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Group C: Italy Qualified as Group 9 winners
Talent-packed Italy among Euro favourites again
 

Italy always seem to make hard work of qualifying for major tournaments and Euro 2004 was no exception, but having finally made it the beaten finalists four years ago head to Portugal among the strong favourites.

Three games into the qualification campaign, Italy looked more likely to be heading for the playoffs than taking the direct route to the finals as group winners.

They made a poor start to the Group Nine campaign with a 1-1 home draw against Serbia and Montenegro in October 2000 followed by a shock 2-1 loss to Wales in Cardiff four days later.

Both were poor performances with the Azzurri still seemingly suffering from the trauma of their World Cup let-down where they endured a shock second-round exit to co-hosts South Korea.

But the return to fitness of key players, a change in tactics and an injection of fresh talent ensured that Giovanni Trapattoni's side did eventually win their group.

Injuries meant Trapattoni was unable to play his preferred attacking trio of Christian Vieri, Francesco Totti and Alessandro Del Piero.

In midfield the team lacked spark and creativity and the side gave the impression of staleness and lack of confidence.

Some called for a change of coach -- Trapattoni responded with a change of direction.

He used friendlies to rotate his squad and introduce fringe players, offering them a chance to gain experience and give him better cover for injuries in an approach dubbed 'Club Italia'.

Players such as strikers Marco Di Vaio and Bernardo Corradi emerged as the preferred back-up to Vieri and Totti and Parma defender Matteo Ferrari was given a chance to show he could replace either Fabio Cannavaro or Alessandro Nesta.

The centre of midfield was radically altered with Inter Milan's Cristiano Zanetti and Chievo's Simone Perrotta establishing themselves as the holding duo.

Trapattoni also found a replacement for the retired Paolo Maldini at left-back with Juve's Gianluca Zambrotta converted from midfield.

By the time of the return fixtures against Wales and Serbia and Montenegro, Italy had adopted an attacking approach with Vieri supported by Del Piero, Totti and another new face -- Juventus's Argentine-born winger Mauro Camoranesi.

The depth of choice available to Trapattoni was illustrated by Filippo Inzaghi's hat-trick in the 4-0 crushing of the Welsh in September which turned around the qualifying campaign.

A draw in Belgrade and a 4-0 win at home to Azerbaijan in the final qualifier wrapped up what, in the end, was a relatively stress-free route to the finals.

Since then Trapattoni has tried out other new faces and has also been boosted by the return to form of some of those who faded from the scene during qualification.

Milan midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Gennaro Gattuso, who both failed to establish themselves after moving up from the under-21 side, have been outstanding this season and give Trapattoni even more options in midfield.

Even in the already talent-packed forward line the emergence of Roma striker Antonio Cassano this season gives Trapattoni more possibilities in his search for an attack that can break down the continent's best defences.

Now 'Club Italia' must show they can do much better than the disappointment of the World Cup and for the surviving core of players from the Euro 2000 final there is the memory of that 'golden goal' defeat to France to extinguish.

With so much talent to choose from all Trapattoni has to do is find the right mix and make sure that this time around the Italians live up to their potential.
- Simon Evans
 
  Star Player

Name Alessandro Nesta
Position Defender
Club Milan
DOB 19.03.1976

Classy Nesta is crucial to Italy's chances
It is taken for granted that Italy will present themselves at a major 

tournament with one of the world's tightest defences.
Tight marking, incisive tackling and astute reading of the intentions of their opponents appear to be in the DNA of Italian defenders and Alessandro Nesta is the model Serie A centre half...   [more]

  Star Player

Name Francesco Totti
Position Forward
Club Roma
DOB 27.09.1976

Totti ready to make big impact for Italy

Francesco Totti is no longer a promising youngster or an emerging talent but the kingpin of an Italian side who are among the favourites to win Euro 2004.
So much depends on whether Totti can consistently perform at his best in Portugal that it is no exaggeration to say that if Totti fails, Italy are likely to struggle too.
If, on the other hand, the Roma captain can provide the refined passing and clinical finishing he has shown over the past four seasons in Serie A, it will take a great side to stop the Italians next month...   [more]

 

  The Coach
Trapattoni looking to seal his place in history
Giovanni Trapattoni is the most successful Italian club coach of the modern era but it is the Euro 2004 finals that will deliver the verdict on his ability as national team boss.
Trapattoni, a winner of seven Serie A titles and a host of cups in his coaching career at clubs including Juventus and Inter Milan, has twice faced intense criticism from the media for his handling of the talent-packed Italy squad.
The first campaign began following the poor showing at the World Cup in 2002 when the 65-year-old Trapattoni came under fire after the second-round exit to co-hosts South Korea.
The Italians were among the pre-tournament favourites after an impressive qualifying campaign but never met expectations and Trapattoni took some blame for retreating from attacking football to the more traditional, cautious, Italian approach.
Trapattoni survived paying the price for that deep disappointment largely due to the Italian media and public preferring to blame refereeing decisions for their team's demise rather than their coach's conservative tactics.
But within a few months he was facing intense pressure and heavy speculation over his future after the Azzurri made a stuttering start to Euro 2004 qualification with a home draw with Serbia and Montenegro and a defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
Had there been an available alternative to the silver-haired, slightly eccentric coach, the Italian FA might well have been tempted to change.
Instead, they stuck with the man widely known as 'Trap' and the coach grabbed his second chance with both hands.
He drafted in a new generation of back-up players to add freshness and competition to his squad with some of those introduced, such as Chievo's Simone Perrotta and Juve's Mauro Camoranesi, earning regular slots.
Thanks largely to a 4-0 win over Wales, the Italians turned around their qualifying campaign and finished comfortable winners of their group.
Since then, Trapattoni has been searching for fresh faces to add some competition to the regulars who have been with him since he took charge almost four years ago.
Roma's Antonio Cassano has been given a chance in attack but Trapattoni has shown a willingness to try out players from less fashionable clubs.
Empoli's Antonio Di Natale, Bologna's Carlo Nervo and Sampdoria's Stefano Bettarini were among those handed an opportunity, although none made the final squad.
Instead Trapattoni opted for experience in the form of Lazio pair Giuseppe Favalli and Angelo Peruzzi saying that a few "grey beards" could come in handy.
Now Trapattoni has a chance to put the memory of the World Cup behind him and prove he can get the very best out of a squad which, with Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri, contains some of the best attacking talent in the game.

 

  The Squad

 Italy

Players DOB Club Cap Goal
Giovanni Trapattoni C 17.03.1939
1. Gianluigi Buffon G 28.01.1978 Juventus 46 0
12. Francesco Toldo G 02.12.1971 Inter 29 0
22. Angelo Peruzzi G 16.02.1970 Lazio 27 0
5. Fabio Cannavaro D 13.09.1973 Inter 78 1
13. Alessandro Nesta D 19.03.1976 Milan 59 0
23. Marco Materazzi D 19.08.1973 Inter 13 0
6. Matteo Ferrari D 05.12.1979 Parma 11 0
2. Christian Panucci D 12.04.1973 Roma 45 2
3. Massimo Oddo D 14.06.1976 Lazio 12 0
15. Giuseppe Favalli D 01.08.1972 Lazio 5 0
19. Gianluca Zambrotta D 19.02.1977 Juventus 37 1
14. Stefano Fiore M 17.04.1975 Lazio 31 2
16. Mauro Camoranesi M 04.10.1976 Juventus 8 0
4. Cristiano Zanetti M 10.04.1977 Inter 16 1
20. Simone Perrotta M 17.09.1977 Chievo 16 0
21. Andrea Pirlo M 19.05.1979 Milan 9 1
8. Gennaro Gattuso M 09.01.1978 Milan 25 1
10. Francesco Totti F 27.09.1976 Roma 41 6
9. Christian Vieri F 12.07.1973 Inter 40 22
7. Alessandro Del Piero F 09.11.1974 Juventus 63 24
11. Bernardo Corradi F 30.03.1976 Lazio 10 2
18. Antonio Cassano F 12.07.1982 Roma 3 1
17. Marco Di Vaio F 15.07.1976 Juventus 11 2
 

 

 

 

  Profile


Federation
Federazione Italiana Gioco Calcio (1898)

Headquarter Via Gregorio Allegri - 00185 Roma

Website www.figc.it

President Franco Carraro
Best Performance in Finals Champions in 1968
Recent record in Finals
1980 Semi-Final
1984 DNQ
1988 Semi-Final
1992 DNQ
1996 Round-1
2000 Runners-Up

 

  Road to Portugal

2-0
1-1
1-2
2-0
2-0
4-0
1-1
4-0

v Azerbaijan
v Serbia & Mont.
v Wales
v Finland
v Finland
v Wales
v Serbia & Mont.
v Azerbaijan
A
H
A
H
A
H
A
H

 

  Final Tournament

C v Denmark

   1800 CET 14 June 2004

C v Sweden

   2045 CET 18 June 2004

C v Bulgaria

   2045 CET 22 June 2004

 

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