Preview; Italy Euro 2012

Italy
Fifa Ranking
12
Manager
Cesare Prandelli – ex solid defender for Cremonese, Atlanta and Juventus. Guided Italy through the qualifying stage undefeated.  Demands hard work from his players and has insisted on fielding young players at the same time combining with experience as he seemingly waves good bye to the old generation and brings up a new generation of Italian power. 
Captain
Gigi Buffon – Has played for the national team since 1997. A big keeper at the back, helped Juventus win the Scudetto unbeaten and is well known for his loyalty. 
Star Players
Gigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Pirlo
Fact
Italy are the most successful team behind Brazil in the World Cup having won it a four times 1934, 1938, 1982,2006 but have only won the Euro’s once which was in 1968 despite having qualified for the show piece 7 times. 
Likely Formation;
Taking a look at how the Italians have lined up under Prandelli in recent time, I would out rightly fancy a 4-3-1-2 formation.
In goal, just as in Spain would be the ever present Captain Buffon who has an able replacement in the name of Morgan De Sanctics the Napoli shotstopper. The centre of the defense for has several players who could fit; for me though, the Juventus duo of Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzaghli should start. The subs in this position could feature Ogbonna, Domenico Criscito of Zenit FC and Andrea Ranocchia who pliés his trade at Inter.  Left back position then would be Palermo’s Federico while at right back Napoli’s Maggio should start but has able replacements in the names of Abate of Milan and Cassani of Florentina. 
Just right infront of the centre backs is where we have the ‘regista’ as it’s known in Italian football. Andrea Pirlo himself flanked by Thiago Motta/De Rossi on the right and Claudio Machisio/Antonio Nocerino. Then there’s the one man who links the attack and the three men I just mentioned above. Tough to call but expect Aquilani of AC Milan or Riccardo Montolivo. 
Cassano might not get well in time for the tournament I guess, but even if so, wouldn’t be effective so much and the coach might be afraid to use him. Mario Baloteli and Giovinco for me should start then in the absence of Cassano. 
Balotelli though needs to really take care of himself and not get unnecessary bookings; this is a tournament for heaven’s sake.
Thoughts
Italians are generally defensive especially after getting a goal. The backline looks pretty solid with that Juve partnership at the back though Cassano’s absence would weigh heavily on this team. Cassano on the other hand has a poor record alongside Balotelli on discipline matters but once they reach the quarters it’s anybody’s game, Italians are good enough to cause upsets. 
I bet they would still finish at top two with Spain but should really concentrate on that opening game as they face Spain and later on face Ireland who beat them recently at a neutral venue and Croatia who have a good record against them.
Away from the pitch, Mario should light up the Tournament. It’s not always him but do you think a whole 270 minutes would pass without Mario saying/doing something? 
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DID YOU KNOW?
No Italian has ever finished as a top scorer in the Euro’s since the tournament began. Talk of defensive power.

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