Juventus left-back Fabio Grosso was the shock victim as Italy coach Marcello Lippi cut two players from his pre-2010 FIFA World Cup™ squad on Tuesday. Lippi trimmed his squad from 30 to 28 players, with midfielder Antonio Candreva also sent home.
The omission of Grosso, who has 48 caps and scored four goals, is particularly surprising given that he has been Italy's first-choice left-back for several years and was a key part of the World Cup-winning team of 2006. He scored the decisive penalty in the Final against France to give Italy the trophy. He was also a goalscorer in the semi-final, a 2-0 defeat of hosts Germany, and won the penalty that saw Italy beat Australia 1-0 in the second round.
However, the 32-year-old seems to have paid for his poor form in a weak Juventus defence this season, although Juve centre-backs Giorgio Chiellini and Fabio Cannavaro survived the cull. Lippi, though, insisted that he has no room for sentiment in his selections.
"I don't pick players in lieu of past service and that was also the case for [Simone] Perrotta and [Luca] Toni," he said at a press conference. "I called [Grosso] yesterday [Monday] and you cannot imagine how much I dislike doing that. But I have to do it and I do it out of honesty. It hurt me just as it hurt me for the other 14 [World Cup winners] with whom we had some great moments in Germany."
That now leaves just eight players in the 28 who were part of the World Cup-winning squad four years ago: goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, captain Cannavaro, full-back Gianluca Zambrotta, midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Daniele De Rossi, winger Mauro Camoranesi and forwards Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alberto Gilardino.
It was little surprise that 23-year-old Candreva, who has just two caps, was cut as he was the least experienced of the midfielders in the squad and has not been a regular starter during a loan spell at Juve from Udinese.
Four-time champions Italy will set up a training camp at altitude in Sestriere in the Italian Alps from 23 May to 5 June. They will take on Mexico in a friendly game in Brussels on 3 June and Switzerland in Geneva two days later.
The Azzurri are scheduled to arrive in South Africa on 9 June ahead of their Group F opener with Paraguay in Cape Town on 14 June. They then face New Zealand in Nelspruit on 20 June before rounding off their group campaign against Slovakia in Johannesburg on the 24th.
Provisional 28-man Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Federico Marchetti (Cagliari), Salvatore Sirigu (Palermo)
Defenders: Salvatore Bocchetti (Genoa), Leonardo Bonucci (Bari), Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus), Mattia Cassani (Palermo), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Domenico Criscito (Genoa), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Gianluca Zambrotta (AC Milan)
Midfielders: Mauro Camoranesi (Juventus), Andrea Cossu (Cagliari), Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Angelo Palombo (Sampdoria), Simone Pepe (Udinese), Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan)
Forwards: Marco Borriello (AC Milan), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Alberto Gilardino (Fiorentina), Vincenzo Iaquinta (Juventus), Giampaolo Pazzini (Sampdoria), Fabio Quagliarella (Napoli), Giuseppe Rossi (Villarreal/ESP)
*Please note that squad lists only become official after they have been submitted to and announced by FIFA.