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Italy 2010 World Cup: The Nations Biggest Sporting Disaster

The Italy 2010 World Cup squad was drawn to play in group F. This group consisted of Paraguay, New Zealand, and Slovakia.

As current world champions of the 2006 winners of the World Cup, Italy was one of the favorites to go back to back. It did play out that way.

After finishing with just two points, Italy was eliminated from the group behind underdog New Zealand, which drew all three of its matches to finish on three points. The Italians finished last, making it the first time since 1974 that they did not advance beyond the first round.

The Italian press published headlines such as “going Home In Shame”, Shameful Italy” and “Ugly Italy”. They regarded getting knocked out as the nation’s biggest sporting disaster.

Let’s review the players who represented this great footballing nation in South Africa.

Italy 2010 World Cup Goalkeepers

 

Gigi Buffon playing champions league football for Juventus

Gianluigi Buffon

Date of Birth: 28 January 1978

Height: 190 cm

Shirt number: 1

Position: Goalkeeper

First international: Russia – Italy (29 October 1997)

Federico Marchetti

Federico Marchetti

Date of Birth: 7 February 1983

Height: 188 cm

Shirt number: 12

Position: Goalkeeper

First international: Italy – Northern Ireland (6 June 2009)

Federico Marchetti, 27, now considered Gianluigi Buffon’s natural heir, had to toil in Italy’s lower leagues for six years before making a name for himself. His patience and dedication are finally paying off, though, in truth, he is anything but a keeper by vocation.

The athletic Venice native with the impressive tattoo collection started in football as a striker. “I got stuck upfront because I had a good shot,” he said. “The day I went in goal, I was won over, though.”

Marchetti first began capturing people’s attention at the age of 23 in 2006 while wearing the gloves for modest Serie B outfit Albinoleffe. In less than a season, he had seized the goalkeeper’s position as his own, putting him on the radar of Italy 2010 World Cup coach Marcello Lippi, who has a keen eye for young Italian talent.

The No1 eventually cracked Serie A with Cagliari in 2008, then aged 25, and he continued winning admirers for his powerful aerial interventions and confident ball handling. In addition to his spectacular and courageous surges off his line to stop opposition forwards. The 2008/09 season was Marchetti’s breakout season and marked the start of his incredible rise.

Lippi handed him a first senior Italy cap on 6 July 2009, the newcomer having never turned out for his country at any level. Buffon was the first to congratulate him on what seemed a surprise selection to some outsiders. “Gigi is my idol,” responded Marchetti.

Despite interest from the country’s leading clubs, Marchetti decided to stay on for another season at Cagliari. On 22 October 2009, Marchetti was named Italy’s Goalkeeper of the Year. He is now firmly installed as first in line to Buffon’s throne for the world champions.

Morgan De Sanctis

Morgan De Sanctis

Date of Birth: 26 March 1977

Height: 190 cm

Shirt number: 14

Position: Goalkeeper

First international: Italy – Iceland (30 March 2005)

Morgan De Sanctis might have taken a while to reach the top, but he has now established himself as Italy’s third goalkeeper behind Gianluigi Buffon and Marco Amelia.

Nurtured by Pescara in his formative years, De Sanctis made his debut in a Serie B match against Venice at the age of 17. Named in the side after the first and second-choice goalkeepers were ruled out through injury, he took his opportunity with both hands, saving a penalty taken by a young Christian Vieri.

The next notable step in his long career involved a record transfer to Juventus three years later. But, again, he has been denied a chance to impress. However, he stayed just two years in Turin after making three appearances. A first-team opening eventually came at Udinese, where he played over 200 games between 1999 and 2007.

An athletic shot-stopper who likes to command the box, De Sanctis was a UEFA European U-21 Championship winner in 2000 and made his full debut in 2005. On standby for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany, he gained a place in Roberto Donadoni’s squad for UEFA EURO 2008, consolidating his position as Buffon’s second understudy with an appearance against Greece in November 2008.

Italy 2010 World Cup Defenders

 

Christian Maggio

Christian Maggio

Date of Birth: 11 February 1982

Height: 184 cm

Shirt number: 2

Position: Defender

First international: Greece – Italy (19 November 2008)

Given his grounding in the game under the tutelage of Edy Reja at Vicenza, Christian Maggio first got to grips with Serie A at the tender age of 18. In addition to being a versatile presence on the right-wing, where he can play either as a full-back or as a winger, Maggio is a noted grafter and one of the top prospects of his generation.

After a short stay at Fiorentina and a loan spell with Treviso, he developed a whole new dimension to his game upon joining Sampdoria in 2006. Fitting in perfectly with the club’s tactical approach, he enjoyed more and more space on the right flank and weighed in with nine goals from 29 appearances in 2007/08.

Those showings prompted a reunion with Reja at Napoli, where Maggio netted four goals during the opening stages of the following season, three of which proved winners.

The national side duly took note, and Maggio received his first call-up in October 2008, though he had to wait until 29 November the same year before finally taking to the field for the Azzurri. With Greece and Italy’s opponents in a friendly, the newcomer came on to claim his first cap as a substitute for Mauro Camoranesi to stake a claim for the Italy 2010 World Cup squad.

Not long after that breakthrough, on 8 March 2009, Maggio suffered ligament damage in his right knee and had to miss six months of action.

However, he came back strongly and continued making strides both with Napoli, for whom he rattled in several spectacular goals, and the Azzurri, winning caps against Sweden on 18 November 2009 and Cameroon on 3 March this year. His flexibility and potential to improve further make him a valuable member of Marcello Lippi’s squad.

Domenico Criscito

Domenico Criscito

Date of Birth: 30 December 1986

Height: 175 cm

Shirt number: 3

Position: Defender

First international: Switzerland – Italy (12 August 2009)

A left-footed player, Domenico Criscito is a coach’s dream, given his ability to operate just as effectively in the center of defense as at left-back while also possessing the versatility to patrol the left of midfield in a 4-3-3 formation.

Criscito took his first steps as a professional aged 16 with Genoa in Serie B. Co-owned by Genoa and Juventus. He then switched back and forth between the two teams before finally enjoying some consistent playing time with the side where he had made his start. He is popular with both the fans and club officials. He now looks set to become the Grifoni’s next captain.

In the international arena, he served Italy at every level as a youngster before being handed a starting berth by senior coach Marcello Lippi for the 3-0 friendly victory over Switzerland on 12 August 2009. After that, he was fielded against Georgia in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier and has appeared in the Azzurri’s last three friendlies.

His flexibility ought to make him a key member of the Italy 2010 World Cup squad in South Africa, either as a backup in case of injury or an alternative solution in testing circumstances.

Giorgio Chiellini

Giorgio Chiellini

Date of Birth: 14 August 1984

Height: 192 cm

Shirt number: 4

Position: Defender

Giorgio Chiellini is a giant defensive Italy has been waiting for since Paolo Maldini waved goodbye to international football. In addition to being an adept defender, Chiellini is a dominant presence in the air and adept at marking opponents out of the game.

After coming to prominence as a left-back in four years with his hometown club of Livorno, Chiellini made his Serie A outing in that same position with Fiorentina in September 2004.

A veteran of Italy’s UEFA European Under-19 Championship success in 2003 and a bronze-medal winner in the Athens 2004 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament, he played his first game for the national team against Finland just two months after his Viola debut. His upward curve then continued with a move to Juventus in 2005.

In 2006/07, Juve coach Didier Deschamps asked Chiellini to switch to central defense, a position he made his own the following campaign alongside Nicola Legrottaglie.

Having also shown his class in the Italy shirt, he made three appearances at UEFA EURO 2008. As a result, the recently returned Marcello Lippi now has the luxury of pairing Chiellini off with Cannavaro to form a formidable duo at the Azzurri defense’s heart.

Fabio Cannavaro

Fabio Cannavaro

Date of Birth: 13 September 1973

Height: 175 cm

Shirt number: 5

Position: Defender

First international: Italy – Northern Ireland (22-01-1997)

 

Salvatore Bocchetti

Date of Birth: 30 November 1986

Height: 178 cm

Shirt number: 13

Position: Defender

First international: Republic of Ireland – Italy (10 October 2009)

Salvatore Bocchetti is on course to break a whole raft of records. Naples native and former Ascoli youth player, who started as a defender, was called up by Marcello Lippi after playing just 25 matches in Serie A, including 23 with Genoa at the start of the 2008/09 campaign.

In 2006/07, the defender spent a season on loan at Lanciano in Serie C before returning to Ascoli and making just two appearances in the top flight before being loaned out again, this time to Serie B’s side Frosinone.

Genoa officials were intrigued by his displays nonetheless, and the left-footed player seemed to fit the club’s formation perfectly, which features three central defenders at the back.

After joining Genoa in the summer of 2008, Bocchetti quickly tied down a starting berth and began to progress at an astonishing rate.

“It makes all those sacrifices worthwhile,” he said. “It’s difficult to express my emotion, but I still have everything to prove.” Impressive at the Toulon Tournament for Under-21 sides, he was awarded his senior Italy debut in the Azzurri’s penultimate 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland, when he replaced Fabio Grosso in the second half.

Four days later, he started against Cyprus and has been a regular in Lippi’s and the Italy 2010 World Cup squads.

Gianluca Zambrotta

Gianluca Zambrotta

Date of Birth: 19 February 1977

Height: 181 cm

Shirt number: 19

Position: Defender

First international: Italy – Norway (10 February 1999)

A versatile, dynamic, and creative full-back, Gianluca Zambrotta started as a reliable right-sided midfielder who quickly earned a place on the national side.

An injury sustained with Juventus at the start of the 2002/03 season led to Mauro Camoranesi deputizing for him in his absence. Ever the pragmatist, the then Bianconeri coach Marcello Lippi later persuaded Zambrotta to change flanks and position to become an attacking left-back.

The transition proved a seamless one, with Zambrotta drawing on his stamina, technique, and crossing ability to adapt to his new post quickly.

He also appeared in the left-back position at UEFA EURO 2004 and has maintained his place in the Italy side despite changes at the helm. And although he switched flanks again in 2005, he has continued to deliver consistent performances for club and country.

The winner of two Italian championships with Juve, Zambrotta was on the losing side in the 2003 UEFA Champions League final and the final of UEFA EURO 2000. A FIFA World Cup winner in Germany in 2006, he spent two years with Barcelona before returning to Italy with AC Milan.

italy 2010 world cup

Leonardo Bonucci

Date of Birth: 1 May 1987

Height: 190 cm

Shirt number: 23

Position: Defender

First international: Italy – Cameroon (3 March 2010)

Bari center-back Leonardo Bonucci has been one of the revelations of the 2009/10 Serie A campaign, needing just a few short months to convince Italy supremo Marcello Lippi of his worth. Effortless, athletic, good in the air, and able to anticipate almost clairvoyantly, Bonucci is a textbook example of a modern central defender.

His emergence onto the national-team scene could barely have come at a better moment for La Nazionale, with former defensive greats such as Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta having bowed out of international duty and Fabio Cannavaro set to do so after the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Born in Rome, Bonucci joined the books of Italian giants Inter Milan at 18 years of age and made his top-flight debut on 14 May 2006 in a 2-2 draw with Cagliari.

With the squad’s strength at I Nerazzurri, the gifted center-back struggled to earn the playing time needed to cement a first-team spot. So, in the summer of 2009, he joined Genoa permanently as part of the deal that brought Diego Milito and Thiago Motta to the team.

Immediately loaned out to Bari in a co-ownership agreement, Bonucci thrived in his new surroundings and started 33 matches this term. Called up for the first time by Lippi ahead of March’s friendly against Cameroon, Italy’s final warm-up game before the 23-man South Africa 2010 squad was revealed, Bonucci did enough in the goalless draw to win over the FIFA World Cup-winning boss.

“I’m living a dream, and I hope it lasts until the end of the World Cup,” said the player, having previously never represented his country at any level and still unsure where he will play his club football come 2010/11.

 

Italy 2010 World Cup Midfielders

 

Daniele De Rossi

Daniele De Rossi

Date of Birth: 24 July 1983

Height: 182 cm

Shirt number: 6

Position: Midfielder

First international: Italy – Norway (4 September 2004)

Born and bred in the Eternal City, Daniele De Rossi is yet another product to have rolled off the AS Roma production line. The perfect foil to the revered Francesco Totti, his job in the Giallorossi midfield is to provide defensive cover while also trying his luck from a distance whenever the chance arises. And like the inspirational No10, De Rossi has a burning will to win and the character to match.

He’s progressed steadily and relentlessly. A European champion with the Italian U-21s in 2004, he also won bronze at the Athens 2004 Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. He was promoted to full international duty in a Germany 2006 qualifier against Norway just a few months later, marking the occasion with a goal.

Then, in March of the following year, he donned the captain’s armband for the first time during a friendly against Iceland.

Germany 2006 proved to be a disappointment, however. De Rossi was sent off in the group match against the USA and received a four-match suspension. However, after the break, he returned to the game against France and converted a penalty in the shootout.

National coach Marcello Lippi thinks highly of the Roma man, comparing him to England duo Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, and has made him a central part of his plans.

Simone Pepe

Simone Pepe

Date of Birth: 30 August 1983

Height: 179 cm

Shirt number: 7

Position: Midfielder

First international: Bulgaria – Italy (11-10-2008)

Gennaro Gattuso

Gennaro Gattuso

Date of Birth: 9 January 1978

Height: 177 cm

Shirt number: 8

Position: Midfielder

First international: Italy – Sweden (23-02-2000)

Claudio Marchisio

Claudio Marchisio

Date of Birth: 19 January 1986

Height: 179 cm

Shirt number: 15

Position: Midfielder

First international: Switzerland – Italy (12 August 2009)

A Juventus academy graduate, Claudio Marchisio has been a respected figure at the club from a very young age. Captain of the youth teams as he was rising through the ranks, the midfielder famed for his strong personality, is now one of Bianconeri’s great hopes for the future.

He made his first-team debut for the Turin giants on 29 October 2006. With Didier Deschamps installed in the dugout, he contributed significantly as the club ended the 2006/07 campaign earning promotion back to Serie A.

To procure more playing time the following season, he was loaned out along with Sebastian Giovinco to Empoli, for whom he made 26 appearances before returning to Juve at the start of 2008/09. Back with the Bianconeri, Marchisio was quickly introduced to the UEFA Champions League, taking his first strides in a 1-1 draw with third qualifying round opponents Artmedia Bratislava.

Identified by The Times as the tenth best young player in Europe on 14 January 2009, he has steadily been earning his stripes as a starter for Juventus, despite the club’s apparent wealth of talent.

On the international stage, Marchisio represented Italy every step of the way as a youngster and contested 13 matches with the Under-21s. In 2008, he took part in the Toulon Tournament for the U-21 sides. However, he only made one appearance before suffering a severe muscle tear that hindered his development.

Desperate for a player with precisely his attributes, Marcello Lippi tried Marchisio out for the first time in a friendly against Switzerland on 12 August 2009. He played against Bulgaria in a FIFA World Cup South Africa qualifier a few days later and returned to the Italy 2010 World Cup squad for a friendly against Cameroon in March.

Mauro Camoranesi

Mauro Camoranesi

Date of Birth: 4 October 1976

Height: 174 cm

Shirt number: 16

Position: Midfielder

First international: Italy – Portugal (12 February 2003)

Born in Argentina to Italian parents, Mauro Camoranesi became the first naturalized player to appear for Italy since the Italian-Brazilian Jose Altafini in the 1960s.

Camoranesi arrived in Calcio in 2000, joining Verona and quickly establishing himself as one of the best right-sided midfielders in the league. His performances attracted the attention of the then Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni, who gave him his debut in February 2003 and included him in the squad for UEFA EURO 2004.

In the meantime, the bustling Camoranesi joined Juventus, making his presence felt in various midfield duties, switching between a central and a broad role. A fine crosser and aggressive ball-winner, the hard-working midfielder can be relied upon to give his all on the big occasions.

His competitive qualities came to the fore at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, where he was an ever-present on the right flank and made a pivotal contribution to Italy’s triumph. Under Roberto Donadoni, he kept his place for EURO 2008 and has taken his tally of international appearances to 43, making him the most capped naturalized player in Azzurri history.

Angelo Palombo

Angelo Palombo

Date of Birth: 25 September 1981

Height: 177 cm

Shirt number: 17

Position: Midfielder

First international: Italy – Croatia (16 August 2006)

Angelo Palombo is one of those players who quietly goes about his work, completing his midfield duties with a minimum of fuss and sacrificing personal glory for the team’s success.

Palombo learned his trade at Fiorentina, turning out for the club’s youth teams before turning professional and making his maiden Serie A appearance in 2001. However, the financial problems engulfed La Viola forced his sale to Sampdoria shortly afterward.

Since that move in 2002, he has formed an essential part of the Samp line-up, playing over 200 Serie A matches for the Genoa side and establishing himself as a favorite with the fans. While not the most gifted or athletic player, Palombo never shows anything less than complete commitment and devotion to the cause.

A UEFA European Under-21 Championship winner in 2004 and a bronze medallist at Athens the same year, he graduated to international duty in Roberto Donadoni’s first game in charge after Germany 2006. Since Marcello Lippi returned to the post to build the Italy 2010 World Cup squad,  Palombo has been called upon as cover for injured first-choice players.

Andrea Pirlo

Andrea Pirlo

Date of Birth: 19 May 1979

Height: 177 cm

Shirt number: 21

Position: Midfielder

First international: Azerbaijan – Italy (07-09-2002)

Riccardo Montolivo

Riccardo Montolivo

Date of Birth: 18 January 1985

Height: 181 cm

Shirt number: 22

Position: Midfielder

First international: Italy – South Africa (17 October 2007)

 

Italy 2010 World Cup Forwards

 

Vincenzo Iaquinta

Vincenzo Iaquinta

Date of Birth: 21 November 1979

Height: 186 cm

Shirt number: 9

Position: Forward

First international: Italy – Iceland (30 March 2005)

Antonio Di Natale

Antonio Di Natale

Date of Birth: 13 October 1977

Height: 170 cm

Shirt number: 10

Position: Forward

First international: Italy – Turkey (20 November 2002)

Di Natale has often been deployed as a support striker behind one or two center-forwards due to his versatility, clinical ability, and superior technique.

Di Natale often served as a left-winger and even filled in on the right at the outset of his career, but as the years have gone by, he has moved infield and now plays in a position that is equal parts striker and playmaker.

Di Natale’s Serie A debut came while at Empoli in 2002. Soon afterward, he was selected by Giovanni Trapattoni to win his first Italy cap, making the all-important step up against Turkey on 20 November 2002. It took a move to Udinese in 2004/05 to change the direction of his career; however, the forward wasted no time in forging a formidable partnership there alongside Vincenzo Iaquinta and David Di Michele.

As if to demonstrate the point, the following year, he scored in four different competitions: Serie A, the Italian Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and the UEFA Cup.

Left out of the squad that overcame all-comers at the 2006 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament, Di Natale nonetheless became a key figure for incoming coach Roberto Donadoni, who preferred him in his starting line-up to Alessandro Del Piero.

The player repaid Donadoni with an impressive qualifying campaign for UEFA EURO 2008, scoring twice and contributing three assists in eight outings. Still, his showing in Austria and Switzerland was tarred by a penalty miss in the shootout against Spain.

When Marcello Lippi took over from Donadoni after that tournament, he also saw much to admire in a player who could perform in any attacking role. So he recalled him to face Cyprus on 6 September 2008. Again, Di Natale responded perfectly, registering both goals as Italy emerged 2-1 winners.

Against Montenegro, on 28 March 2009, he suffered ligament damage in his left knee. That kept the marksman out of action for the next few months, but he returned for the vital 2-2 draw away against the Republic of Ireland in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying and has not left Lippi’s Italy 2010 World Cup squad since.

Alberto Gilardino Italy 2010 World Cup

Alberto Gilardino

Date of Birth: 5 July 1982

Height: 184 cm

Shirt number: 11

Position: Forward

First international: Italy – Norway (4 September 2004)

Fabio Quagliarella

Fabio Quagliarella

Date of Birth: 31 January 1983

Height: 180 cm

Shirt number: 18

Position: Forward

First international: Italy – Scotland (28 March 2007)

Giampaolo Pazzini

Giampaolo Pazzini

Date Of Birth: 2 August 1984

Height: 180 cm

Shirt number: 20

Position: Forward

First international: Montenegro – Italy (28-03-2009)

English spectators already know all about Giampaolo Pazzini, having watched the forward score a spectacular hat-trick as Italy’s Under-21s beat their English counterparts in the first competitive match at the new Wembley Stadium on 24 March 2007.

A former youth player with Atalanta, who played alongside his friend Riccardo Montolivo, the consistent finisher and all-around talent, has come into his own since joining Sampdoria in January 2009. With Antonio Cassano, he now forms one-half of a potent and well-balanced strike duo.

Despite winning the Italian Young Player of the Year award in 2004/05, Pazzini has not always found life in the game easy.

A frustrating spell stifled that early promise at Fiorentina, where he struggled to fit into the team’s system of play, being asked first to support Luca Toni before being employed as a backup to Alberto Gilardino and Adrian Mutu. Fortunately, international-level coaches have always admired his pace and opportunism, and he helped Italy win the European U-19 title in 2003.

The Pescia native’s senior Italy debut came in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Montenegro, and he fired his first Azzurri goal with just 15 minutes gone. That assured him of a place in coach Marcello Lippi’s good books and earned him a reputation as the future for the Italy 2010 World Cup forward line.

 

Italy 2010 World Cup Coach

 

Marcello Lippi

Name: Marcello Lippi

Country: Italy

Date of Birth: 12 April 1948

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