UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Italy

Population 60.6 million Area 301,338km2 Capital Rome Currency Euro Official Language Italian

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) Official Site http://www.figc.it Year of formation 1898 Euro Ranking 7 World Ranking 12 National Stadium N/A Well-known club sides Juventus, AC Milan, Inter, Napoli Leading goalscorers Luigi Riva (35), Giuseppe Meazza (33), Silvio Piola (30) Most capped players Fabio Cannavaro (136), Paolo Maldini (126), Gianluigi Buffon (112+) European Championship finals attended 1968, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Winners 1968 Playing Record in European Championship P124 W67 D39 L18 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 14/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

To say South Africa 2010 was a failure for Italy is an understatement – they came bottom of a group containing Slovakia, Paraguay and New Zealand. But Cesare Prandelli has reinstated a sense of calm authority, his enthusiastic approach prompting domestic press to dub his L’Italia del Sorriso, ‘the Italy of Smiles’. And nothing makes and Italian football fan happier than some well-organised defending.

Italy’ Catenaccio style served them well in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying, they conceded the least amount of goals in qualification, picking the ball out of their net just twice. It’s scoring that appears to be their main problem. Vincenzo Iaquinta, Fabio Quagliarella and Alberto Gilardino seem past their decisive best, leaving mercurial Antonio Cassano and the temperamental mario Balotelli as the main scoring threats.

That’s not to say they had any trouble negotiating their way through their qualifying group Italy secured safe passage with two games to go, finishing with 26 points from 10 games (a national record) and Prandelli’s outfit remain unbeaten in 10 competitive fixtures.

In 2008, Roberto Donadoni’s team went out to Spain on penalties, so the Italians, will no doubt be looking for some revenge here. But looking at the group – and despite their majestic qualifying campaign – they are by no means guaranteed a quarter-final spot.

HOW THEY GOT THERE

03/09/2010 – Group C – Estonia 1-2 Italy
07/09/2010 – Group C – Italy 5-0 Faroe Islands
08/10/2010 – Group C – Northern Ireland 0-0 Italy
12/10/2010 – Group C – Italy 3-0 Serbia (Official Forfeit)
25/03/2011 – Group C – Slovenia 0-1 Italy
03/06/2011 – Group C – Italy 3-0 Estonia
02/09/2011 – Group C – Faroe Islands 0-1 Italy
06/09/2011 – Group C – Italy 1-0 Slovenia
07/10/2011 – Group C – Serbia 1-1 Italy
11/10/2011 – Group C – Italy 3-0 Northern Ireland

HOME AND AWAY KITS

 

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP C

Sunday, 10/06 – Spain v Italy (Gdansk, 17:00)
Thursday, 14/06 – Italy v Croatia (Poznan, 17:00)
Monday, 18/06 – Italy v Republic of Ireland (Poznan, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (SSC Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain FC).

Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Federico Balzaretti (US Città di Palermo), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Christian Maggio (SSC Napoli), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino FC).

Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna FC), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus) Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (ACF Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus).

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City FC), Fabio Borini (AS Roma), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese Calcio), Sebastian Giovinco (FC Parma).

THE CAPTAIN & THE KEEPER – GIANLUIGI BUFFON

‘Gigi’ Buffon is a goalkeeper of some pedigree. he has been named Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year a record eight times. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup he conceded just two goals and kept five clean sheets, receiving the Yashin Award for his endeavours. On February 9 2011, Buffon played his first game as official captain of the national. He is still only 34 years old for a keeper.

THE DEFENSIVE ROCK – GIORGIO CHIELLINI

Along with Antonio Cassano, Giorgio Chiellini was the only ever-present during qualifying and, barring injury, will lead the most famous back line in world football in Poland/Ukraine. He is second vice-captain, behind Gianluigi Buffon, at Juventus and will assume similar responsibilities at UEFA EURO 2012 with Daniele De Rossi. In short, you won’t see any nonsense from Mr. Chiellini this summer.

STAR MAN – ANTONIO CASSANO

A capricious, unpredictable footballer, Cassano was totally overlooked during Marcello Lippi’s unsuccessful reign (a decision deemed fair enough by most), but he has been a revelation under Cesare Prandelli, top-scoring in qualifying with six goals. Quick of mind and of foot, Cassano has the ability to do the unexpected: a gift that, if used sparing and effectively, could propel this Italian side onto more trophy-lifting glory.

THE MANAGER – CESARE PRANDELLI

Marcello Lippi was a revered manager with a reputation for success, but he failed miserably in the Italian hotset second time around. Change was needed and it came in the guise of mind-mannered Cesare Prandelli. He had just taken Fiorentina to the last 16 of the Champions League, at which point they were controversially eliminated by Bayern Munich. Has introduced a much-needed sense of calm to the Italy camp, which has resulted in some more settled and pragmatic performances.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Quarter-Finals – Italy are not in an easy group but they are likely to join Spain in progressing from Group C but will probably face either France or England in the next round. Although they possess some brilliant players in their ranks, but they lack the leadership and the real world-class qualities of past teams. Both England and France should have enough quality in them to see of the Italians in the second round.

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