For years Italy has seen themselves be a contender at every major tournament. Euro 2016, although bookmakers and fans give them a chance, things are a little different.
Although they have some experienced players, it’s very much a new-look team, with a team-first emphasis. Usually the Italians were built on a stable back-four, with world-class creative, attacking players to make magic happen in the attacking end of the field. Things will change for Antonio Conte’s men this summer. He has released a 30-man squad, and one he’ll soon thin down, however, the announcement has already got many wondering how they’ll cope with the pressure, and how they’ll fair at this summer’s European championship.
Take a look at their training-camp squad:
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint Germain);
Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Obinze Ogbonna (West Ham), Daniele Rugani (Juventus);
Wingers: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Davide Zappacosta (Torino);
Midfielders: Marco Benassi (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna), Jorge Luiz Jorginho (Napoli), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint Germain), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus);
Forwards: Citadin Martins Eder (Inter), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Graziano Pellè (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Juventus).
Auxiliary goalkeeper: Alex Meret (Udinese)
In the training squad, players like Daniele De Rossi, Ciro Immobile and Graziano Pelle will be crucial. They bring a balance of youth and experience that the squad will need. There are plenty of player changes, and Coral are leading the field again with this article. Showing that there will be plenty of Italian changes this summer.
However, there’s no doubt that Buffon, Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini will be instant starters, and players that the Italians will build the backbone of their squad around. Goalkeeper Buffon, who is playing his last European Championship, recently alluded to the fact that the recent terror attacks in France, the threat of more, all mixed with player-selection choices, have left the squad feeling pressured, but he insists they can cope.
He explained “It’s certainly scary, and it’s right to be cautious, But we’re important social instruments and we can give people dreams. If you want to do that, unfortunately at this moment in history you have to run a few risks. I’m happy to do that if I can give happiness to those who follow football.”
He concluded that the squad selection decisions will not impact those that go. He explained he was misquoted recently about unrest about not taking Francessco Tottie, saying, “People have interpreted certain words I told a child who asked me about his captain. I can confirm that a player with his quality, a phenomenon, won’t be seen very often. That’s a far cry from saying he’ll be called up though. Max Allegri and Antonio Conte? Allegri surprised me for how he changed this year, including his impact in the changing room starting from November.”
Things have certainly changed, but all things must change eventually, and that doesn’t mean the Italians won’t be a force at the Euro’s. Although they lack the star power they once had, and although there’s pressure in almost every direction they face, they’ll unite as one, regardless, when their squad is trimmed down.
Whoever goes, the Italians will have a blend of youth and experience, and will be a more all-around team than they’ve been in previous tournaments. Although they’re not the favourites by any mean to win Euro 2016, you certainly shouldn’t bet against them thriving on the pressure and succeeding.