Many pundits don’t fancy Italy’s chances of winning Euro 2016, but a quick look at the names in their squad show that underestimating them would be unwise.
In this profile, we assess Italy’s chances of lifting this trophy for the second time.
Route to Euro 2016
Italy came top of Group H, four points above runners-up Croatia. The Azzurri won seven and drew three of their qualifiers.
Despite this, they were sluggish and overly cautious at times, particularly in their 1-0 win over Malta and their 2-1 defeat of Azerbaijan.
It has been a period of bedding-in for younger members of the squad, but results have still been a cause for concern among some fans.
Italy won their first – and as yet – only European Championship in 1968 when, as hosts, they beat Yugoslavia to claim the trophy.
They have also been runners-up twice since then. The first of these in 2000 saw them beat hosts Holland in the semi-final, where they faced world champions, France.
Despite being a goal up until the 93rd minute, France’s Sylvain Wiltord equalised and David Trezeguet bagged the golden goal winner in extra-time.
In 2012, Italy knocked out England in the quarter-final and upset Germany in the semis, courtesy of a brace from Mario Balotelli.
Despite a great run to the final, a tired Italy were thrashed 4-0 by the reigning European and world champions, Spain.
Antonio Conte became head coach of Italy in 2014, after leading Juventus to three straight Serie A titles.
Conte signed a two-year contract, and began experimenting with a 4-2-4 formation, before reverting to the 3-5-2 that had served him so well at Juventus. He led Italy to Euro 2016 without a single loss. Despite this, Conte remains at the centre of some controversy.
His rigorous training methods have seen players incurring injury when away on international duty, including none other than Claudio Marchisio, a mainstay in the Italian team.
The Italian FA continues to rebuff his requests for more time with his squad. This has led some to predict that he will not be renewing his contract after the Euros.
Most important player
With Andrea Pirlo moving to the MLS, the 36-year-old may not be picked for the Euros this summer. In his absence, this would leave captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi “Gigi” Buffon as Italy’s most valuable player.
At 38, Buffon’s quality and influence in the Italy national team remains. He says he plans to emulate Dino Zoff by playing in a World Cup at 40. As long as he stays fit, this looks like a distinct possibility.
21-year-old Domenico Berardi is remembered by AC Milan as the wiry kid who scored four goals against them at the age of 19.
Since promotion to Serie A in 2014, he has hit the back of the net 33 times for Sassuolo. Berardi naturally plays on the right, but likes to cut into a more central position when on the ball.
He has yet to make an appearance for the senior Italian side after picking up an injury following a call-up in October 2015.
When Berardi is fit, Conte will be able to put the quick, strong forward to good use in a 4-3-3 formation. Berardi is almost certainly a star of the future.