2008 Italy Euro Soccer Preview
by Doc's Sports - 05/12/2008
Last time we saw the Azzurri in action they were hoisting the 2006 World Cup trophy in Berlin. Italy captured world football's greatest title, glory over France for the fourth time in the country's history.
Two years prior, however, the Italians were not as fortunate, failing to advance past the group stage of Euro 2004. They finished in a three-way tie with Denmark and Sweden but were the odd team out based on number of goals scored during the initial stage.
After winning the World Cup, Italy has once again shot up the FIFA World Rankings. Twice before they had earned a spot atop the world as a football nation, back in November 1993 and February 2007. They retained first from April of 2007 through June and are now currently third.
Golden Player Watch - Luca Toni, F
Only one of four current national team players that does not play his domestic club league in Italy, Luca Toni still remains Italy's top scoring weapon up front. The 6'5'' striker joined Germany's top-flight club Bayern Munich and his 29 goals this season helped the squad cruise to a Bundesliga title.
Toni has only been a part of the national team since 2004, but in his 15 appearances for his country he already has netted an unreal 33 goals. His attacking prowess is a major advantage for the Azzurri this summer, but also the midfield contingent will play its part. Playmakers Andrea Pirlo, Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perrotta are a fantastic trio that will control pace and create havoc all over the pitch.
Reason Why They Will Advance to Elimination Round
Italy is arguably the most experienced and veteran of all of the nations competing in Euro 2008. Fourteen current footballers have at least 30 caps and essentially the same starting 11 that impressed in Germany for the World Cup will be ready to launch that success again in the European Championships.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is a brick wall in front of the posts and the central defense is just as strong behind Fabio Cannavaro and Marco Materazzi. The biggest difference you'll see in this team is the man on the sidelines. 2006 World Cup champion head man Marcello Lippi split after his national success and Roberto Donadoni was appointed to lead. A former Italian national team player, Donadoni coached three Italian league sides from 2001-2006 and was then named national team manager when Lippi resigned following Italy's World Cup title.
Group Play Schedule
Italy vs. Netherlands - June 9
Italy vs. Romania - June 13
Italy vs. France - June 17