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Gary Younge
Australia vs Italy

A few months ago this would have been tricky. Both nations are similarly healthy and wealthy (unless you're an Aborigine, in which case you'll live as long as the average Bangladeshi). Both have immigrant-bashing tendencies, redneck premiers who encouraged them, and troops in Iraq.

But while Australia keeps going, bullish in its belligerence, Italy has made significant changes to its squad. Following the centre-left's election victory in May, all troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2007. Prodi's predecessor, Berlusconi, took the national football chant "Forza Italia" ("Go Italy") and named his rightwing party after it. Maybe now it can be returned to the terraces.

Verdict: Go Italy!

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