Italy
© Foto-net

2006 FIFA World Cup champions

The Italians will have to come ready for full-throttle football as all the teams will want to take down the reigning FIFA World Cup champions. The Azzurri are once again steered by Marcello Lippi, the man that led them to a 2006 finals crown in Germany. After a weak performance at the UEFA EURO 2008 under Roberto Donadoni, Lippi has been called back to reinstate the side's dominance on the world stage.

Since their defeat to Spain in the quarter-finals of last year's EURO, Italy have made steady progress with a seven game undefeated streak, albeit against low-ranking opposition. Their difficulty against top-tier competition is still all-too-apparent, as a recent 2-0 friendly loss to Brazil attests.

Lippi's influence is not to be scoffed at, and under his two management stints the Azzurri are undefeated in 31 games, earning their coach the record of longest undefeated streak with a national team (he shares the record with Javier Clemente of Spain and Alfio Basile of Argentina).

With their incredibly tight defensive style, opponents are in for a tough time against the Italians who hold the lowest average of goals conceded in FIFA World Cup preliminary matches, an astounding .58 goals a game.

With a few key players reaching the latter stages of their careers, the football maestro will have to set his strategy firmly in the future. Although old warriors of international football, this will be Italy's first FIFA Confederations Cup. Along with Brazil, the Italians hold the most FIFA World Cup titles of any nation.

Coach: Marcello Lippi
Stars: Luca Toni, Fabio Cannavaro, Gennaro Gattuso