Team guide: Italy

Mario Balotelli
Italy striker Mario Balotelli - there's never a dull moment with the Man City enigma. Photo: PA

Head coach: Cesare Prandelli

Pedigree: The Azzurri's record is patchy: on one hand they have failed to qualify for five previous European Championship finals, a poor record for a footballing nation of Italy's stature, but they did win it on home turf in 1968, beating Yugoslavia in a replayed final.

Euro 2012 chances: File Italy in the second tier of teams, along with the likes of France and Portugal. They don't have the quality of favourites Spain, Germany and Holland, but they do count on experienced players who are used to playing with and against each other at club level - as usual, the vast majority of Italy's squad play for Serie A sides. It remains to be seen if the latest match-fixing scandal helps or harms the squad's chances.

Key man: Andrea Pirlo is Italy's class act in central midfield - he is the architect of their play, much as Xavi is for Spain. Pirlo will be 33 by the time Euro 2012 kicks off, so this will probably be his last chance to win a major trophy in Azzurri blue.

Euro 2012 group fixtures: v Spain (10 June, Gdansk), v Croatia (14 June, Poznan), v Republic of Ireland (18 June, Poznan).

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 (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 (Roma), Antonio Cassano (AC Milan), Antonio Di Natale (Udinese), Sebastian Giovinco (Parma).

Gigi Buffon
Gigi Buffon is still one of the world's top keepers. Credit: PA

Classic clip: Italy lose out to Russia in 1988.

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