Bangalore: Former Italian defender Marco Materazzi, who was head-butted by French soccer legend Zinedin Zidane in the controversial 2006 World Cup final, today said Germany are the strongest contender for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to be played in Brazil.
"Brazil, Germany and Spain are strong contenders for the World Cup. However, I see Germany very well (placed) because it is a team that is being built for many years. The head coach (Joachim Loew) has also been associated with the team for last six years," he told reporters here after watching a Bangalore District Football Association Super Division match between MEG and ADE at the Football Stadium.
Materazzi, who hung up his boots in 2010, said it is not easy to win the World Cup for Italy but with four crowns behind them, the Azzuries cannot be taken lightly.
"It is not easy. First game will be pretty hard against England, but we are Italians, and in the past we have won four World Cups, so we need to go and try achieve the best," he said.
Defender Materazzi hoped that Italy could break the tradition of winning a World Cup hosted by a South American country.
"Traditionally, playing in South America, no European teams won. So, hopefully we can break this tradition this year and could win," he said.
Asked what makes Italy perform well in the World Cup in spite of being dogged by controversies like match-fixing back home, Materazzi said, "If there is passion, corruption and all these problems don`t influence the performance of the players because they have something inside them to push for achieving the dream."
Despite money crunch football faces in India, Materazzi said, "We see India as the sleeping giant of world football. We are aware that football is becoming more and more important. We are here because we have a very strong grassroots programme."