Euro 2012 Preview: Italy

Euro 2012 Preview: Italy
COACH
BEST SHOWING
QUALIFICATION
CURRENT WORLD RANKING
HIGHEST WORLD RANKING
LOWEST WORLD RANKING
TOURNAMENT ODDS
Cesare Prandelli
Winners 1968
Group C Winners
12
1 (several times)
16 (Oct 2010)
16/1 (skybet)


FIXTURES
June 10th – Spain (1700 BST, Gdansk, ITV)
June 14th – Croatia (1700 BST, Poznan, BBC)
June 18th – Republic of Ireland (1945 BST, Poznan, BBC)


Another matchfixing scandal has rocked Italian football in the lead up to Euro 2012, Domenico Criscito has made the headlines in recent days for his alleged involvement.Of course you can point to 2006 as another time Italian football was in turmoil and the national side under Marcello Lippi came through to win the World Cup. Lippi’s failure to steer the Azzurri past the group stages in South Africa in 2010 led to his departure and Prandelli coming in.

Qualifying was relatively routine barring the ugly scenes in Genoa against Serbia which saw the Italians awarded the win and they proved hard to score against conceding only twice.Prandelli has been more open to youth than his predecessor with Mario Balotelli becoming a regular under him. He won’t put up with any nonsense from the volatile Manchester City striker dropping him and Daniele De Rossi for their indiscipline at one point although both are in the squad.

Antonio Cassano – a perpetual bystander under Lippi has also come back into the fold under Prandelli and has made the squad returning to fitness after minor heart surgery, Giuseppe Rossi however misses out.

Prandelli should adopt a 4-4-2 with the midfield playing in a diamond.


The ageless Gianluigi Buffon continues in goal and Criscito’s enforced absence may see Federico Balzaretti deputise at left-back with he and Christian Maggio crucial to Italy’s attacking play with the width they provide.

A rejuvenated Andrea Pirlo will play the holding role with Daniele De Rossi and Claudio Marchisio in front of him.

If Cassano is deemed fit to start games, he and Balotelli should play up front although Antonio Di Natale is a fine alternative if needed and Roma’s Fabio Borini is an exciting prospect.


ONE TO WATCH – ANDREA PIRLO
A move to Juventus has revitalised Pirlo’s career after it had stalled at AC Milan.One of the few survivors of the 2006 triumph, Pirlo is one of the midfielders that can do it all with his long range passing and creativity his best attributes.

His ability to pull the strings in the talented Italian midfield could prove the difference between success and failure for Prandelli’s men
.


HERE COMES D-JUDGE

Times have changed for the Azzurri and Lippi’s stubborn approach is long gone.

Prandelli has been a breath of fresh air and is fairly well liked in Italy. He’s not afraid to drop indisciplined players but has shown he can keep the notoriously temperamental Cassano and Balotelli in check.

Since 2006 Italy’s reputation as a footballing superpower has taken a battering with poor shows in 2008 and 2010.

The concern I have is that if Cassano isn’t fully fit is do Balotelli and the others have what it takes to score goals with the Italians having lacked a quality goalscorer since Filippo Inzaghi.

VERDICT
This is a tougher group than it appears but I think Italy are dark horses in this tournament. I don’t think they’ll win it all but I do think they can reach the last four.

Danny (D-Good)
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: admin@owlsalive.com
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83


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