Defending Champions take on Paraguay

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Gianluigi Buffon
Cape Town: Defending champions Italy will begin their title defense when they take on Paraguay in the Group F match in Cape town. Italians one of the strong favorites to lift the World Cup, along with Brazil are the only nations to have lifted the prestigious World Cup in succession.

Marcello Lippi's men will be trying to repeat the feat which was achieved decades back in the year 1934 and 1938.

They have star players like Gianluigi Buffon who is considered the best in the business for his goalkeeping abilities. His spectacular reflexes to keep out a Zinedine Zidane header in extra time during the 2006 Final illustrated just why he has an undisputed claim on the gloves. He will be a man to watch out for.

And ofcourse Italy have their evergreen captain Fabio Cannavaro. The Fifa 2006 player of the year will be a lot of experience will make it tough for the Paraguans.

Meanwhile Andrea Pirlo will be missing the opener because of calf injury and the coach Lippi has announced that he is happy to wait for him until he is fully fit according to fifa.com reports.

Lippi last night put his side through their paces in an 11-a-side practice match featuring what seems likely to be his starting XI. That team did not feature veteran midfielder Gennaro Gattuso or Udinese forward Antonio Di Natale, far and away the best goalscorer in Serie A last season with 29 goals.

Instead, Alberto Gilardino lined up as the central striker with Simone Pepe to his right and the sluggish Vincenzo Iaquinta out of position on the left. Daniele De Rossi teamed up with Claudio Marchisio in midfield with Riccardo Montolivo in the playmaking role.

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Paraguay on the other hand will be hoping to dissapoint the defending champions. Having just put together their best ever qualification campaign, they would be keeping high ambitions ahead of its clash against Italy.

Roque Santa Cruz will be the man to watch out for the Los GuaranÍes after having an excellent form in the EPL with his club Manchester City.

Infact he rated the current squad to be compact. complete and best squad ever to participate in the World Cup. But they have some injury problems as Oscar

Cardozo's has ankle problems. Cardozo who plays for Benefica has been missing the training session. And both Cruz and Cardozo are key for Paraguays chances.

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