Following the Calciopoli scandal of 2006, Italian football has fallen foul of expectations domestically with the finance propping up other European leagues having not made its way to Serie A. This has also caused the perception of the Italian national team to worsen significantly since the Azzurri's triumph at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
What followed was a disastrous World Cup campaign in South Africa under Marcello Lippi's tutelage, where the defending champions failed to progress from the group stage. Since then, it has been Cesare Prandelli's aim to restore Italy's battered reputation and take the Azzurri back to the top table of world football.
Prandelli's methodical approach to balancing squad morale with discipline has seen Italy improve dramatically. Introducing young players to an ageing team in 2010 was the first step in transforming their fortunes despite building the footballing system around a player now in his mid-30s (Andrea Pirlo).
The noticeable upturn in fortunes has been characterised by displays in the last two summer tournaments. Reaching the final of Euro 2012 took the whole continent by surprise, as did the Italians’ ability to match favourites Spain in the tournament opener.
The heavy 4-0 defeat to Spain in the final hit Prandelli hard, and he set about refining his system to ensure such a defeat didn't occur again. Twelve months later at the Confederations Cup, the Italians impressed once again with midfield axis Pirlo pulling the strings in every creative way. It was only through the cruel nature of penalties that the Azzurri couldn't overcome Spain in the semi-final.
With the majority of Prandelli's squad having experience of tournament football, the chance of glory in Brazil this summer is significant. The steady improvements over the past two summers mixed with Pirlo's influence and the attacking talent of Mario Balotelli and Lorenzo Insigne give Italy the ability to overcome any opponent.
Finally the mental strength gained by three consecutive summers of tournament football gives them an edge over most in Brazil.