Friday, 11 July 2008

[U19's Euro] Azzurrini begin Czech adventure

Italy, with so many honours at senior and Under-21 level, have relatively few youth trophies although their most recent came in the 2003 UEFA European Under-19 Championships.

Having not qualified for the finals of the last three editions, Italy ousted France in dramatic style to earn their place in the finals in the Czech Republic this summer.

Francesco Rocca's side were a model of consistency throughout qualification. They won their qualifying and Elite round groups, and were victorious by two-goal margins in all six games.

That record began in Qualifying Group 13 on home soil. Montenegro were beaten 3-1 on the opening day, with Silvano Raggio Garibaldi and substitute Andrea Poli registering after a Nicolas Viola penalty got them going. Alessandro Morbidelli and Stefano Okaka Chuka, the latter a penalty, then scored to earn a 2-0 win against Malta before Viola, Andrea Mazzarani and Umberto Eusepi struck within the first 20 minutes to earn a 3-1 win against Croatia.

If anything, the Azzurrini were even more impressive in Elite round Group 6 in Switzerland, winning all of their games 2-0. Alberto Paloschi and Fernando Forestieri struck as they beat Sweden, and Paloschi and Okaka Chuka were on target against Switzerland. Those results left them facing a winner-takes-all encounter against France, but it ended in a predictable enough win, Mazzarani scoring both goals.

The final squad of 18 players was announced on Friday after a provisional 24 were called up for the training camp that took place in Rome for the past fortnight.

Rocca's side have been placed in Group B alongside the hosts Czech Republic, England and Greece for the tournament that takes place from July 14 to 26.

Italy will debut against the Greeks on Monday, before tackling the English on Thursday and will play the hosts in the final group game next Sunday. The semi-finals are scheduled for July 23, while the final will be played in Jablonec on July 26.

The tournament also works as the final qualification process for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt in 2009. A total of six European nations will compete next year with the top three teams in each of the two groups qualifying.

Italy squad
Goalkeepers: Vincenzo Fiorillo (Sampdoria), Carlo Pinsoglio (Juventus).
Defenders: Michelangelo Albertazzi (Milan), Matteo Bruscagin (Milan), Matteo Darmian (Milan), Giovanni Formiconi (Udinese), Matteao Gentili (Atalanta), Domenico Marchetti (Real Montecchio), Massimiliano Tagliani (Fiorentina).
Midfielders: Giacomo Bonaventura (Atalanta), Fernando Martin Forestieri (Siena), Andrea Mazzarani (Cisco Roma), Andrea Poli (Sampdoria), Silvano Raggio Garibaldi (Genoa).
Forwards: Umberto Eusepi (Genoa), Stefano Okaka Chuka (Modena), Alberto Paloschi (Milan), Fabio Zamblera (Newcastle United).

Tournament Schedule
Group A:
Monday July 14
Bulgaria 0-1 Hungary (1630, UK Time)
Germany 2-1 Spain (1830) *
Thursday July 17
Spain 0-1 Hungary (1700) *
Germany 3-0 Bulgaria (1930) *
Sunday July 20
Hungary 1-2 Germany (1900) *
Spain 4-0 Bulgaria (1900)

Group B:
Monday July 14
Czech Republic 2-0 England (1630) *
Greece 1-1 Italy (1830)
Thursday July 17
Czech Republic 0-0 Greece (1700)
England 0-0 Italy (1900)
Sunday July 20
England 3-0 Greece (1700)
Italy 4-3 Czech Republic (1700) *

Wednesday July 23
Italy 1-0 Hungary (1630) *
Germany 2-1 Czech Republic AET (1915) *

Saturday July 26
Germany 3-1 Italy (1800) *

* Live on Eurosport.

Source: UEFA

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