Italy are the most successful European World Cup winning team with four titles as well as being twice runners-up. The last title was in 2006 with the other titles being won in 1982 as well as two in the pre-war period when the World Cup was questionably a representative tournament.
Currently ranked 9th in the World by FIFA they were not one of the seeds when the World Cup draw was made and were drawn with Uruguay and England. The group is considered one of the toughest groups with only Costa Rica providing modest opposition from the North American Confederation. Despite winning their qualification group without defeat they had two draws in the last two games which affected their ranking at the point the draw used for the pot 1 teams.
Recent performances include a creditable 3rd place in the 2013 Confederations Cup behind Spain and Brazil but beating Uruguay on penalties in the third place final. Italy have suffered two friendly defeats in 2013-14, losing to Argentina and Italy as well as four draws against Denmark, Armenia, Germany and Nigeria. Indeed Italy last won six matches ago against Czech Republic by a 2-1 margin in Turin.
Italy have two further matches lined up before facing England in Manaus on the 14th June against Republic of Ireland on the 30th May in London and then Luxembourg on the 4th June.
The 34-year-old midfielder Andrea Pirlo who currently plays his club football for Juventus is considered Italy’s best playmaker. Pirlo plays in a deep midfield position similar to Steven Gerrard and has been nicknamed l’architetto (“the architect”). Pirlo has 108 caps for Italy which is someway behind Italy’s most capped player, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.