|Euro 2012 soccer preview for Italian team||| Print ||
|Written by Larry Aiello|
|Sunday, 03 June 2012 15:45|
With the Euro Cup starting this week, there is a lot of excitement in Italy as they get ready to hopefully avenge their disappointing showing in the last World Cup.
It won't be easy, as the Italian squad so far has not looked good in the last few matches leading up to the tournament. And now there is a match-fixing scandal that has resulted in a popular player (defender) Domenico Criscito being left off the roster for the Euro Cup.
Another problem is that their top scorer in the qualifying stages, Antonio Cassano, has had recent heart issues, and will not probably play this summer. So once again, the problem for Italy will be scoring goals. Which makes their style of play quite boring, but they are usually effective in moving on to the later rounds of all the tournaments they play. They never are the sexy pick, because their style of play focuses on a strong defense. We all know the saying, defense wins championships, and that is true in most sports.
The X-factor for Italy in the EuroCup
The X-factor in this tournament for the Italian team could be Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), he is a strong, powerful and fast forward that could wreak havoc with other defenses. Coach Cesare Prandelli will have to babysit this star, because he is known for losing his temper. If he picks up a red-card, that could doom the chances for Italy.
Some of the postives about this squad of course, is goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, a true leader of the team, with a World Cup Trophy to show for it as well.
The defense should be solid with the Juventus squad trio - Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Andrea Pirlo is also still a capable midfielder and should be a strong presence in the midfield.
Italy will get a test with Spain in the opening match
It won't be easy to start with, as they have to face the defending champion Spanish team, which is the favorite to win the whole tournament. The Italians won in a qualifying game last year --- that was last year. I believe the Italians have the confidence to play with anybody, but they typically start off slow in these tournaments, so that won't be a luxury this time. I think this game is hugely important from a psychological standpoint. The Italian team needs to get a win or a tie against the defending champs to have any chance down the road of advancing.
Italy versus Croatia
The second match will be an interesting one, as Croatia is a very talented team. They could easily advance out of the group. In the last 5 games against this team, Italy has no wins, 2 draws and 3 losses.
Italy versus Ireland
This is a great rivalry game, having grown up in the northeast US, there are a lot of Italian-Irish marriages, so this is almost like a civil war rivalry, just because of the ethnic rivalries that take place as you are growing up. This is the game where you say, please let's lose to anybody else BUT THEM! Coach Prandelli hopes that the Irish team will have nothing to play for when the Italians get here, because it may come down to this game for the Italians to earn a point for them to advance.
This should be a very interesting Euro Soccer Championship. There are a lot of story lines, and of course the game is filled with passion and excitement as these teams compete for nationalistic pride. I think after the World Cup Victory in 2006, the Italians went on a cannoli circuit, which explains their first-round disappointment in the previous World Cup. We'll see if they are still on the cannoli circuit or if they can come together as a group and pull off a shocker and win this tournament. The odds right now are at 15-1.
Official 23 man roster for Italy's EuroCup (2012) team
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli) and Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint-Germain).
Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli) and Angelo Ogbonna (Torino).
Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina/AC Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint-Germain), Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan) and Andrea Pirlo (Juventus).
Attackers: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Fabio Borini (Roma), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) and Sebastian Giovinco (Parma).
Too many cannolis? - Is there such a thing? :-)
If the Italians continued to have too much cannoli eating and wine drinking after their 2006 World Cup Victory, it will be another disappointing and early exit in the upcoming Euros.
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