Italy Euro 2016 Squad: no place for Pirlo or Balotelli, can they win the Euros?

Antonio Conte

When it comes to major competitions, Italy always seem to be a force to be reckoned with regardless of form or personnel.

The Azzurri will enter this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament quietly confidently after sailing through qualifying and boss Antonio Conte has announced a provisional squad ahead of the competition in France.

As can be seen below, there is no place for tempestuous centre forward Mario Balotelli or veteran pass-master Andrea Pirlo, but there is still quality in the Italy ranks.

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Federico Marchetti (Lazio), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint Germain).

Defenders: Davide Astori (Fiorentina), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham), Daniele Rugani (Juventus).

Midfielders: Marco Benassi (Torino), Giacomo Bonaventura (Milan), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna), Jorginho (Napoli), Riccardo Montolivo (Milan), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint Germain), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus).

Wingers: Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Mattia De Sciglio (Milan), Stephan El Shaarawy (Roma), Davide Zappacosta (Torino).

Forwards: Eder (Inter), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Simone Zaza (Juventus).

As always, Italy’s core will be based around defensive doggedness and the European nation can boast some world-class enforcers in their team, including Buffon and Chiellini.

An injury to Claudio Marchisio robs the Azzurri of experience and craft, while Marco Verratti’s absence is another major blow given his form for Paris Saint-Germain.

With the lack of a potent striker and a number of players who are relatively inexperienced at international level, some will write Italy off – but can they win Euro 2016?

Betting odds for Euro 2016 put Italy as the dark horses at 18.00 with even England pegged higher than the Italians at 11.00.

They have been drawn in a tough-looking Group E alongside Belgium, Sweden and Republic of Ireland and their first priority will be to qualify for the knockout rounds – they are 2.95 to win their group and an easy 1.45 to qualify from it.

Conte will be keen to end his tenure as national boss on a high before moving to English Premier League Chelsea this summer but his team selection will be critical to his side’s chances.

Italy open their tournament against Belgium and will enter the game as underdogs given their opponents’ firepower – the Azzurri are at odds of 3.20 to upset Marc Wilmots’ men and win the opener.

On paper it does not look like the most inspiring Italy team, but write-off these competition experts at your peril.

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