Euro 2016 team-by-team guide: Everything you need to know about Italy
Kevin Palmer gives us the lowdown on the Italy.
Group E fixtures
- June 13th: Belgium in Lyon
- June 17th: Sweden in Toulouse
- June 22nd: Republic of Ireland in Lille
COACH: Antonio Conte
Having already confirmed that he will leave his job with Italy to take over at Chelsea next summer, Conte will be desperate to go out on a high.
A World Cup and European Championships runner-up in his playing career with the Italian national team, this former Juventus coach is a serious, unflappable and passionate student of the game. He expects his players to take their job as seriously as he does his own.
STAR MAN: Marco Verratti (Paris Saint-Germain)
Plugging the creativity void in the Azzurri midfield left by Andrea Piro following his retirement was never going to be an easy task, with Italy boss Conte opting for this PSG star to take the central role.
Previously with Pescara in Italy, he made the move to the French capital in 2012 and has been a key man in their rise to become the dominant force in Ligue 1. Is he good enough to dominate at a major international tournament? We are about to find out.
LOOK OUT FOR: Graziano Pelle (Southampton)
Not always a first pick for Southampton this season, there is a theory that the south coast club will look to sell this powerhouse forward this summer and there should be no shortage of takers, even if he is closing in on his 31st birthday.
Pelle has been a consistent performer for Italy since Conte picked him out to be a central cog in his team, with his three goals in Euro 2016 qualifying a useful addition to an Azzurri side that lacks world class finishing power. This late bloomer will give his all to their cause in France.
VERDICT: Italy’s name may be more fearsome than their team right now and that has to give the Republic of Ireland all their Euro 2016 rivals some hope.
Their evergreen defensive line-up backed up by the Juventus quartet of keeper Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci should keep things tight at the back, but there are doubts about their attacking flair and, in particular, Pelle’s ability to test Europe’s best defences.