How Far Will Italy Go In South Africa 2010?
The Azzurri will be in Group F along with Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand. The Italians are notorious for their slow starts in previous World Cup editions but this group should not pose much of a threat. The key is to properly deal with all three teams, in particular Paraguay and Slovakia as those two teams can be dangerous. The Slovaks are led by Marek Hamsik who is perhaps still unknown on the European continent but has been making a name for himself with his solid displays in Serie A.
Besides the opposition at the group stage, the Azzurri will obviously have to see which teams will await them as they progress through the elimination rounds. The Italian national team will have to finish first in Group F to avoid the Netherlands in the Round of 16. The likely team to face Italy will be Denmark unless Cameroon can spring a surprise which they are more than capable of if they perform up to their potential. Italy should be able to overcome either team even if it will be a tricky encounter (particularly if Cameroon is the opposition).
Next the Italians will likely face either Spain (as top of Group H) or Portugal (second in Group G which Brazil will top) and the Spaniards will likely be the opposition in what will be a re-match of the Euro 2008 quarterfinal. This will be an intriguing clash with the Spaniards perhaps slightly ahead based on their talent, cohesion and of course the Euro 2008 triumph. La Nazionale can still beat the Spaniards given the Italians often are at their competitive best when challenged by prominent sides on big occasions.
Whether Italy progress will depend on injuries, suspensions and certainly the tactics employed as well the players used by Marcello Lippi. In the potential semi-finals Italy will face either Argentina or Germany for a spot in the final which will likely be against Brazil. Can the Azzurri go all the way or will the tough draw limit them to the quarter finals? Only time will tell as the tournament is often separate from events prior to it whether the qualifiers or other competitions. The form of the players and the choices Marcello Lippi makes will also be decisive in how far Italy can go.