Experienced Gilardino set to fire for Italy’s usual suspects
There was no place for former Manchester United striker Guiseppe Rossi in Italy’s final 23-man squad as the coach Marcelo Lippi chose to persevere with his 2006 World Cup-winning formula.
One of the survivors from the last campaign is Alberto Gilardino, and the Fiorentina forward is determined to lead the Italian attack having missed out on a starting role in the final four years ago.
Italy may be regularly chastised for their ‘catenaccio’ brand of tactical, defensive football, but this year, Gilardino can become the first Italian to win the Golden Shoe since Salvatore ‘Toto’ Schillaci in 1990.
Of the attackers left in Lippi’s squad, Gilardino has the best strike rate, with 16 goals in 39 international appearances.
And Italy have been gifted what seems to be the easiest of draws in Group F, so with the prospect of facing New Zealand, Paraguay and Slovakia, Gilardino is extremely generously priced at 50/1 to win the Golden Shoe.
Gilardino enters the World Cup in fine form, having scored 15 league goals for Fiorentina this season, while also netting four goals in his last three games for Italy.
Rossi, meanwhile, is one of five players to be cut from an initial squad of 28, along with goalkeeper Salvatore Sigiru, defender Mattia Cassani, midfielder Andrea Cossu and AC Milan striker Marco Boriello.
Lippi had already decided against recalling veteran forwards Francesco Totti and Luca Toni, while Fabio Grosso, the left-back who struck the winning penalty in the 2006 final shoot-out against France, also misses out.
Despite these omissions, this remains an Italy squad with a wealth of international experience, and one which should easily win Group F at 1/2.
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