Italy boss Antonio Conte has named a provisional 30-man Euro 2016 squad that will be whittled down to 23 ahead of the May 31 deadline.
The Azzurri go into this summer’s tournament in France as one of the dark horses, but they continue to be plagued by a lack of real quality up front.
Juventus stalwarts Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are expected to form the defensive foundation of the side, while injuries and lack of form leave much to be decided in both midfield and attack.
After suffering a huge double blow in losing Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio to injury, Conte will be forced into a reshuffle that could see veteran players such as Thiago Motta and Daniele De Rossi take control in the middle of the pitch.
Meanwhile, the Azzurri will rely on pace out on both flanks to cause their opposition trouble, with the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy, Alessandro Florenzi, Antonio Candreva and Lorenzo Insigne all hoping to play influential roles.
However, the lack of quality up front could come back to haunt them, as Graziano Pelle, Simone Zaza and Ciro Immobile will likely make the final cut and be tasked with scoring the goals to take Italy deep into the tournament.
It remains to be seen how successful they are, but what is certain is that Conte will demand 100 per cent effort and desire from them to make the most of their collective strength with a lack of stand-out individual star talent at his disposal.
Italy’s provisional 30-man Euro 2016 squad:
Goalkeepers: Buffon, Sirigu, Marchetti.
Defenders: Astori, Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini, Ogbonna, Darmian, Rugani, De Sciglio.
Midfielders: Benassi, Bonaventura, De Rossi, Florenzi, Giaccherini, Jorginho, Montolivo, Motta, Parolo, Sturaro, Zappacosta, Bernardeschi.
Forwards: Candreva, Eder, El Shaarawy, Immobile, Insigne, Pelle, Zaza.
— Nazionale Italiana (@Vivo_Azzurro) May 23, 2016