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Published: Friday 1 July 2011, 15.39CET
Having missed out on the semi-finals for the first time in 2010, former European champions Italy are keen to make amends in Croatia.
Italy ©Cassella/Divisione Calcio a 5


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Published: Friday 1 July 2011, 15.39CET


Having missed out on the semi-finals for the first time in 2010, former European champions Italy are keen to make amends in Croatia.

Italy was one of the first countries in Europe to embrace futsal as a competitive sport, so it was more than appropriate that they were added to the roll of honour as continental champions in 2003.

The Italian championship began in 1983, when it was won by Roma Barilla, nine years after the Azzurri had first tasted international action. They kicked off with a 9-2 defeat of Libya in Rome, but it was not until 1981 that they truly began in earnest – and the following year they finished eighth at the inaugural, unofficial World Cup. They also entered the first FIFA event in 1989, reaching the second group stage.

However, things really took off when a 32-year-old Alessandro Nuccorini became coach in July 1997. Two years later they reached the semi-finals of the inaugural UEFA European Futsal Championship and repeated the trick two years after that, losing to Spain and Ukraine respectively. In 2003, Italy were chosen as hosts and took full advantage of that honour with victory in Caserta. The next year, they lost out to Spain in the 2004 FIFA World Cup final, and they were beaten by the same opponents in the 2007 European decider. Nuccorini stepped down after taking 2008 World Cup bronze, and with former assistant Roberto Menichelli appointed to replace him, Italy exited UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 in the quarter-finals as the new man in charge brought through a new generation of talent.

Qualifying round: Latvia 6-1, Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-0, Slovenia 2-0 (Group 6 winners)

Key players
Marcio Forte, Saad Assis

Coach: Roberto Menichelli

Date of birth: 14 January 1963
Playing career:
Almas Roma (football), Torrino SC, Roma Barilla, SV Helios, Villa Aurelia SC
Coaching career: Italy B, Italy Under-21, Italy

Menichelli had 13 years' experience, the whole of his coaching career, at the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) before stepping up to lead the national team in 2009. A useful fourth-tier footballer with Almas Roma, he found most success in the small-sided game. He helped Torrino to the Italian title in 1993 and 1994, in addition to five cup triumphs, and was called up by Italy 28 times, playing for the Azzurri at the 1992 Futsal World Cup in Hong Kong.

A graduate in Motor Science and a teacher at the Coverciano coaching school and the University Foro Italico in Rome, he has worked for the FIGC since 1996 in a number of roles. He was assistant and fitness coach of the senior futsal team under Alessandro Nuccorini, winning the 2003 UEFA European Futsal Championship, and was technical assistant of the host nation at the football UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Italy. He also led the U21 side before stepping up to coach the senior squad after Nuccorini's departure. Initially in caretaker charge, victories against Georgia, Belarus and Lithuania took Italy to the UEFA Futsal EURO 2010 finals and ensured Menichelli's permanent appointment.

Qualifying top scorers
Edgar Bertoni, Fortino, Vampeta 3

Tournament record
2010: Quarter-finals
2007: Runners-up
2005: Third place
2003: Winners (hosts)
2001: Fourth place
1999: Third place
1996: Fourth place

Last updated: 30/01/12 19.24CET

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