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The Chelsea defender believes that with Andrea Pirlo, Antonio Candreva and Mario Balotelli within their ranks, the Azzurri have to be considered genuine title contenders

David Luiz believes that Italy are among the favourites to win the next summer's World Cup in his native Brazil.

The Azzurri came through their Uefa qualification group unbeaten and the Chelsea defender believes Cesare Prandelli has a squad capable of equalling the Selecao's record of five tournament triumphs.

“He has a fantastic team, which plays good football,” Luiz told the Corriere dello Sport. “They have the right mind-set to tackle the big tournaments because they can count on players who know and live with the pressures that come with remarkable technique. When you play Italy, you are never the favourites.

“Italy do not have four stars on his chest by chance. Lifting the World Cup four times must be respected. They are going to be a great opponent.”

Luiz, who has represented his country 33 times, therefore believes that Brazil-Italy would make for a fine final, though he admits that there is no guarantee that the Selecao would get the better of the Azzurri, as they did in the 1994 tournament decider in the United States.

“A Brazil-Italy final? Why not? Just as long as it finishes as it did in 1994! Seriously, Italy can get to the final, maybe even win the final."

Luiz also identified playmaker Andrea Pirlo, midfielder Antonio Candreva and striker Mario Balotelli as Italy’s main threats.

"Pirlo is an artist with his feet and Candreva impressed me so much at the Confederations Cup," the centre-half revealed. "I did not know him that well, but he has shown he has great quality.

“And Balotelli, he is a special guy with a great talent. With the ball at his feet can do anything because he is very strong both technically and physically.

"He can make the difference. I learned that on those occasions when I played against Italy or Manchester City.”

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