Giuseppe Rossi recovery fails to save him from Italy axe
Former Manchester United striker Giuseppe Rossi has been surprisingly cut from Italy’s preliminary roster for the World Cup finals in Brazil, with Cesare Prandelli seemingly not prepared to risk his fitness.
Rossi, 27, recovered from yet another serious knee injury before the Serie A season finished, but the Azzurri boss has not place him in this 23-man squad, despite playing over 70 minutes of a recent friendly with the Republic of Ireland.
AC Milan skipper Riccardo Montolivo will also miss the tournament with a broken leg, while Prandelli has also opted to leave Napoli wing back Christian Maggio out after lung problems.
There is a six-strong contingent from Serie A champions Juventus, who won their third straight Scudetto this season, on the roster. Italy skipper Gianluigi Buffon is joined by defensive trio Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, as well as playmaker Andrea Pirlo and fellow midfielder Claudio Marchisio.
Mario Balotelli, once of Manchester City and now at AC Milan, heads the attacking options chosen by Prandelli, with only Roma top scorer Mattia Destro dropped from the preliminary squad. That means places for Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile (both Torino), and Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).
Balotelli’s Rossoneri teammates Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio will likely take the full back berths, with Gabriel Paletta (Parma) and Torino’s Matteo Darmian, who recently made his Azzurri debut, completing the defensive options.
As yet uncapped Mattia Perin (Genoa) will act as backup to Buffon between the sticks, alongside Salvatore Sirigu – one of three players from PSG selected. Midfielders Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti are the others making up the Parc des Princes trio that lifted the Ligue 1 title again this term.
Roma vice-captain Daniele De Rossi; Fiorentina’s former Liverpool man Alberto Aquilani; Antonio Candreva of Lazio, a favourite of Prandelli; and late bloomer Marco Parolo (Parma) are the last four names chosen for the finals.
Brazilian-born right-sided player Romulo will not appear in the country of his berth, while Manuel Pasqual and Antonio Mirante are also dropped, but Inter Milan centre back Andrea Ranocchia remains on standby because of injury concerns about Barzagli.
Four players – Buffon, the aforementioned Barzagli, De Rossi and Pirlo – remain in Italy ranks from the World Cup winning side of 2006 under Marcello Lippi. The Azzurri are 22/1 shots to win back the global crown for a record-equalling fifth time.
Italy have been drawn in Group D, alongside fellow former winners Uruguay and England, as well as Costa Rica. They are 6/4 to top this pool.
Final Italy World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (PSG), Mattia Perin (Genoa)
Defenders: Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci (all Juventus), Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio (both AC Milan), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Matteo Darmian (Torino)
Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio (both Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti (both PSG), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Marco Parolo (Parma)
Forwards: Antonio Cassano (Parma), Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile (both Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
On standby: Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan)
Dropped from the preliminary squad: Christian Maggio (Napoli), Giuseppe Rossi and Manuel Pasqual (both Fiorentina), Mattia Destro (Roma), Antonio Mirante (Parma), Romulo (Hellas Verona)
Injured: Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan)