Fabio Cannavaro – Russia has come to Brazil not just to make up the numbers
World Cup champion and the winner of the 2006 Golden Ball, Fabio Cannavaro has joined our group of experts for the 2014 World Cup. The Italian will give his thoughts and what he expects over the tournament, as well as giving his views on the Russian national team.
-Fabio, who do you think is the favourite to win the 2014 World Cup and who would you put your money on to win the competition?
— Of course Brazil. They are playing at home and Felipe Scolari has an excellent squad to choose from. They are both young and experienced. However, we should not forget about Spain and Germany. They are also great teams who have always been at the business end of tournaments over the last few years.
— What about Italy? Do you think the Azzurri can do well?
— We are not one of the favourites, but we usually manage to get better as tournaments progress. I think the current Italian squad has the potential to cause a few surprises.
— What can you say about Cesare Prandelli? How good a coach is he?
— He is a very good coach and is always presenting his football players with new ideas and is great to work with. I think Italy have got a good chance of having a good tournament. After all, we are Italy and we always play with passion. Only Brazil has managed to win more World Cup’s than us. I have a good feeling about this tournament.
— Italy do not have an easy group. Do you think this is a positive for Prandelli? Everyone remembers what happened in 2010 when Italy failed to get out of a relatively straightforward group as perhaps they underestimated their opponents.
— It’s a really tough group. I think that the first game will be key. If Italy manage to beat England then our confidence will grow. Next up will be Costa Rica and we could have six points after two games. The game against England will be key for Italy for the whole tournament.
— What do you have to say about Russia? How good a job has Fabio Capello done with the team?
— Capello has immense experience and he is coaching a new team. Russia are a good young side in my opinion. However, one could also point out that Russia have a good mix of youth and experience. Russia had a great qualification campaign and they have come to Brazil not just to make up the numbers. Russia have some young players on their bench and it is clear that these players need to gain some experience as of course the next World Cup is in Russia. Capello understands that these players need to get more experience playing in big tournaments and it is only through this that they will be able to progress and become even better in the future.
— One of Russia’s group opponents is Belgium, who have been receiving a lot of plaudits from around the globe.
— Yes, they are a very good side and they have a lot of great individual talents in their squad. However, the World Cup is a special tournament. You have to have experienced players in your squad. Young players find it difficult to cope with the pressure and the immense expectation.
— Who do you think will manage to qualify from Group H?
— It’s always difficult to predict, but I think Belgium and Russia have the best chances.
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