Throughout passed friendlies and European qualifiers, Antonio Conte’s Italy squad has received their fair share of criticism. In fact, some critics have deemed this summer’s squad to be “the worst Italy squad in years”. With an influx of young players who lack the ideal amount of experience at the international level, the absence of faith in Italy’s Euro 2016 run this summer is comprehensible. Insufficient experience on the international stage as a whole often results in lack of chemistry between the players. How well will the players with significantly more caps mesh with newer call-ups?
As if Conte’s job isn’t stressful enough, Italy midfielders Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio have both been ruled out of the competition following a groin and knee injury, respectively. Marchisio tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee after a tackle in Juve’s 4-0 win over Palermo while Verratti has had groin issues since January. There’s no denying that the PSG and Juventus midfielders would’ve been crucial in Italy’s efforts at a successful run. Assuming Conte will run three center midfielders, fans may see Parolo and Thiago Motta line up along side De Rossi, though it is still too early to predict without a final call-up list.
Does this mean viewers should count out the Azzurri completely? Not necessarily. Though it is unlikely they will win the competition, Italy has surprised viewers in the past when they were counted out amongst favored teams. For example, regardless of the embarrassing final score, Italy advanced to the 2012 UEFA Euro Cup final against Spain defeating the Republic of Ireland, England (4-2 on penalties), and Germany 2-1 whose only goal was a penalty scored in the closing moments of the game.
The Azzurri will start their summer campaign in Group E with highly-rated Belgium, Sweden, and the Republic of Ireland. Their first match will be played on June 13th against Belgium at Stade de Lyon.