Saturday, May 31, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008: Italy Team Preview

The squad: The 2006 World Champions have been less successful at the Euros, failing to advance past the group stages at two of the last three tournaments. Their extra time loss to France in the Euro 2000 Final denied them their first title since 1968. The Azzurri topped a difficult qualifying Group B that included France, World Cup quarterfinalists Ukraine, and pesky Scotland.

The players: The key figures from the 2006 squad are back, including Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni and Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo. Real Madrid's Fabio Cannavaro and Inter Milan's Marco Materazzi anchor the always-stingy defense in front of Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

The schedule: vs. Holland (6/9); vs. Romania (6/13); vs. France (6/17)

The prediction: The road to the final won't be easy, but Italy have the talent and experience needed to get there. In a rematch of their classic 2006 World Cup semifinal, Italy prevails over Germany once again.

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