Advantages A good balance of prime and experience, good domestic seasons for the players involved
Disadvantages Betting scandal a possible distraction, lack of left-back cover, grouped with tournament favourite
Given their embarrassing campaign in the World Cup of 2010, and the lightening season of some of its players and it's biggest domestic club, I'm going for an Italian win for the Euro 2012 Championships this summer.
Cesare Prandelli's tactical progression as Italy coach has been a consistent one. From the 23 players picked in this Euro 2012 squad, only the defenders of Abate, Maggio and Balzaretti offer any sort of wing-play advancement going forward, in that they can sprint forward as a wing-back, and rely on the remaining defenders to cover for them. Abate and Maggio are both likely to feature as a right wing-back, with my preference being Christian Maggio. Balzaretti is the only out-and-out left wing-back in the team after Domenico Criscito's departure, but this isn't surprising given the lack of good Italian wing-backs available in the national pool. So much so, that during the season with Juventus, the Serie A champions and a team that conceded just 20 goals all season in the league, Chiellini was allowed to foray along the left wing from the back three, sometimes cutting inside. The ability of the big man was quite astonishing at times, with his strength and control being highlighted. I would, however, expect Cesare Prandelli to demand he stay at the back, deployed more centrally, until a set-piece of some sort, to which his height and strength will be invaluable.The midfield will either consist of Andrea Pirlo as a deep-lying playmaker - his now-natural position on a football field, and one he excels in - or Danielle De Rossi, who filled in at centre back for Roma this season, and did an outstanding job. Unlike Pirlo, De Rossi's best attribute is probably his tackling, whereas Pirlo's tackling is the only part of his game that lets him down. Prandelli has been known to use a 4-1-3-2 tactic, which begs the question as to whether De Rossi and Pirlo will actually play in the same games. If so, I would expect Pirlo to sit in the middle of the advanced three midfielders, with De Rossi behind them to act as cover, possibly alternating with Pirlo during the game.
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