Former Italy Coach Dino Zoff believes the Azzurri “are among the top four favourites” at Euro 2012.
Zoff was on the bench when the Nazionale came agonisingly close to the 2000 European Championship title, losing to France on a Golden Goal in extra time.
“Italy are much more than outsiders, as I’d put them among the top four favourites,” he told Radio Manà Manà.
“Everyone seems to think Spain or Germany are the favourites, but I say we’re in there too.”
Cesare Prandelli’s side has lost its last three friendlies leading up to the tournament without scoring a goal, so look to be changing to a 3-5-2 system.
“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.
“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,” continued Zoff.
“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.”
Italy are in Group C with Spain, Croatia and the Republic of Ireland.
“The Azzurri have a balanced group, but they can get through to the next round.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's World Cup tipster competition - £10,000 to be won!