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Factbox on defending champions Italy

Colours: Blue shirts, blue shorts and socks.

Nickname: Azzurri (the Blues)

Previous World Cup appearances: 16: 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006

Best World Cup performance: Winners, 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006

Coach: Marcello Lippi

Most capped player: Fabio Cannavaro 132

Top goalscorer: Luigi Riva 35

Talking points:

World Cup winner Lippi has struggled to blend the experience of his 2006-winning side with youthful exuberance and few fans genuinely believe they can successfully defend their title.

Forwards Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli have been continually overlooked because of their "bad boy" images while a reliance on Juventus players after their poor season could dog Lippi, although he has refused to recall Alessandro Del Piero.

Player to watch:

Daniele De Rossi has come of age since 2006 and after AS Roma's stunning season the dynamic midfielder will be on a high with tackles and outrageous long shots bound to be flying in.

(Reporting by Mark Meadows; Editing by Clare Fallon; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

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