Gianluigi Buffon believes Italy should be confident of going far at Euro 2024, despite being drawn into a difficult-looking group.
Reigning European champions Italy were placed into Group B during Saturday’s draw in Hamburg.
That means Luciano Spalletti’s team, who rather scraped through in qualifying, will go up against heavyweights Spain, 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Croatia and Albania.
While acknowledging the draw might have been kinder, former Italy stalwart Buffon – the most-capped player in his nation’s history – was bullish about the Azzurri’s chances.
“It was wonderful putting that trophy back in the circle, as we feel pride and responsibility going into this competition as reigning champions,” Buffon told RAI Sport, as reported by Football Italia.
“Seeing as we were in pot four, a tough draw was always going to be probable.
“This group is a bit like the one we had at Euro 2012 with Spain, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland. We went through second and reached the final.
“In the format this time, the four best third-placed sides qualify too, so that increases our chances. We are concerned, but the other teams won’t be jumping for joy at drawing Italy either.
“There will be time until June for this team to improve. In terms of individuals, there are three or four teams in the competition who have stronger squads, but when we are working as a single unit, with one mind, I don’t know how many teams are really stronger than us.”
— Italy (@Azzurri_En) December 2, 2023
Italy will open their campaign against Albania on June 15 in Dortmund, before facing Spain five days later and Croatia on June 24.
Coach Spalletti echoed Buffon’s sentiments, albeit perhaps not with quite as much confidence.
“It could’ve gone better, but then we were in pot four. And never forget that we are Italy,” he told RAI Sport.
“Anyone who loves this sport must enjoy the challenge, otherwise you lose all the pleasure of it.
“Within a match there are going to be various moments where the squad has to defend, even with 10 men around the edge of the box if necessary, but the intention is always to play attractive and attacking football.”
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