Italy bid to live up to tag of favourites

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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It's been 20 years since that magnificent night in Madrid when Dino Zoff became the oldest player to lift the World Cup for Italy for a record third time. The closest Italy have come anywhere close to achieving that feat was in USA, 1994 when they lost on penalties in the final to Brazil. Italy had a pretty easy qualifying round as they topped their group without losing a single match. Italy's hopes at this World Cup will squarely rest on the shoulders of play maker Francesco Totti. The AS Roma star will have to be at his creative best if Italy live up to the tag of pre-tournament favourites. Italy's goal scoring duties will clearly be on the shoulders of Inter Milan's Christian Vieri. Injury may have kept him out of much of last season but when he is on song there is no one better than him in the six-yard box. Italy has qualified for 15 out of 17 finals. It has played 66 matches, winning 38, drawing 16 and losing 12. It was champion in 1934, 1938 and 1982, and runners-up in 1970 and 1994. Totti and his team's favourite tag is to a large extent also on the fact that they are in a easy group with Ecuador, Croatia and Mexico.