v Czech Republic - 22 June, 1500 BST, Hamburg
How did they get to Germany: Solid rather than spectacular. They topped their group by five points but had some nervous moments along the way, including an early loss to Slovenia and some unconvincing displays in a relatively weak group.
Qualifying star: Luca Toni got better and better, his goals proved crucial and he has been rewarded with the number nine shirt in Germany.
Manager: Former Juventus coach Marcello Lippi took over after Giovanni Trapattoni's contract was not renewed following an early exit from Euro 2004. Will be looking to add a World Cup to his impressive CV that already boasts five Serie A titles and a Champions League trophy with Juve.
Captain: The 32-year-old Juventus defender Fabio Cannavaro will be playing in his third finals. He missed their embarrassing defeat to South Korea in 2002 due to suspension.
World Cup pedigree: The Azzurri are one of the sides who go into each tournament as a candidate to win. Have made the finals 15 times and won the World Cup three times (1934, 1938 and 1982).
World Cup high: In 1982 they overcame a poor start to shock a great Brazilian side 3-2 in one of the classic games in finals history. They went on to beat Germany in the final.
World Cup low: It will be a long time before their second-round loss to South Korea will be forgotten.
World Cup legend: Paolo Rossi. Italy may have had better players but nobody has had such an impact on a World Cup as Rossi in 1982. He scored a hat-trick to down Brazil, both of their semi-final goals against Poland and another in the final.
Present star man: There is no shortage of big names, but even the mercurial and, to the relief of the country, fit again Francesco Totti will have to play second fiddle to Toni if the Fiorentina front man continues banging in the goals.
Strengths: As ever the defence is watertight, while probably only Brazil can match their strength in depth in attack.
Weaknesses: With so many options the biggest problem for Lippi will be finding the right combination up front and keeping everyone happy - in particular the established names.
Did you know? At the World Cup finals in Italy in 1990 the average goals per game was the lowest in the history of the tournament (a measly 2.21).
World ranking: 13
Local view: "Italy has got all the right ingredients to be contenders for the World Cup. They have a wealth of strikers as well as their traditional good defence. If anything they probably have too many players." Giancarlo Galavotti, Gazzetta dello Sport.
Our verdict: After two disappointing tournaments Italy will be determined to make their mark in Germany. If they gel they are capable of going all the way.
Ranking and odds correct at 22 May. Odds supplied by William Hill.