Chelsea defender: Italy can win World Cup

De Rossi Tackle On Rooney - England v Italy Euro 2012

David Luiz believes Italy are amongst the top contenders for next summer’s World Cup in his homeland.

The Chelsea centre-back was in the starting line-up for Brazil as they defeated the Azzurri 4-2 in the group stage of the Confederations Cup in late June, playing 34 minutes before being forced from the pitch with a knock to his right leg.

However, the 26-year-old has admitted he was impressed with what he had seen from the Italians in his limited action against them, highlighting a trio of players as particular threats in Cesare Prandelli’s set up in Andrea Pirlo, Antonio Candreva and Mario Balotelli.

"Pirlo is an artist with his feet and Candreva impressed me so much at the Confederations Cup," he said. "I did not know him that well but he has shown he has great quality.

"And Balotelli, he is a special guy with a great talent. With the ball at his feet he can do anything because he is very strong both technically and physically.

"He can make the difference. I learned that on those occasions when I played against Italy or Manchester City."

Italy have done well in recent tournaments after 2010’s World Cup debacle in South Africa, in which La Nazionale followed up their 2006 triumph with a humiliating group stage exit, reaching the final of Euro 2012 after going through England and Germany in the knockout rounds and recording a third place finish in last summer’s Confederations Cup.

And Luiz sees Prandelli’s side, which came though Group B unbeaten in qualifying for the upcoming spectacle in Brazil only to just miss out on a top seed, as the genuine article given the nation’s penchant for performing on the big stage.

"He [Prandelli] has a fantastic team, which plays good football," Luiz continued.

"They have the right mindset to tackle the big tournaments because they can count on players who know and live with the pressures that come with remarkable technique. When you play Italy, you are never the favourites.

"Italy do not have four stars on their shirts by chance. Lifting the World Cup four times must be respected. They are going to be a great opponent.

"A Brazil-Italy final? Why not? Just as long as it finishes as it did in 1994! Seriously, Italy can get to the final, maybe even win the final."

Italy’s record of four World Cup titles is bested only by Luiz’s Brazil with five, meaning the Azzurri could match the Selecao with a conquest on the South Americans’ home soil.

The two nations have twice contested a World Cup final, in 1970 and 1994, with Brazil winning both times, the former 4-1 in Mexico City and the latter on penalties following Roberto Baggio’s famous miss from the spot in Pasadena to close out a scoreless 120 minutes of football.

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