June 1, 2006
Random World Cup Facts: Italy
Times Qualified: 15
Best Finish: Winners (1934, 1938, 1982)
YouTube Clip: Highlights from Italy's 3-1 triumph over West Germany in the final of the 1982 World Cup
Football in Italy: Italy is one of two nations at the tournament consisting entirely of domestic based players (Saudi Arabia is the other). Italy's top division, Serie A, is arguably the best league in the world. However, a match-fixing, gambling, referee arranging scandal has threatened the status of clubs like Juventus, AC Milan and Fiorentina among others. With possible relegation looming and with action not being taken until after the World Cup, a delay to the start of the new season seems likely.
Players to Watch: Luca Toni (Fiorentina) is an obvious choice as top domestic goalscorer in all of Europe last season, howeve, no winner of the European Golden Boot has scored in the following World Cup since 1974. Francesco Totti (Roma) is recovering from a broken leg, and his fitness may very well determine Italy's fate.
Chances: Italy are a common pick to win this World Cup, but their defense is in bad shape. They may struggle against in physical battles against Ghana and the United States. That said, I still believe they will win their group.