Alessandro Del Piero is confident that Italy can go a long way at Euro 2016, despite Antonio Conte’s men coming in for criticism ahead of the tournament.
Italy only scored 16 goals in 10 qualification matches and concerns have been raised over their creative play and the lack of a prolific striker in attack.
But the country’s strong defence gives Del Piero optimism, along with the fact their 1982 and 2006 World Cup wins came after they were criticised going into the tournaments.
“Remember that goals sell tickets, but defence wins you titles – we only conceded twice in 2006,” Del Piero told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio are missing in midfield – two great players – but Conte’s formation means everyone is involved. I hope that the strikers have saved their goals for the tournament.
“It can happen as long as the players have human and technical qualities. There are certain matches when things just click. The fact Italy enter his tournament facing some criticism, like 2006 and 1982, leaves me hopeful.”
Del Piero paid tribute to Juventus quartet Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini – all of whom were playing with Del Piero at Juventus in 2012 and are set to play a key role for Italy at the Euros.
The 41-year-old added: “They are great players and I won a World Cup with Gigi and Andrea.
“Giorgio is a great professional, while Bonucci has a lot of quality. It doesn’t surprise me that they are still there.”
Del Piero – capped 91 times – won the World Cup with Italy and sits tied for fourth in their goalscoring charts.
He is impressed by many of the nations favoured to go all the way, but did not dismiss the possibility of a surprise winner.
“Germany will be a key side,” said Del Piero. “France are playing at home and I saw a lot of positives two years ago and they now have more experience. They are very patriotic and the Paris attacks will spur them on.
“Then there is Spain, who have a lot of history behind them. After that are Italy, England and Belgium. I wouldn’t rule out surprises like Greece in 2004 and Denmark in 1992.”
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