Best EURO performance: winners 1968
Coach: Cesare Prandelli
Leading scorer: all-time – Luigi Riva (35); current – Alessandro Del Piero (27)
Most appearances: all-time – Fabio Cannavaro (136); current – Gianluigi Buffon (114)
Association formed: 1898
Nickname: Azzurri (Blues)
The Azzurri have endured a turbulent period since claiming a fourth FIFA World Cup in 2006, but Cesare Prandelli has brought stability and fresh impetus since his summer 2010 appointment. He took the reins after a forgettable defence of their global title in South Africa, finishing bottom of a group that also included Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand. Yet Italy, edged out on penalties by Spain in the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals, head to Poland and Ukraine hopeful of a second continental crown after striding through qualifying unbeaten, conceding just two goals in ten outings.
UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying
Group C: winners
Leading scorer: Antonio Cassano (6)
Ever-presents: Giorgio Chiellini, Antonio Cassano (10)
Italy progressed with two games to spare and finished the campaign undefeated, their tally of 26 points from ten games a national record in a qualifying section for a major tournament. The Azzurri also finished with the best defensive record across the nine groups, conceding only two goals.
Discounting the six minutes played of the home game against Serbia before it was abandoned, Italy did not concede for 625 minutes between Estonia finding the net in their opening fixture in September 2010 to Serbia's goal 13 months later. Cesare Prandelli's team are still unbeaten in ten competitive games.
In the last qualifier against Northern Ireland, captain Gianluigi Buffon earned his 110th cap, taking him fourth on the all-time Italian list, while striker Antonio Cassano scored twice to make it six goals in the campaign.
"My side try to unite Italians, not divide them," Prandelli said. "We have ideas, feelings and altruism. I know we will be judged on our results but we have already done a lot. Now it is time to focus on the finals. I just hope the team will continue on this path."
Italy's sole UEFA European Championship success came in Rome in 1968 when, under coach Ferruccio Valcareggi and with Dino Zoff in goal, Yugoslavia were beaten 2-0 in a final replay after a 1-1 draw. They came close to adding a second European title in 2000, only Sylvain Wiltord's last-gasp equaliser for France denying them before David Trezeguet broke Italian hearts with an extra-time golden goal.
Semi-finalists in 1980 and 1988, Italy have reached every final tournament since 1992, when they were edged out by the Commonwealth of Independent States in qualifying. Their 2008 campaign was led by Roberto Donadoni and was ended by Spain, the eventual champions prevailing on penalties after a goalless quarter-final in Vienna.
Zoff, who lifted the World Cup as Italy captain in 1982 and then took the Azzurri to the final of UEFA EURO 2000 as coach, went 324 minutes without conceding a goal in the 1980 finals, a competition record. Alessandro Del Piero is one of five players to have appeared in four final tournaments – Lothar Matthäus, Peter Schmeichel, Lilian Thuram and Edwin van der Sar are the others – while only Spain (1964) and France (1984) have also lifted the trophy on home soil.
UEFA EURO 2012 Group C fixtures
Sunday 10 June: Spain v Italy, 18.00CET, Gdansk
Thursday 14 June: Italy v Croatia, 18.00CET, Poznan
Monday 18 June: Italy v Republic of Ireland, 20.45CET, Poznan
Team EURO records
Overall: P125 W67 D40 L18 F195 A83
Final tournament: P27 W11 D12 L4 F27 A18
Qualifying: P98 W56 D28 L14 F168 A65
Click here for extensive list of records
Last updated 4 June 2012
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