Sara Gama helped Italy to the 2009 quarter-finals as a raw 20-year-old. The now more experienced full-back hopes they can improve on that showing this summer in Sweden.
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Two-time European runners-up Italy have dipped since their 1990s peak but as UEFA Women's EURO 2013 approaches they are again a force to be reckoned with.
Part of the new generation helping them regain the status once achieved by Carolina Morace and company is 24-year-old full-back Sara Gama. Having captained Italy to 2008 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship success, a year later she aided the senior team to the Women's EURO quarter-finals in Finland. Now she speaks to UEFA.com as Antonio Cabrini's side aim to improve on that showing in Sweden.
UEFA.com: How far can Italy go?
Sara Gama: I won't give any predictions, but we have a good team and, as I said before, if we can be in good physical shape we are technically and tactically a good team, and we are aware of that.
UEFA.com: What are your strengths?
Gama: Good moves on the wings via [Elisa] Camporese and [Melania] Gabbiadini, who serve Patrizia Panico in the middle – that's what our game could look like.
UEFA.com: How would you reflect on qualifying?
Gama: I think the most important games were the ones against Russia. They were our main Group 1 rivals and we managed to win both matches against them to help us qualify. We scored a lot of goals in our qualification campaign and didn't concede any. So we had a good campaign.
UEFA.com: You played in Italy's run to the 2009 quarter-finals. How does this squad compare?
Gama: Well, it's the same thing, because a lot of the girls who had that experience at the EURO are still in the team. It was the first one for me. So we've gained experience over the intervening years, and have refined our play, so now we can do better.
UEFA.com: What do you think of your Group A opponents in Halmstad, namely Finland, Denmark and Sweden?
Gama: They will all be very hard matches, because all the teams are pretty strong physically. We know the Finland team as we played them in qualification [for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup]. We haven't played Denmark for a while, but all Scandinavian teams have the same sort of system. And with Sweden we will be facing the hosts – they're a great team and it will be hard to play them.