Euro 2016 Group E Preview: Italy

Antonio Conte will be looking to guide Italy to a first European Championship in 48 years but can Italy reach a second straight European final or will Italy bow out to an early exit?

Italy only Euopean Championship win came in 1968 image: espnfc.com

Italy’s only European Championship win came in 1968
image: espnfc.com

History

This is Italy’s ninth European Championship.

They have only won the tournament once back on home soil in 1968. They were runners-up in 2000 and 2012 and reached the semi-finals in 1980. They have failed to make it past the group stages on two occasions in 1996 and 2004.

Key Player

Giorgio Chiellini has over 80 caps for Italy image: tsn.ca

Giorgio Chiellini has over 80 caps for Italy
image: tsn.ca

Italy’s success is usually driven by a strong and organised defence and that will be the key again at Euro 2016 with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini aiming to shut down any threat against his side.

The 31-year-old is no stranger to a major tournament. He is a great leader at the back for Italy and he has shown it too with Juventus with over 300 appearances and five back-to-back Serie A titles for the Turin side.

He is a physical, hard-tackling centre-back but also offers great aerial prowess and strength at set pieces. He is one of the best defenders in Europe and will need to be on his A-game in France to help Italy to get as far as possible.

One to Watch 

One man hoping to make a name for himself in France is Fiorentina winger Federico Bernardeschi, as he hopes to show just why he is being touted as one of Italy’s brightest young talents.

Federico Bernardeschi made over 40 appearances for Fiorentina last season image: rte.ie

Federico Bernardeschi made over 40 appearances for Fiorentina last season
image: rte.ie

The 22-year-old has been a break out star at Fiorentina this season with his versatility to play on either flank and can be very effective cutting in from the right before unleashing with his stronger left foot. He can even play in the number ten position and this could be his role in Conte’s side.

He’s quick, strong and has a fantastic work rate, even pegging back to help out his teammates in defence. He has cited Italy’s legend Francesco Totti as his role model and if proves to be a good as him, Italy have a star for years to come.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (PSG)

Defenders: Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Man United), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)

Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Tiago Motta (PSG), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Federico Bernadeschi (Fiorentina), Stephan El Shaarwy (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna)

Forwards: Simone Zaza (Juventus), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Eder (Inter Milan), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli).

Italy were beaten finalists in Euro 2012 with a heavy 4-0 loss to Spain image: halftimeng.com

Italy were beaten finalists in Euro 2012 with a heavy 4-0 loss to Spain
image: halftimeng.com

Prediction: Group Stages

Italy enjoyed a great Euro 2016 campaign but did suffer a heavy defeat to Spain the final. A lot has changed in the Italy side since then and they are no longer the force they used to be. Italy could be in for a shock at Euro 2016.

They are missing two massive players in midfield with PSG’s Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio of Juventus both out injured, while 37-year-old Andrea Pirlo did not make the final squad. They still have some decent players but they nowhere near a winning squad.

Italy have a strong organised defence but they really lack quality in attack as Antonio Conte’s men face a very tough group. There are certain to be a few surprises in France and I think Italy failing to reach the last 16 will be one of them.

Italy’s Fixtures

13 Jun v Belgium (2000)

17 Jun v Sweden (1400)

22 Jun v Ireland (2000)

Leave a comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s