Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

World Cup Preview - Group D - Italy

Nickname: "Gli Azurri" ("The Blues")

Absurd FIFA ranking: 9th

Coach: Former pro Cesare Prandelli

Match Schedule:

June 14 – Italy v. England (Manaus, 6:00 p.m. EST, ESPN)
June 20 – Italy v. Costa Rica (Pernambuco, 12:00 p.m., ESPN)
June 24 – Italy v. Uruguay (Natal, 12:00 p.m., ESPN)

Prospects: Italy have one of the most formidable tournament mentalities in world football, entering each major tournament with a relatively unfancied side and somehow muddling their way into the latter stages through last minute dodgy free kick calls and penalty shoot-out victories. This year is no exception, with an aging core including one of the most seasoned backlines in the business and only one or two bright young sparks up front. Still - you can never count them out; Italy will be there or there-abouts, no doubt.

Key Player: Juve playmaker Andrea Pirlo may be 35 but everything good about the Azurri still goes through him.

Youngster to watch: As someone who doesn't regularly watch Serie A, I'm looking forward to getting a peek at 21 year old Milan winger Stephan El Shaarawy.

Who Will Get the Goals: Italy have never been high scorers (which is why 70s star Luigi Riva is still their top scorer with a paltry 35), preferring to do just as much as necessary up front. Milan's mercurial Mario Balotelli is still the best scores of goals.

Who Will Get the Cards: Juve's Georgio Chiellini is in the grand tradition of Italian hatchet men.

Prediction: After Italy and England grind out an uninspiring draw in the opener in the swamps of Manaus, Italy will end up top of Group D, got on to knock out either Colombia or Ivory Coast in the Round of 16, before bowing out to the Dutch in the Quarters.

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