This was the heading I used for my preview of the 2006 World Cup football tournament. Those who read my posts at that time would know that I was a staunch Italian fan. This time also, there is no difference. The big changes though are that the scene is Euro 2008 and the team head coach is Roberto Donadoni. This time, the competition in the group of death is tougher, with power stores France and Netherlands alongside FIFA 12th ranked Romania giving Italy company. For this occasion, Italy retained most of its world cup winning players, in fact 14 of 23 in the current squad. They should carry in a lot of good memories and cheerful moments from the past.
Now the team: The fort-protector is the Mighty Buffon again, arguably the best in the world. But the water-tight defence is a bit weaker this time with the absence of Fabio Cannavaro. But then they have the experienced lot of players like Zambrotta, Panucci, Grosso, Materazzi and Barzagli to choose from. There isn’t much changed in the midfield as well. Andrea Pirlo, a resounding presence in the middle and front will hold the key. Though not on par with their own form two years back, Gattuso and De Rossi are special players who will click in the right moment. Camoranesi and Aquilani have been in good form. Perrotta and Ambrosini are hard workers in the midfield. Luca Toni will, again, be the striker-in-chief. The most-experienced Del Piero will give him company. But it is to be seen whether he comes from the bench only in the later parts of the game. Apart from these two and Di Natale, the other three strikers in the side are young talents, with Cassano getting most attention, for obvious reasons!
It is sure that at least one of the three teams, Italy, France and Netherlands will not be seen after the first round. Who will go out and who will go on? All the best to Italy!
Italy was no way near its brilliance in 2006 world cup. They started losing to the Netherlands, then holding on to Romania. They came back to form in the next two matches, but couldn’t carry on from the 2-0 win against France. The shoot-out demon once again killed Italy’s chances of a semi-final berth! They lost 4-2 to Spain on penalties, after a goalless extra-time.