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Antonio Cassano returns to initial Italy fold for World Cup

| 14.05.2014
SPORTSBOOK ODDS

Parma striker Antonio Cassano will get his chance to play for Italy, 20/1 to win the World Cup with Coral, for the first time the Euro 2012 final, after Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli handed him a recall for the World Cup.

The pragmatic national manager opted for 31-year-old Cassano over faithful retainer Alberto Gilardino (Genoa) as the experienced partner for firebrand forward Mario Balotelli. As anticipated, there is a strong Juventus presence on the 30-man preliminary roster.

Azzurri captain Gianluigi Buffon and the Old Lady back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are included alongside playmaker Andrea Pirlo and fellow midfielder Claudio Marchisio.

Fiorentina frontman Giuseppe Rossi is also named in the squad after recovering from yet another knee injury. Prandelli has also handed first-time call-ups to Torino defender Matteo Darmian and Brazilian-born right-sided player Romulo (Hellas Verona).

Napoli wing back Christian Maggio is on the roster despite a recent emergency operation on his lung. AC Milan pair Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio can cover for him, while Zenit St Petersburg’s Domenico Criscito is snubbed again by Prandelli for a major tournament.

Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina) gets in, and is joined by Inter Milan’s Andrea Ranocchia and Argentine-born centre back Gabriel Paletta (Parma), who was once briefly on the books at Liverpool. Salvatore Sirigu (PSG) and Genoa goalie Mattia Perin provide cover for Buffon with Antonio Mirante only on standby.

Roma destroyer Daniele De Rossi naturally named, joining more elegant midfielders Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), another ex-Liverpool player Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), and PSG pair Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti. Marco Parolo of Parma and Lazio’s versatile Antonio Candreva are in too.

There is no place for Sunderland pair Fabio Borini and Emanuele Giaccherini, however, despite their heroics in helping the Wearside outfit stay up in the Premier League. Southampton-owned striker Pablo Dani Osvaldo has been unable to keep his World Cup dream alive during a loan spell at Juventus too.

Instead, Prandelli has picked younger legs as backup and wide options in attack. Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile from Torino are joined by Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne and Roma top scorer Mattia Destro in completing the roster.

Italy preliminary squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (PSG), Mattia Perin (Genoa), Antonio Mirante (Parma)

Defenders: Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci (all Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio (both AC Milan), Andrea Ranocchia (Inter Milan), Manuel Pasqual (Fiorentina), Gabriel Paletta (Parma), Matteo Darmian (Torino)

Midfielders: Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio (both Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Riccardo Montolivo (AC Milan), Alberto Aquilani (Fiorentina), Thiago Motta and Marco Verratti (both PSG), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Marco Parolo (Parma), Romulo (Verona)

Forwards: Antonio Cassano (Parma), Mario Balotelli (AC Milan), Giuseppe Rossi (Fiorentina), Alessio Cerci and Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Mattia Destro (Roma)

The Azzurri have been drawn in Group D with fellow former World Cup winners England and Uruguay, as well as Costa Rica. Prandelli’s team are 13/8 favourites to top the pool.

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Author

Jamie Clark

Athletics aficionado, die-hard snooker fan and Crystal Palace supporter Jamie has written for Coral since February 2014 after spells with Soccerlens and the Press Association as a digital journalist and copywriter. A former East Midlands sports correspondent and Bwin tipster, he is a graduate of both the University of York and University of Sheffield, with a Masters in web journalism from the latter.