Author: Graham Tower
Published: 11:55 31/05/2014
Gianluigi Buffon believes Italy are the best team in Group D and will go further in the World Cup than England and Uruguay.
The 36-year-old World Cup veteran is Italy captain and while accepting the Azzurri are not among the favourites to lift the trophy in Brazil, the Juventus keeper is backing Italy to reach the quarter finals at least.
Italy won the World Cup for the fourth time in 2006 and while they are the second most successful nation in the history of the competition (behind five-time World Cup winners, Brazil), bookmakers rate the Italians a 25/1 chance in South America.
Buffon accepts there are other teams ahead of Italy at the moment and speaking to Sky Sports, said: "The favourites are Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina. We are slightly further back."
“(If we play) from the quarter-finals onwards, we could say it has been a good World Cup and a positive tournament. But naturally, you are never fully satisfied. I don't feel as if I can say today with certainty that we can reach the final.”
BetVictor go 3/1 Italy to be eliminated at the Quarter Final stage and 9/1 to be knocked out in the semis while Ladbrokes has opened a ‘Minimum Progress’ market and bet 23/20 Italy will reach the Quarter Finals at least.
The Azzuri failed to progress from the group stage at World Cup 2010 in South Africa but Buffon believes Italy have emerged from a spell of under achievement.
"I think that our national team has become one that is reliable and that manages to win the matches it should win.
“Sometimes we manage to cause surprises in the games in which we don't start as favourites, giving the opposition some headaches. I'm thinking about Spain, with whom we have drawn twice recently and Brazil, against whom we lost but played a great match."
Italy kick off their World Cup campaign against England in Manaus on June 14.