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After conceding just twice during their unbeaten qualifying campaign, a rejuvenated Italy head to Poland and Ukraine hoping for a second European crown to add to their 1968 success.

The Azzurri have endured a turbulent period since claiming a fourth FIFA World Cup in 2006, but Cesare Prandelli has brought stability and fresh impetus since his summer 2010 appointment. He took the reins after a forgettable defence of their global title in South Africa, finishing bottom of a group that also included Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand. Yet Italy, edged out on penalties by Spain in the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals, head to Poland and Ukraine hopeful of a second continental crown after striding through qualifying unbeaten, conceding just two goals in ten outings.

A near perfect campaign from the Azzurri, who cruised through Group C unbeaten and secured qualification with two games to spare.

Serbia had been expected to cause problems - and they did, but sadly only really off the field, as crowd trouble in Genoa led to Italy being awarded a 3-0 victory which undeniably played a key role in their smooth passage through the group.

However, the opening round win over Estonia in what was Cesare Prandelli’s first game in charge was also pivotal in building momentum, with Italy coming from behind to win 2-1 in Tallinn courtesy of goals from Antonio Cassano and Leonardo Bonucci.

Italy never really looked back thereafter. They won six of their next seven games (if one includes the abandoned Serbia clash), only dropping points against Northern Ireland in Belfast, before booking their place at Euro 2012 with a 1-0 home win over Slovenia courtesy of Giampaolo Pazzini’s late strike.

1960    Did not enter         1988    Semi-finalists
1964    Did not qualify       1992    Did not qualify
1968    Winners                1996    Group stage
1972    Did not qualify       2000    Runners-up
1976    Did not qualify       2004    Group stage
1980    Fourth place         2008   Quarter-finals
1984    Did not qualify       2012    Qualified as group winners

Italy featured in just one of the first five European Championships but their sole appearance in the finals during that spell, in 1968, resulted in what remains their sole tournament success.

Home advantage proved helpful but Italy only managed to scrape by the Soviet Union on a coin toss, while they needed a late leveller from Angelo Domenghini in the final against Yugoslavia to force a replay which they edged thanks to first-half goals from Luigi Riva and Pietro Anastasi.

Italy’s record in the event since has been poor but they should, of course, have claimed a second title in 2000 but were left crestfallen after a final showdown with then world champions France in which they conceded a 94th-minute equaliser to Sylvain Wiltord in normal time before then succumbing David Trezeguet’s golden goal.

Matches played
Overall: P125 W67 D40 L18 F195 A83
Final tournament: P27 W11 D12 L4 F27 A18
Qualifying: P98 W56 D28 L14 F168 A65