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Italy's 'BBC' spell out programme for solidity

Real Madrid's 'BBC' is the secret of their attacking prowess but Italy's version, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini, keeps the Azzurri's defence mean.

Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, two of the defenders who keep it tight for Italy
Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli, two of the defenders who keep it tight for Italy ©Getty Images

When Italy open their UEFA EURO 2016 campaign against Belgium in Lyon on Monday, they will do so confident of the solid foundations upon which their challenge is built.

Ahead of the masterly Gianluigi Buffon in goal stand Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini: Italy's 'BBC'.

That quartet not only form the defensive bastion of the Juventus side who have won the past five Serie A titles, they are also the backbone former Vecchia Signora and current Italy coach Antonio Conte expects to help sustain his pursuit of glory in France.

"It's definitely an advantage to be able to rely on four players from Juventus who have played together for a long time in defence, and of course we are building something solid on this basis," Conte told UEFA.com. "But as I said before, I like to adopt a proactive style of play and for this, balance will be important, both in attacking and defending."

Indeed, while Real Madrid's famed 'BBC' of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo add weight to the hypothesis that attack is the best form of defence, Italy's version suggests the opposite: that defence is the best form of attack.

Watch: The best of Buffon

"What's certain is that the defensive operation includes the forwards as well," centre-back Bonucci said. "Our work is made easier by the fact our forwards, just as Conte wants, are our first defenders. They use full-field pressing on the opposition back line, allowing us to be more aggressive."

That is evidenced by Italy's remarkable qualifying campaign in which they did not lose a game – albeit winning only two by more than one goal. That vouches for an efficiency which Chiellini hopes they will be able to maintain right through to 10 July – the date of the final.

"I don't think a team necessarily need to score that many goals; you only have to score one more than your opponents and concede one less," said the 31-year-old. "That is what really counts.

"Furthermore, Italy are not a team who historically score lots of goals. Other sides are more likely to score six in an international match, we are more likely to win 2-0 against the very same team. That is what really counts.

"I think our qualification was really good – we just have to concede fewer goals and score some more, that's it. Personally I would focus more on conceding less because in the knockout stage, if you don't let in any goals, you at least have the chance to win on penalties. Defensive solidarity must be our number one target.

"Then, I'm convinced that with our technical and tactical qualities, and thanks to the contribution of a fantastic coach, we will be able to get a lot of chances to score."

Getting the balance right, therefore, is the aim for this Monday.