Italy go into the World Cup 2014 as one of the favourites to win the competition after coming close in the last few major tournaments. Italy were criticised heavily during the last major tournament for the ageing squad and their inability to challenge at the top. This led to the arrival of Cesare Prandelli has worked wonders with the national team so far. He has managed to reduce the average age of the squad, while also getting much better results. Italy came narrowly close to winning the Euro 2012 after reaching the final of the competition.

This has made them one of the favourites for the World Cup title. Prandelli has sounded confident of winning this tournament despite being in a group containing England and Uruguay. Italy did extremely well in the qualifying campaign, but it was a false alarm at the 2010 World Cup. The nation managed to go through the 2010 qualifying campaign with a 10 match unbeaten run, but they failed to win every single match in the tournament itself. Prandelli said that there will be no repeat of such a record, as he is confident of doing well in the World Cup.

Prandelli has overseen the emergence of players like Mario Balotelli as a top player at international level.

“Our one is a really difficult group, with three national teams who have been world champion. The first aim is to qualify, probably as first of the group. Against England we have played a sensational game at the 2012 European Championship, but we didn’t score and we qualified at penalties. Against Uruguay we suffered in the second half of the final for the third place at the Confederations Cup and we won again at penalties,” said Prandelli.

Italy’s first match at the World Cup will be against England.