Despite reaching the Euro 2012 final, Italy have been largely anonymous on the international stage since their World Cup Triumph in 2006.
Having failed to qualify for the last World Cup, a low point in Italian Football, the domestic game in Italy declined and it was no longer a destination for Europe’s elite. However, Roberto Mancini’s appointment in 2018 has seen a revival of the Italians. They are unbeaten in 25 games and head into the tournament as serious dark horse contenders.
Group A: ITALY, Switzerland, Turkey, Wales.
Manager: Roberto Mancini
Odds (PP): 8/1
Recent Tournaments: World Cup 2018 (Failed to Qualify) Euro 2016 (Quarter-Finals)
FIFA World Ranking: 7th
Jorginho. The midfielder, often subject to heavy criticism at Chelsea, is Italy’s most important player under Mancini. He is the fulcrum of the team in the centre of the midfield three and is the link from defence to attack.
Mancini named a provisional 33-man squad, which has since been cut to 28. Two more unlucky named will be axed before the June 1st deadline.
It will be the first time since the 2002 World Cup the Azzurri will head into a tournament without Gianluigi Buffon in goals. In his place AC Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma will start, backed up by Salvatore Sirigu and Alex Meret.
The defence is as strong as ever. Juventus stalwarts Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini were both selected and could start in what will surely be their last tournament. They have great depth at centre-back, with Lazio’s Francesco Acerbi, Atalanta’s Rafael Toloi, and youngsters Gianluca Mancini and Alessandro Bastoni also named in the provisional squad.
Alessandro Florenzi and Giovanni Di Lorenzo were selected as the right backs, with Leonardo Spinazzola and Emerson as the left backs.
Nicolo Barella and Marco Veratti were unsurprisingly named and should start alongside Jorginho in midfield. Manuel Locatelli’s impressive season at Sassuolo has earned him a place in the squad. Also selected were Bryan Cristante, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Stefano Sensi and Matteo Pessina.
Mancini named seven forwards in his provisional squad. Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Domenico Berardi are all in contention to start after good seasons in Serie A. Andrea Belotti will likely serve Immobile’s understudy while Federico Bernardeschi and Matteo Politano make up the remaining spots.
One to Watch
Domenico Berardi. The Sassuolo forward would not have been in many peoples Italy squad at the start of the season but 17 goals and 8 assists in 30 games in Serie A makes him now impossible to leave out. He is not guaranteed a start as Federico Chiesa is also having a wonder-season, but he will certainly push the Juventus man close and will be a great option to have should Italy need some spark off their bench.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino)
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Alessandro Florenzi (Paris), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta)
Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Stefano Sensi (Inter), Marco Verratti (PSG)
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Napoli)