UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Italy | UEFA EURO 2020

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EURO pedigree

Previous final tournaments: 9
EURO best: champions (1968)

Despite reaching the final twice this century, four-time FIFA World Cup winners Italy have failed to add to their only EURO success, which came on home soil back in 1968. The Azzurri lost the 2000 final against France in painful fashion, when they were seconds from lifting the trophy, and were demolished 4-0 by Spain in 2012.

Key players

Every goal on Italy's road to EURO 2020

Every goal on Italy’s road to EURO 2020

Gianluigi Donnarumma (22 caps)
Filling the huge void left by Gianluigi Buffon was never going to be easy for anybody, but the young AC Milan goalkeeper has already proved that Italy are again in safe hands. A veteran at 21, Donnarumma is already a seasoned international, has kept a clean sheet in half his caps and has never conceded more than one goal. A giant between the posts, he has also markedly improved with his feet and command of his defence.

Nicolò Barella (18 caps, 4 goals)
Roberto Mancini prefers a possession-based brand of football; so far, his decision to use a midfield trio of relatively small but technically gifted players has paid off. Jorginho and Marco Verratti are key cogs in this sense, but Barella has developed into a complete modern midfielder who brings energy, educated feet and timely runs into the opposition box. He has become almost irreplaceable in Mancini’s starting XI.

Memorable EURO goals

Balotelli's 2012 semi-final stunner for Italy

Balotelli’s 2012 semi-final stunner for Italy

• After an initial 1-1 draw, Italy and Yugoslavia were forced into a replay to decide the 1968 UEFA European Championship final. Two days later, the Azzurri had already taken the lead when Pietro Anastasi’s sublime flick and volley virtually killed the game and crowned Italy as champions.

• Penalties are not often considered memorable goals but Francesco Totti’s Panenka spot kick against co-hosts the Netherlands in the 2000 semi-finals will always be special to Italian tifosi – not least because the Azzurri had lost on penalties in the previous three World Cups.

• The enigmatic Mario Balotelli’s second goal in the 2012 semi-final against Germany was a rocket, and his muscle-bound celebration just as easily recalled.

Memorable moments

Totti and Toldo's EURO 2000 Italy penalty heroics

Totti and Toldo’s EURO 2000 Italy penalty heroics

• Lifting the trophy in 1968 is yet to be matched. Italy rode their luck when they won their semi-final against the Soviet Union thanks to a coin toss, before then avoiding defeat in the final via Angelo Domenghini’s late free-kick. Goals from Luigi Riva and Anastasi were enough for victory in the replay.

• Only playing because Buffon fractured a finger ahead of the tournament, Francesco Toldo was the hero of the epic 2000 semi-final against the Netherlands. Italy were reduced to ten men early on, Toldo ensuring they survived 120 minutes of backs-to-the-wall defending and two missed Dutch penalties in normal time before three further spurned spot kicks in the shoot-out.

UEFA.tv: Full EURO 2000 shoot-out


Stats

Anastasi fires Italy to 1968 glory

Anastasi fires Italy to 1968 glory

Most final tournament appearances
17: Gianluigi Buffon
13: Antonio Cassano, Alessandro Del Piero, Paolo Maldini
12: Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi

Most final tournament goals
3: Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano
2: Pierluigi Casiraghi, Filippo Inzaghi, Graziano Pellè, Andrea Pirlo, Francesco Totti

Killer stat: Italy have drawn more EURO final tournament games than any other nation (16).

Did you know?

• Italy (1968) are one of three teams to have won the trophy on home soil, along with Spain (1964) and France (1984).

• Anastasi, 20 years and 64 days, remains the youngest ever scorer in a final.

• Buffon has made more EURO appearances as captain than anyone else (13).

UEFA.tv: Great Italy EURO goals



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