by Jack Sargeant
Italy aren’t one of the favourites for Euro 2012 – even less so than England, according to the bookies. The Calcioscommesse affair has meant that the focus has switched from on-field action to off-field scandal, with a squad ravaged by unwelcome and unsubstantiated rumours.
On paper, it seems there’s no way that Italy can win the tournament. But, stranger things can – and indeed have – happened in the past. In no particular order, here are five reasons why the Azzurri cannot be counted out.
The Juventus defence
As the English media love to keep reminding us, the Italy defence is as solid as can be. While it might not feature legends of recent tournaments like Fabio Cannavaro, Paolo Maldini or Alessandro Nesta, it is still arguably the strongest area of the team.
This is aided by the fact that at least two of the Juventus trio of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini will be in the starting eleven, with this familiarity potentially proving invaluable, especially with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon also coming from the club side which conceded only 20 goals in their Serie A campaign.
Juventus conceded just 9.3 shots per game in their Scudetto-winning season, with only two teams in Europe conceding fewer – Barcelona (7.3) and Bayern Munich (8.5).