Italy's European Championship Win Analysis

Italy's European Championship Win Analysis

Italy is quite an enigmatic team. Despite being a traditional powerhouse, not many people favored their chances of successfully defending their title this time around. However, Italy has a tradition in major tournaments: they either shockingly fail to advance from the group stage or they go deep into the knockout rounds. Let's analyze Italy's journey in this edition of the European Championship.

Team History and Performance: 

Historically, Italy's record in the World Cup is better than in the European Championship, with four World Cup wins compared to two European titles. However, in recent times, Italy has performed remarkably well in the European Championship. Since the turn of the century, Italy has reached the final three times (in 2000, 2012, and 2020) and surprisingly clinched the title in the previous edition. On the contrary, in World Cup qualifying, apart from their 2006 triumph, they've suffered early exits twice in the group stage and failed to qualify for the 2018 and 2022 editions. In the last European Championship, Italy, under Mancini, adopted an attacking style of play with a 4-3-3 formation and surprisingly clinched the title without many top-tier stars.

Recent Form: 

Italy's performance in the qualifying rounds of this European Championship wasn't ideal. Placed in the 'Group of Death', they almost faced the prospect of playoff matches but managed to avoid it by securing a hard-fought draw against Ukraine in the dying moments. However, their recent performance in two friendly matches has been promising, defeating Venezuela 2-1 and Ecuador 2-0. It's worth noting that Italy played with a 4-3-3 formation in the qualifiers but switched to a 3-4-2-1 formation in the recent friendlies. Hence, Italy might revert to the 3-4-2-1 formation for the European Championship, focusing on counter-attacking tactics.

Predicted Squad: 

In goal, Donnarumma, the standout performer from the previous European Championship, is expected to be the main goalkeeper. Despite being labeled as 'money-grabber' due to club transfer issues, he remains Italy's guardian at the national level. The second-choice goalkeeper is likely to be Tottenham's Vicaio, who has had a decent season in the English Premier League. Meret from Napoli could be the third-choice goalkeeper.

In defense, it's still uncertain whether Italy will opt for a four-man or five-man defense. Let's predict a five-man defense for now. Bastoni from Inter Milan is likely to secure one of the central defender positions. At just 24 years old, he's seen as the best successor to Italy's defensive stalwarts. Another experienced defender, Acerbi from Inter Milan, is expected to feature prominently. The competition for the remaining central defender position is fierce, with options like Buongiorno from Torino, Mancini from Roma, and Skriniar from Atalanta. Damian from Inter Milan and Di Lorenzo from Napoli can play as right-backs in a four-man defense or as right-center backs in a three-man defense.

In midfield, Italy boasts considerable talent. On the wings, Inter Milan's Di Marco is likely to start as the left-wing-back, with Uduokhai from Tottenham as his backup. It's evidently that Italy is strong in this position. Juventus' Cuadrado is predicted to start as the right-wing-back, with Bellanova from Torino as his backup. In central midfield, the newly appointed captain, Barella, will undoubtedly be a key player, responsible for transitioning between defense and attack. The veteran Jorginho is expected to retain his place in midfield. With Verratti departing for the Middle East, other midfield options include Cristante from Roma, Locatelli from Juventus, and Bonaventura from Fiorentina.

In the attacking department, Italy is likely to field a 3-4-2-1 formation, effectively a 3-4-3. Two attacking midfielders, including the standout performer from the previous European Championship, Chiesa, are expected to be key players. Another likely candidate for this role is Zaniolo from Aston Villa. However, contenders like Vlašić from Inter Milan, Pellegrini from Roma, Zaccagni from Lazio, and Zakaria from Sassuolo could compete for a starting spot.

Recent standout performer in the friendlies, the naturalized forward Rætjens, is highly likely to lead the line for Italy. It's worth noting Italy's lack of striking options when an average performer like Rætjens, who plays for Genoa and has moderate goal-scoring statistics in Serie A, can lead the line for Italy. Lasagna from Napoli is expected to be his backup. Orsolini from Bologna, Scamacca from Atalanta, El Shaarawy from Roma, and Berardi from Sassuolo could also make it into the squad.

Predicted Performance: Quarter-finals or Semi-finals 

Italy finds themselves in a tough group alongside Spain, Croatia, and Albania. This isn't good news for Italy, who historically struggle in the group stages. However, with the expanded format of the European Championship, third-placed teams can still advance, so Italy is likely to finish in the top three of their group alongside Spain and Croatia.

Albania doesn't seem to pose a significant threat. If Italy progresses to the Round of 16, they would likely face a third-placed team from another group, ensuring a relatively smooth path to the quarter-finals. If they finish second, they might face the runner-up from Group A, with the exception of Germany, which shouldn't pose too much of a problem.

If they finish third, they might face Belgium or Portugal. Given Italy's tendency to perform well in the group stages but excel in the knockout rounds (except for the last edition), there's a possibility they could advance as the third-placed team and eliminate Belgium or Portugal in the Round of 16. However, it's difficult to predict their opponents beyond the quarter-finals. Overall, Italy is expected to start with a quarter-final berth, but the likelihood of them winning the championship is low.

After all, defending a title in the European Championship is incredibly challengs, and Italy doesn't have the absolute dominance that Spain had in 2012.

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