Gianluigi Buffon considers Italy as a reliable team who know their limitations and should at least reach the World Cup quarter-finals, the stalwart goalkeeper said on Wednesday.
Buffon listed Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany as favourites to win the tournament in Brazil, with Italy, who face Ireland in Craven Cottage on Saturday at 7.45pm, among the dark horses who are a rung below.
"If we get to the quarter-finals or further, it will have been a positive World Cup," the 36-year-old told reporters.
"We have a mature team which knows its own limitation and, because of this, we are a dependable side who win the matches we are expected to win.
"Sometimes we manage to cause surprises in the games in which we don't start as favourites, giving the opposition some headaches," added Buffon.
Buffon, a World Cup winner in 2006, will be taking part in his fifth successive World Cup although he did not play in 1998, when he was an unused squad member.
"The fifth World Cup is a good achievement but it is not enough for me. We are working to try and cause a surprise," he said.
"We have to recognise the worth of opponents and when you talk about Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany, we are half a step or a whole step below them.
"Among the outsiders, we have Italy, France, Netherlands and Belgium."
Four-times world champions Italy face Costa Rica, Uruguay and England in Group D.