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Italian Underdogs

Euro 2012 has well and truly kicked off so there’s no better time to look at the favourites and my choice of the underdogs, well there probably is a better time before all the teams have a played a game but I missed that chance.

Six years ago while preparing for the 2006 World Cup in Germany there was a match fixing scandal unearthed in Italy that saw Juventus stripped of their Serie A title and punishments handed out to all of the teams involved. Six years on and there is another investigation in to match fixing in the Italian league, looks like a good omen for Italy this summer.

Italy qualified unbeaten for this summer’s tournament and only dropped two points in 10 games, an even more impressive stat however is their typically Italian defensive record of only conceding 2 goals throughout the whole campaign.

Cesare Prandelli’s formidable defensive line failed to show up for the Euro 2012 warm up game against Russia in which they conceded 3 goals and failed to score. The Azzurri may not be in great form going in to the tournament but their first group game against Spain, a 1-1 draw, had several bright spots to look forward to later in the tournament and means the hardest game of the group has gone.

All the focus in Group C is on holders Spain meaning Italy may well be able to slip under the radar with low key performances before turning on the style later in the tournament. International experience is the key and the Italians have an abundance, Buffon 113 caps, De Rossi 71 caps and Pirlo 82 caps all know what international tournaments involve.

Alongside the experience of the old heads is one of the most exciting but temperamental players in the world, Mario Balotelli. The Manchester City forward only has 7 caps but played a big part in his club’s title victory, vital experience at just 21 years old. If Balotelli can provide the goals and the defence continues to keep tight Italy may just be one of the sides to challenge the likes of Spain, Germany and Holland.

Sam Jewell

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