Euro 2012: Scandal might help Italy again

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VietnamNet English - 32 month(s) ago 4 readings

With days away from the Euro 2012 opener, a police raid on Italy's pre-tournament training camp cast shadow on the team's fate.

With days away from the Euro 2012 opener, a police raid on Italy's pre-tournament training camp cast shadow on the team's fate.
Well-known defender Domenico Criscito was handed a search warrant as part of an investigation into the latest match-fixing scandal to engulf Italian football. Criscito was then confirmed out of the Italian 23-man squad for the Euro 2012.


So far, the scandal touched 22 clubs, 52 players and 33 matches.

However, it doesn't mean that Italy doom to collapse in the upcoming Euro 2012. On the contrary, Italy had been crowned twice in the World Cup (1980, 2006) in the same situation.

It would be fair to say that the jury is still out on the Italian side which will take part in the European Championships this June.

The side coached by Cesare Prandelli had few problems qualifying for the finals, producing a series of displays which were solid rather than inspiring in a group where Estonia (who were then comfortably beaten by the Republic of Ireland) finished in second place.

Prandelli's side based its campaign on a rock solid defense, conceding a miserly 2 goals in 10 matches, although one of those, at home to Serbia, was abandoned after less than 10 minutes due to riots by visiting fans.

Prandelli won the European Cup and three Serie A titles as a player with Juventus, but has not won a major title as a coach, although he did see both Verona and Venezia to promotion to the Italian top flight, before a solid spell with Parma and five seasons with Fiorentina.

He moved to the national side following Italy's disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign, where they finished last in a group which contained Paraguay and New Zealand, saying his brief was to "work, work and work, and I seriously believe in rebuilding."

True to his work Prandelli has devoted time to developing a side that mixes youth with experience and which looks highly motivated to put the World Cup failure to bed.

The coach may have worked on renewing his squad, but one man is still unquestioned in the Italian side: goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The 33-year-old has drawn level with Italian legend Dino Zoff on 112 appearances for his country and will travel to the European Championships after lifting the Serie A title with Juventus in a season in which he conceded just 16 goals in 35 appearances.

Buffon looks to be back to his best and he will be a formidable last line of defense for Italy.

Meanwhile the Italians will depend on Andrea Pirlo to pull the strings in midfield. The 32-year-old is now one of the veterans in Prandelli's increasingly young looking side, but he played in all but one of the qualifying matches and his presence on the pitch continues to give imagination to an Italian midfield, which can look slightly pedestrian and lacking ideas without him.

Buffon wasn't the only man responsible for Italy keeping the goal count down to just two goals in qualifying, Prandelli can count on some fearsome central defenders, including Juventus trio of Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci.

While Chiellini, who may miss the opening game of the Euro's with injury, is a typical hard-man Italian stopper, Barzagli was a European Under-21 Champion in 2004 and Bonucci is a stylish defender with exceptional distribution skills.

Meanwhile full back Christian Maggio is able to push forward with great effect. Maggio especially used to playing a wing-back role with his club Napoli.

The main problem for Italy come June does look as if it is going to be a lack of goals: Antonio Cassano was top scorer for Italy in qualifying, netting six of his side's 20 goals, but his recent heart problem means that he will not play this summer, for obvious health issues.

That and the knee injury suffered by Villarreal's Giuseppi Rossi leaves Italy looking short of resources up front and means a lot of responsibility for Manchester City's talented, but volatile Mario Balotelli.

Balotelli was left out of his side's recent friendly defeat to the United States because of his discipline problems in England and Balotelli' s end to the season, which saw him miss several games through suspension will have done little to ease Prandelli's mind.

However, there is no doubt that if he is capable of harnessing his temperament, Balotelli is the man who could win the tournament for Italy. Big, strong, fast, powerful in the air, he is a complete striker.

The question is whether he will be able to go through a major tournament without picking up a suspension that could prove fatal to his country's ambitions.

Maybe the calendar is in Italy's favor, they kick off their campaign against Spain that has struggled to hit top gear early in major tournaments, before then playing a talented Croatian team, which opens its campaign against the Republic of Ireland.

Prandelli will perhaps hope that by the time his side plays Ireland in the closing group game, the Irish are already thinking about packing their bags and will prove easy prey. What he won't want is for Italy to face a Ireland side with something other than pride at stake, should that be the case, lack of goals could cost Italy dear.

Following is Italy's 23-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain)
Defenders: Ignazio Abate (AC Milan), Federico Balzaretti (Palermo), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Christian Maggio (Napoli), Angelo Ogbonna (Torino)

Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma), Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna), Emanuele Giaccherini (Juventus), Claudio Marchisio (Juventus), Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina), Thiago Motta (Paris St Germain), Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

Forwards: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City), Fabio Borini (AS Roma), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma).

VietNamNet/Xinhuanet

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