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Updated: June 5, 2012 01:54 IST

Another scandal, another trophy?

R. Narayanan
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LOT TO CHEER ABOUT: Antonio Cassano was Italy’s hero during the
qualification phase, scoring half a dozen goals.
AP LOT TO CHEER ABOUT: Antonio Cassano was Italy’s hero during the qualification phase, scoring half a dozen goals.

Whenever the Azzurri have been hit by match-fixing scandals, they have hit back with cup-winning performances. In 1982 as well as in 2006, the Italians entered the World Cup with their image and confidence in tatters, after the Serie A was rocked by betting allegations. On both occasions, they went on to lay their hands on the trophy.

Ahead of Euro 2012, the Serie A has witnessed yet another scandal, one that threatens to erupt into a major controversy. Can the Italians perform their ‘trick' this time too?

After a dream qualifying campaign during which they remained unbeaten and conceded a mere two goals, Cesare Prandelli's men have floundered in the friendlies, even letting the United States upstage them. The latest loss — a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Russia — has left them heading to Poland and Ukraine with their confidence severely dented.

Skipper and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who too has been involved in the current controversy, knows that the best possible way to silence his detractors is to perform on the field, the way he did in 2006. He will be assisted by a formidable defence in the Juventus trio of Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci, who will be difficult to breach, as many teams seeking Euro qualification found out.

Imaginative Pirlo

Further up, the imaginative and innovative Andrea Pirlo can swing games with his lovely touches and lethal passes. Pirlo is likely to team up with Juventus mate Claudio Marchisio and the temperamental Daniele de Rossi in midfield.

Though they have dried up the goals for their opponents, the Italians have also found goals hard to come by.

Only Antonio Cassano, with six strikes during qualification, has managed to break free and find the target. Cassano, however, has been down with heart problems of late. In case he recovers fully, Cassano can forge a devastating partnership with the talented Mario Balotelli.

Italy's Euro record is nothing to rave about, its only triumph coming in 1968 with the legendary Dino Zoff under the bar. Buffon and his men have the potential to break the 44-year jinx and the first step in this direction will be to beat Spain in what promises to be an exciting opening game for both countries on June 10.

The squad:

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon, Morgan De Sanctis, Salvatore Sirigu.

Defenders: Ignazio Abate, Federico Balzaretti, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Christian Maggio, Angelo Ogbonna.

Midfielders: Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Diamanti, Emanuele Giaccherini, Claudio Marchisio, Riccardo Montolivo, Thiago Motta, Antonio Nocerino, Andrea Pirlo.

Forwards: Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini, Antonio Cassano, Antonio Di Natale, Sebastian Giovinco.

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Hope that happens again. But, going with the current form of the team after the 3-0 humiliation by Russia, going through to the knock outs is by itself an achievement of sorts for the Azzuris.. But, they've shown to the world so many times that Champions will always be champions. Playing pibe di bari as the trequartista with SUPER MARIO & di natale up front would be great.

from:  Sunil
Posted on: Jun 8, 2012 at 08:58 IST
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