Cesare Prandelli announced his 42-man squad for fitness tests and medical exams this week for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The inflated squad will eventually be cut into a final 23-man list for the tournament beginning in June.
When Italy lifted the precious trophy in 2006, Palermo had four players called to represent the national side: Cristian Zaccardo, Fabio Grosso, Andrea Barzagli and Simone Barone. Since that tournament in Germany, no Palermo player has represented Italy on the World Cup stage.
The call-up gave us a chance to reflect on some of our Italian stars.
Arguably the best piece of business undertaken during Palermo’s relegation phase was managing to keep ahold of the former Chievo shot-stopper. In his 26 games this season Sorrentino has led by example. It is no coincidence Palermo have the best defensive record in the league with this man at their disposal. On the international stage he has never managed to climb out of the shadows of fellow Italians such as Gigi Buffon, Christian Abbiati or Francesco Toldo. Despite his popularity in his Serie A years, at 35 years old that call-up is looking near impossible, especially given the breadth of young talent coming up the ranks.
The Varese born wing back has been used in a squad rotation alongside Alen Stevanovic under Beppe Iachini recently. The Italian has still managed an impressive 26 appearances to his name. In 2006 Pisano received a call-up of his own, not quite for the Italian World Cup winning side but rather the Serie C under 20’s for a single game. Again, at 27 years of age it will take an impressive string of performances to see his name in an Azzurri jersey come Euro 2016.
Moroccan-born Oriundo Achraf Lazaar is eligible for the Italian team after moving to Italy in 2003. Since signing for Palermo in January he has racked up eight appearances as an understudy to Fabio Daprelà. A call up is most certainly too early at the moment, but the player has shown moments of greatness already in the Rosanero colours. Lazaar may have a big choice to make in the future should the young 22 year old continue to progress when Palermo make their well-awaited return to Serie A.
The Jack Sparrow look-a-like has made 28 starts for Palermo since joining the club at the beginning of the season – only Ezequiel Munoz has made more starts (29). Both players have been solid features for Palermo this term in Serie B. With three under 21 appearances from 2011 the Internazionale youth product will have to continue grinding out performances. Come 2018, Bolzoni will be reaching his peak at 28 years of age, the question for now is, will Bolzoni still be an integral part of the Palermo squad in Serie A?
The buzz surrounding this man has somewhat died down recently, but he has still accumulated 16 appearances to his name this season. The former Siena man made eight appearances last season alongside Francesco Bolzoni in Serie A. Verre has represented Azzurini at U17’s and U19’s level. It may be a long road ahead before Verre represents Italy but the young man from the capital still has the opportunity to represent at U21 level before a full cap comes into question.
Another Palermo loanee, 20-year old Belotti has represented Italy up to U21 level and will be within a good chance of getting another call up for the Azzurini. The super-sub has eight goals from 17 appearances (6 of which starts) for Palermo. Of all players in the current squad there could be good money on Andrea Belotti being the one player who does go on to represent his country in the future. It’s merely a formality that Palermo will purchase half of his contract from Lega Pro 1 side Albinoleffe at season’s end (an option made available when Perinetti secured the loan deal). The young forward has a great eye for goal and most importantly, the time needed to continue his development. It would be no surprise to eventually see this man in an Azzurri jersey.
The complete 42-man Italy list:
Goalkeepers: Francesco Bardi (Livorno), Antonio Mirante (Parma), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Simone Scuffet (Udinese).
Defenders: Davide Astori (Cagliari), Matteo Darmian (Torino), Lorenzo De Silvestri (Sampdoria), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan).
Midfielders: Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Daniele Baselli (Atalanta), Federico Bernardeschi (Crotone), Andrea Bertolacci (Genoa), Giacomo Bonaventura (Atalanta), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Marco Parolo (Parma), Romulo (Hellas Verona), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus), Andrea Poli (AC Milan).
Forwards: Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Antonio Cassano (Parma), Alessio Cerci (Torino), Manolo Gabbiadini (Sampdoria), Alberto Gilardino (Genoa), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina), Simone Zaza (Sassuolo), Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan), Pablo Osvaldo (Juventus).