Next month sees the European Championships take place from Poland and Ukraine. With many sides now naming their squads for the competition, who can go all the way?
Italy are a side that could do it on their day. They won the World Cup back in 2006 when not many people had expected much of them and they seem to relish being the underdogs and do not cope with the favourites tag very well.
Highlighting this, Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup were tournaments to forget for the Italians.
The Italian way of playing can sometimes not be exciting to watch, although can be affective and suited perfectly to tournament football, and there is now a new breed of football being introduced.
Claudio Prandelli will rely on his side being solid at the back and winning matches by the odd goal. That said, under Prandelli they have looked to be more attacking, as they adopt a more possession game and attacking style.
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They conceded just two goals during qualifying and remained unbeaten so are in good shape going into the tournament. Much of this is due to the dominance of Giorgio Chiellini at the centre of defence. The Juventus man has had an outstanding season, leading his club to the Scudetto and conceding only twenty goals.
If Italy are to go all the way, Mario Balotelli may have to produce a few world class performances. There is no doubting the Manchester City’s strikers quality, however his temperament and attitude comes under a lot of scrutiny.
Balotelli played just 19 minutes in Italy’s qualifying campaign, but the injury to Giuseppe Rossi may see him heavily involved in the tournament.
The 21-year-old could epitomize the chances of Italy at these championships. They could be the surprise package and successful, though there is always the chance of everything going horribly wrong. Prandelli may also be looking to blood Siena’s Mattia Destro and Roma’s Fabio Borini, who have both impressed this season, and find themselves leading the Italian line in attack.
There is no doubt that Italy are giants in terms of world football and are always a side to be feared, although gone are the days of their domination on the international stage.
They will be looking to restore some pride into Italian football and lift the trophy this summer. Much of the attention has been on Antonio Cassano, who has flourished for AC Milan this term after returning from a mini stroke, and his vigour and enthusiasm is one element Prandelli hopes rubs off on the rest of the squad.
With regards to this, Prandelli’s men can really show themselves as potential winners of the competition with a win over world champions Spain in their first match.
That would really set tongues wagging, and Del Bosque could really be in for a surprise.