Italy is another giant as concerns World football and are the current holders of the world cup. Italy has appeared in the World cup tournament 16 times.
Their triumphant win over France in 2006 finals gave them the trophy, the fourth time. They were winners of the final in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006 meaning they are the second to have won the World cup trophy up to four times after Brazil. They were also runners-up in 1970 and 1994.
Their ticket to the World cup 2010 in South Africa came when they finished top of their qualifying group without losing a game. But three draws and some lacklustre performances from the ageing team led to media criticism. A handful of younger players could make the World Cup squad.
COACH: Marcello Lippi led Italy to World Cup glory in 2006 before resigning and then returning after Roberto Donadoni's sacking following a poor Euro 2008.
The former Juventus coach was hailed in 2006 after using a match-fixing scandal engulfing the country to bring his players together and guide a modest side to victory. Has since lost some public backing after refusing to pick Sampdoria playmaker Antonio Cassano.
Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan): Aged 30 and plays in the midfield. The World Cup winner has recently played much further forward for Italy than Milan and is the side's main creative force given Cassano has been overlooked. His form has dipped in the last few years but is still a pass master.
Fabio Cannavaro (Juventus): Aged 36 and plays in the defence. The most-capped Italian player of all time will almost certainly quit international football after the World Cup but the tough-tackling, calm captain is determined to do well after missing Euro 2008 through injury.
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus): Aged 31 and is the goalkeeper. Still regarded in Italy as the world's best goalkeeper, he rarely makes a mistake and can pull off remarkable saves despite suffering a string of niggles.
Italy which is 4th as of FIFA ranking in November 2009 and current holders of the cup is a long way from being favourites because of a lack of creativity and an unsettled strike force. Florentina's Alberto Gilardino is likely to be their main striker in a 4-4-2 formation with the fitness of Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio