Is reigning champ Lippi throwing out a smokescreen with his selection?

Marcello Lippi has revealed that he already knows which 23 players will be making the trip to South Africa to defend Italy’s world crown.

Seven players will head to the pre-tournament training camp near Turin on May 23rd already earmarked for the heart-breaking news that they do not feature in the coach’s plans, but is the old fox throwing out a smokescreen as thick as his famous cigar smoke?

There could still yet be room for a surprise or two as the Azzurri boss attempts to energise a squad that on the whole looks well past its sell-by-date.

The goalkeeper situation is the most settled area of the team: Gianluigi Buffon will of course be the undisputed No. 1 and barring injury or suspension both Morgan De Sanctis and Federico Marchetti will not see any game time. But for Marchetti in particular the experience will be invaluable as the current Cagliari keeper has been ear-marked as Gigi’s heir at club and international level.

Palermo’s young shot-stopper Salvatore Sirigu will benefit from pre-tournament experience and is definitely an international in the making.

The problems begin to become clear as soon as we get to the out-field players and for a nation famed for its defensive prowess there is no embarrassment of riches.

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The fault lies with the fact that the old guard have not grown old gracefully, or in many cases done the right thing and stepped aside, which is also partially Lippi’s error on his return.

So going into the first group game against Paraguay we could see three of the heroes of Berlin plus Giorgio Chiellini shoring up the backline: captain Fabio Cannavaro will partner Chiellini in the centre of the defence flanked by Gianluca Zambrotta and Fabio Grosso.

If things do not get off to a positive start then there could be a complete reshuffle of the backline.

Leonardo Bonucci could come into a back-three allowing Lippi to employ two wing-backs such as Christian Maggio and Domenico Crisito to offer some much-needed freshness – such a strategy would probably see Salvatore Bocchetti and Mattia Cassani miss out.

The central of midfield will be another area where we have seen it all before, with Andrea Pirlo, Rino Gattuso and Daniele De Rossi all certainties but, Lippi will need cover which would come in the shape of Angelo Palombo, Claudio Marchisio and Riccardo Montolivo .

Out wide, Mauro Camoranesi will definitely make the final 23 which would leave his Juventus team-mate Andrea Candreva along with Andrea Cossu and Simone Pepe fighting for the last place: Candreva is the more versatile so he should get the nod.

There is room for five attackers but Lippi may feel that a physical approach is more of a priority especially as the tournament progresses so Vincenzo Iaquinta, Giampaolo Pazzini, Alberto Gilardino, Antonio Di Natale and Marco Borriello will be on the plane, with the flair players Guiseppe Rossi and Fabio Quagliarella back home watching on TV.