Italy have been drawn with Serbia and neighbours Slovenia in the qualifying phase for the 2012 UEFA European Championship finals in Poland and Ukraine.
The Azzurri were amongst the top seeds for today's draw in Warsaw but will have to play against the two fellow World Cup 2010 participants in a tricky Group C, which also contains Northern Ireland, Estonia and the Faroe Islands.
Fifty-one countries will battle for the 14 places available alongside the co-hosts for the final tournament, which runs from 8 June to 1 July in the summer of 2012.
The road to the finals kicks off in September through to October 2011 with the nine group winners and the runner-up with the best record against the top five in their pool qualifying directly.
The eight remaining runners-up contest two-legged play-off matches in November 2011 to decide the final four names.
Italy coach Marcello Lippi, whose Azzurri future was already uncertain with his contract due to expire after the World Cup in July, did not attend the draw ceremony in the Polish capital, adding to speculation in the Italian press that the 61-year-old World Cup winner will step down in the summer.
Lippi said he wanted to concentrate on squad selection and focus on defending the World Cup in South Africa.
UEFA European Championship 2012 - Qualifying Draw
Group A: Germany, Turkey, Austria, Belgium, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan.
Group B: Russia, Slovakia, Republic of Ireland, Macedonia, Armenia, Andorra.
Group C: Italy, Serbia, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Faroe Islands.
Group D: France, Romania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Albania, Luxembourg.
Group E: Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Moldova, San Marino.
Group F: Croatia, Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia, Malta.
Group G: England, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Wales, Montenegro.
Group H: Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Cyprus, Iceland.
Group I: Spain, Czech Republic, Scotland, Lithuania, Lichtenstein.