very well within an otherwise embarrassing Juventus side last season however, and he could represent a "fresh option" in an ageing Italian team.

The view from Italy:

Recently Marcello Lippi has taken much flak from the Italian media for including too many Juventus players in the national squad. The Bianconeri had a terrible season in Serie A, finishing seventh, and basing so many of the Azzurri’s fortunes on their players is widely questioned. There is little expectation that Italy can repeat the success of 2006. In fact, reaching the semi-final would be considered a success.


Usually, when Italy win a tournament they do very badly in the next. In 1986 Bearzot, like Lippi this year, bet on the group which had won in 1982, but they failed miserably. A quarter-final appearance seems the most likely from this bunch.

Did you know?

In the 1938 World Cup, played in France, the Italian team were whistled for their entire first game, a meeting with Norway in Marseille, by anti-fascist expats. When the quarter-final came around and Italy met France, the French suggested to Vittorio Pozzo that his team should wear red shirts. Italy instead chose to wear black shirts in honour of their fascist regime and in spite an infuriated crowd, won the game 3-1 and advanced to the semi-final.

Group games

14/06/10: Italy  1 – 1  Paraguay     –   Cape Town
19/06/10: Italy  1 – 1  New Zealand     –   Nelspruit
24/06/10: Italy  2 – 3  Slovakia    –   Ellis Park, Johannesburg