Nobody could have predicted at the start of the season that Torino’s Ciro Immobile would lead Serie A’s scoring charts ahead of the likes of Mario Balotelli, Carlos Tevez, Mario Gomez or Gonzalo Higuain.
None of the 24-year-old’s 22 goals has come from the penalty spot and barring some final day drama, Immobile will remain the league’s top scorer. Such a magnificent record has not gone unnoticed and a move to Borussia Dortmund is a possibility.
Immobile’s form has forced Cesare Prandelli to include him in Italy’s World Cup squad. Although the Neapolitan has just one cap to his name, he could be vital to the Azzurri's chances and a real threat to England when Group D kicks off in Manaus.
AC Milan striker Balotelli is almost certain to spearhead the Italian attack and Immobile would be the perfect partner should Prandelli opt for an attacking 3-5-2 formation. It is a potentially exciting strike partnership, with Immobile’s finishing abilities the ideal complement to Balotelli’s more rounded game. At every World Cup, there is one player who seizes the opportunity to make a name for himself, and this could be Immobile’s year.
The Italian top flight’s leading scorer came to prominence with Pescara in Serie B before a disappointing spell at Genoa and he is not the biggest name in Italy’s squad. When England lost on penalties to Italy at Euro 2012, much of their focus was on stopping Balotelli. If Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka or Chris Smalling take the same approach in Manaus, then the Torino striker could thrive. He’s just the man to be in the right place at the right time.
Immobile’s surname has been at the root of many jokes, but the all-action striker will be keen to have the last laugh. England will ignore him at their peril.