An In-Depth Look At Italy Ahead of EURO 2016

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Crtedit: FIGC

By Piero Fiorino and Richard Bowman

 Italy has been one of the truly great soccer(or football) nations, however, they’ve hit a rough stretch since winning the World Cup in 2006. Since then Italy has had mixed results, the one really good result came in 2012 when they made the finals of the EURO, despite getting thrashed by Spain. Italy has lacked direction at the top and their international team has suffered from it. Talent isn’t necessarily the problem for Italy like a lot of people think, they’ve got plenty of talented players at all ages. Antonio Conte made some very questionable calls when it came to Italy’s EURO squad and one has to wonder what motives he had for some of these decisions. One things for sure, this EURO will either be really bad or really good for Italy.

Italy’s EURO 2016 Squad: 

Manager: Antonio Conte

#

Player

Position

Age

Caps

Club

1

Gianluigi Buffon(c)

GK

38

157

Juventus

12

Salvatore Sirigu

GK

29

15

Paris Saint-Germain

13

Federico Marchetti

GK

33

11

Lazio

2

Mattia De Sciglio

DF

23

22

A.C. Milan

3

Giorgio Chiellini

DF

31

83

Juventus

4

Matteo Darmian

DF

26

22

Manchester United

5

Angelo Ogbonna

DF

28

10

West Ham United

15

Andrea Barzagli

DF

35

55

Juventus

19

Leonardo Bonucci

DF

29

56

Juventus

6

Antonio Candreva

MF

29

37

Lazio

8

Alessandro Florenzi

MF

25

16

Roma

10

Thiago Motta

MF

33

25

Paris Saint-Germain

14

Stefano Sturaro

MF

23

0

Juventus

16

Daniele De Rossi

MF

32

102

Roma

18

Marco Parolo

MF

31

19

Lazio

21

Federico Bernardeschi

MF

22

3

Fiorentina

22

Stephan El Shaarawy

MF

23

18

Roma

23

Emanuele Giaccherini

MF

31

24

Bologna

7

Simone Zaza

FW

24

10

Juventus

9

Graziano Pelle

FW

30

12

Southampton

11

Ciro Immobile

FW

26

12

Torino

17

Eder

FW

29

10

Inter Milan

20

Lorenzo Insigne

FW

25

9

Napoli

Analysis of the squad 

Piero Fiorino: This year the Azzurri squad is, very simply, not as strong as it has been in past years. Antonio Conte, Italy’s manager, is sometimes not always in his right mind when choosing players for national play. Conte left out players such as Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo, and Sebastian Giovinco and substituted them for players like Thiago Motta and Eder. Italy’s strongest point of their team is defense, though, so calling up star defenders such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci were great moves. This year’s squad can most definitely make a deep run, but some of the choices made by Conte may hurt Italy during this year’s Euros.

Richard Bowman: Antonio Conte is a very good manager, however, his emotions can get the best of him at times. Conte has made some very questionable decisions when it comes to the Azzurri squad. It’s not clear if some of these decisions were entirely based on him being too emotional, but it does seem like it. I know injuries haven’t been too kind for Italy, but how did Domenico Berardi not make the squad? He would have been the perfect #10 for Italy, the 21-year-old is an offensively gifted forward that can thrive in many different attacking positions. Berardi is also known for his competitiveness even though it has gotten him into trouble at times on the pitch. Conte not including him in the squad could very well come back and haunt Italy at the Euros.


Match 1: Belgium vs Italy

Piero Fiorino: Italy needs to come out swinging, or in this case kicking, if they want to pull the upset over Belgium. Although Italy has had their issues with their attack, I believe if they put enough shots on goal and Chiellini holds the defense up, Italy can walk away with the win.

Man of the Match(Italy): Giorgio Chiellini

Score Prediction: 1-0 Italy

Richard Bowman: It wouldn’t surprise me if Italy got the upset here but it also wouldn’t surprise me if they just did not play well at all. Italy is typically at their best when they’re overlooked, however, I think Belgium will be too much and Italy is known for sleep walking through the group stage. Look for Buffon to make the final score look somewhat respectable for Italy.

Man of the Match(Italy): Gianluigi Buffon

Score Prediction: 1-0 Belgium


Match 2: Italy vs Sweden

Piero Fiorino: Sweden will be a tough one for Italy. Between having to deal with the striking ability of Zlatan Ibrahimović and the defense posed by Victor Lindelof and Andreas Granqvist, Italy will struggle to break through. Although I believe they’ll be able to put a goal in to stay away from a blowout loss, Italy will not have enough to get past Sweden.

Man of the Match(Italy): Simone Zaza

Score Prediction: 2-1 Sweden

Richard Bowman: This is easily the most interesting game of the group just based on the fact that these two teams will most likely be playing for 2nd place in the group. I expect Italy’s attack to be more aggressive here as there could be some desperation if they do lose to Belgium in the first game. Look for Italy’s attack to come through but Sweden to even things up with Zlatan Ibrahimović leading the way.

Man of the Match(Italy): Simone Zaza and Stephan El Shaarawy

Score Prediction: 2-2


Match 3: Italy vs Republic of Ireland

Piero Fiorino: Italy can reminisce about 2012 all they want, but the fact remains, this is not the same team that they faced in 2012. Although I don’t believe the Republic of Ireland will pose a huge threat to the Azzurri, the Italians can not take this team lightly. They will have to make sure they keep a tight watch on Republic’s main goal scorers Robbie Keane and Shane Long if they hope to advance with a win.

Man of the Match(Italy): Daniele De Rossi

Score Prediction: 3-1 Italy

Richard Bowman: The game Italy must win and I like them to get the job done just as they did in 2012. Graziano Pelle will finally get on the board, just like Balotelli did against Ireland in 2012. One has to figure that if Italy wants to make a deep run than Pelle will have to be what Balotelli was for Italy in 2012.

Man of the Match(Italy): Graziano Pelle and Leonardo Bonucci

Score Prediction: 2-0 Italy


Italy will advance past the group stage if… 

Piero Fiorino: they have to attack. Their defense is solid even without Chiellini, so as long as they focus on taking shots and controlling possession, Italy should have no problem advancing out of the group stage

Richard Bowman: Their defense holds up and they can get enough up front. Italy’s midfield but they do have more creative and speed there this tournament than in recent ones.

Italy’s best player will be… 

Piero Fiorino: Giorgio Chiellini

Richard Bowman: Leonardo Bonucci

The biggest surprise for Italy will be… 

Piero Fiorino: Stephan El Shaarawy

Richard Bowman: Alessandro Florenzi

If Italy suffers another early tourney exit then what happens? 

Piero Fiorino: Expect not only multiple changes at the helm and upper management but a few shakeups to the roster as well. Expect to see vets move out and more of the U21s representing the Azzuri at the next major tournament. Italy isn’t in shambles, though. So if they do take another early round exit, expect to see them back at the top soon after.

Richard Bowman: Expect big changes. Obviously, Conte will be gone since he’ll be leaving for Chelsea. Italy will need to make big changes at the top. There isn’t a talent problem in Italy like many think, the big problem is there’s just no direction and too many playing the politics game. Italy will need to create a cohesive atmosphere with direction if they want to regain their spot as one of the top soccer nations.


Writers note: Feel free to comment below your thoughts or let us know on twitter at @PieroFiorino and @SGSFranchise. Also, be sure to follow @SportsTalkFeed for all your latest sports news and talk!

Soccer Dept: http://www.newordersports.com/category/soccer/

Soccer writers: 

Steve Zavala – @atstevezavala

Jesse Tapia – @JTapia_03

Larry Henry – @lhenry019

Roberto Lopez – @RobTheJob_ADM11

 

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