Italy, the Euro 2012 losing finalists, were unbeaten in the qualifiers this time, thanks to a strong defence and a brilliant goalkeeper in Gianluigi Buffon.
However, injuries have disrupted Antonio Conte's midfield plans with Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio ruled out after injuries requiring surgery. The manager is sure to turn to Paris St Germain's Thiago Motta to fill the breach.
Italy can field an impressive all-Juventus defence with Buffon, protected by Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and 2006 World Cup veteran Andrea Barzagli.
Up front, they have the talented little winger Lorenzo Insigne and the striker Stephan El Shaarawy - who was on loan at AS Roma from AC Milan - for flair and goals.
Fifa ranking: 12
Manager: Antonio Conte
Squad - Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon, Salvatore Sirigu, Federico Marchetti. Defenders: Matteo Darmian, Mattia de Sciglio, Angelo Ogbonna, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci. Midfielders: Thiago Motta, Marco Parolo, Daniele de Rossi, Stefano Sturaro, Emanuele Giaccherini, Federico Bernardeschi, Alessandro Florenzi. Forwards: Antonio Candreva, Stephan El Shaarawy, Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Simone Zaza, Eder, Graziano Pelle.
Key player: Gianluigi Buffon. Italy's most capped player with 157 appearances, he set a Serie A record in March of 974 minutes without conceding. The captain is a remarkable shot stopper, commanding in the air, a fine reader of attacks and organiser of the defence and a respected voice in the changing room.