Former Italy goalkeeper Dino Zoff believes his nation are one of the favourites to win Euro 2012.
The Azzurri have had a troubled build-up to the competition in Ukraine and Poland, with a betting scandal once more bringing controversy to the game in the country.
Despite this and a 3-0 defeat to Russia in their final friendly before the competition started, the 70-year-old feels Cesare Prandelli’s men can spring a surprise or two.
“Italy are much more than outsiders, as I’d put them among the top-four favourites,” he told Radio Mana Mana.
“Everyone seems to think Spain or Germany are the favourites, but I say we’re in there too.
“The Azzurri have a balanced group, but they can get through to the next round.”
Much has been made of Italy’s tactics, with the side expected to change to a 3-5-2 formation against Spain in their opener on Sunday.
“I am not surprised by the change in tactics, as a good coach must be versatile and know how to adapt for the occasion based on the players he has,” he said.
“Compared to 2006 the squad is much less mature, as there are players like Mario Balotelli, Emanuele Giaccherini and others who are on their first really big European stage.
“It is certainly an advantage not to be at peak physical fitness right now, because it means we can only improve.
“Those who play in the Premier League could suffer fatigue more than the others. As for our pre-tournament friendlies, they are never played with the right determination and therefore are not reliable indicators.”
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