World Cup champions of 2006, Italy have seen a vast decline in fortunes. Coinciding with the retirement of many of their golden generation of stars, a new crop of talent has taken their place, as they look to conquer Europe.
Angelo Ogbonna, 24, Torino (Italy), Defender, 3 international caps
Of Nigerian descent, Ogbonna has gone to be a regular starter for his club Torino. He has made 125 appearances over 4 seasons. Well built, decisive in the tackle, and strong in the air, he will be among Italy’s new breed of young defenders.
Sebastian Giovinco, 25, Parma (Italy), Striker, 8 international caps
Giovinco started his career at Juventus, but was loaned to Empoli early on to get more starts. Despite his 6 goals, he wasn’t able to save them from relegation. Two more seasons at Juventus followed, where he played sporadically, and scored 9 goals in total. He was loaned to Parma, which later became a permanent deal, and he was prolific last season scoring 16 and assisting 11. He can be a very useful striker, with his passing ability.
Mario Balotelli, 21, Manchester City (England), Striker, 8 international caps
The ultimate trump card of them all, the enigmatic Mario Balotelli has made headlines wherever he has gone. Blessed with enviable footballing talent, and also a short fuse, Balotelli could be Italy’s most potent weapon on the bench. He started his career at Inter, where he quickly made his name with some powerful goals. After 3 seasons, where he netted 28 times, he moved to big spending Manchester City for a whopping £23.5 million, and has been an entertaining figure, with his antics on and off the field. He scored 17 goals in all competitions last season, helping the club to its first title in 44 years. He scored the opening goal against Poland in a friendly in November.