Euro 2012: Predicting the Starting Lineup for Italy in Group Play

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Euro 2012: Predicting the Starting Lineup for Italy in Group Play
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

If you're a fan of Italian football, the weeks following the end of the Serie A season have been headline-making for all the wrong reasons.  

Domenico Criscito, Italy's likely starter at left-back was left off Cesare Prandelli's final 23-man roster after being implicated in the Scommessopoli match-fixing scandal. Other members of the team as well as some big names in the sport have either been arrested, charged or linked to the scandal.

Hours before the Italians were to play the first of their two scheduled pre-Euro friendlies in Parma, a 5.1 earthquake rocked the Emilia-Romagna region. The game against Luxembourg was understandably cancelled. In their only warmup match, the Italians committed a number of defensive miscues and were soundly beaten by Russia, 3-0.

An unorthodox lead-in to a major international tournament to say the least, but not one the Italians aren't unfamiliar with. In 2006, the cloud of Calciopoli hung over the Italian camp leading into the World Cup in Germany. The controversy united the team as they marched to a fourth world title.  

Italy will open Group C play against Spain, the defending European and world champions. Qualification from the group is no guarantee, given the additional challenges presented by Croatia and Ireland.  

Despite all the distractions, the focus now returns to who will be in Italy's starting XI beginning on Sunday for this edition of the European championships. Not an easy thing to predict, given the positional dilemmas and opponents Prandelli's 23 will face, but it's worth a shot.

Here's my thoughts on who's in and who's out of Italy's starting XI for Euro 2012.

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