The Italian Renaissance Is Coming

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There's only one country that has been world champion more times than the Azzurri. Could 2014 be the year Italy draw level with Brazil?

If you'd asked that question back in 2010 people would have said you were crazy. Yet the last 4 years have seen a renaissance that is bringing back the joy and reigniting the dream. And renaissance is something that, traditionally, Italy does rather well.

Look at the last competition. Who kept their cool to beat England? Who swept aside the tournament favourites in the semi-final? Italy, of course. Before the tournament kicked off, no-one expected the Azzurri to reach the final. Yet that's exactly what they did.

The 2014 squad promises exactly the right blend of old wisdom and young energy. Chiellini, is still likely to be the bedrock of the defence. Buffon may well still be the best goalkeeper in the world. And a new generation will be reaching maturity at exactly the right moment.

Next year there will be a great dress rehearsal. Italy will be there alongside Brazil, Uruguay and Japan. Depending on the draw, it might also be the ideal opportunity to even things up against Spain. Most of all, we'll all be watching for those tell tale signs that this is a side who could go all the way.