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Team guide: Italy

Luigi Di Biagio's Azzurrini played a successful game of catch-up in qualifying Group 9 before dispatching Slovakia in the play-offs to book their ticket for the finals in the Czech Republic.

Italy are aiming for a record sixth title in the Czech Republic
Italy are aiming for a record sixth title in the Czech Republic ©Juraj Stefanovic

Five-time champions Italy recovered from a troubled start to their qualifying campaign to reach the Czech Republic. The 2013 runners-up lost their opening qualifier at home to Belgium, and were also beaten in Serbia, but rallied from conceding two early goals to the latter nation in Pescara to win 3-2 and clinch top spot in the section.

Palermo striker Andrea Belotti scored twice in that encounter, and also in both legs of the play-off against Slovakia as the Azzurrini prevailed 4-2 on aggregate.

"We honestly thought it was going to be very difficult to qualify from our group considering how strong our opponents were," admitted coach Luigi Di Biagio. "We have to work hard to keep improving, but there is plenty of enthusiasm so we can be positive."

Coach: Luigi Di Biagio
Born 03/06/71
Di Biagio was promoted from his role as Italy U20 boss in June 2013, replacing Devis Mangia. The erstwhile Roma and Inter midfielder was in the Azzurri team beaten by David Trezeguet's golden goal for France in the UEFA EURO 2000 final in Rotterdam.

Final tournament record
2013: runners-up
2011: 
did not qualify 
2009:
 semi-finals
2007: group stage
2006: group stage
2004: winners
2002: semi-finals
2000: winners
1996: winners
1994: winners
1992: winners
1990: semi-finals
1988: quarter-finals
1986: runners-up
1984: semi-finals
1982: quarter-finals
1980: quarter-finals
1978: quarter-finals

2015 qualifying (including play-off)
P10 W7 D1 L2 F23 A9
Top scorers:
 Andrea Belotti (6)
Ever presents: Francesco Bardi, Christian Battocchio

Italy U21s capped at senior level
None

Players with previous U21 final tournament experience
Israel 2013: Francesco Bardi, Nicoa Leali, Matteo Bianchetti, Cristiano Biraghi

Most capped player
All-time: Andrea Pirlo (46)
Current: Francesco Bardi (37)

Leading scorer
All-time: Alberto Gilardino (19)
Current: Andrea Belotti (9)

Biggest wins
Final tournament 
4-0: Italy v Israel, 08/06/13
Group stage, Bloomfield Stadium, Tel Aviv

Qualifying 
8-1: Italy v Wales, 05/09/03
Qualifying group stage, Stadio Fortunato, Pavia
7-0:
 Italy v Liechtenstein, 06/09/12
Qualifying group stage, Stadio Ceravolo, Catanzaro
7-0: Italy v Estonia, 23/03/95
Qualifying group stage, Stadio Ceravolo, Catanzaro

Heaviest defeats
Final tournament 
3-1: USSR v Italy, 02/04/80
Quarter-finals, Razdam Stadium, Jereven
3-1: England v Italy, 18/04/84  
Quarter-finals, Maine Road, Manchester

Qualifying
6-0: Norway v Italy, 05/06/91
Qualifying group stage, Stavanger Stadion, Stavanger

*Statistics last updated 25/06/15