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Seen from within and outside: Italy’s Azzurris - Still a Force to Reckon With

Despite the overwhelming odds against Italians, things may still go on their favor.

Aside from losing Andrea Barzagli to injury, we would remember a game changer emerged on June 2011 after a number of personalities were arrested, and placed under official scrutiny, by Italian police for alleged involvement in incidents of match-fixing.

The 2006 World Cup winners' preparations for the Euro 2012 have been disrupted by the news that Domenico Criscito and Leonardo Bonucci are both being investigated for their alleged role in the match-fixing scandal.

But AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate is quite confident that the 2011 scandal, also known as the Scommessopoli probe, will not hamper Italy’s effort to have a successful European Championship. He is quite adamant that this recent chain of events will have no serious effect on the team performance.

"We are a team with a lot of desire to do well, and I believe that we will have a great Euro 2012," Abate exclaimed.

"You have to be in top condition at a tournament like this, and I think that we will be in perfect shape. We have isolated ourselves from all the gossip and rumours. We are only focused on playing football. That is the only way to reach our objectives."

Italy will start the tournament proper with the Group C match against Spain on June 10, before facing Croatia and Republic of Ireland.

Like Abate, Midfielder Claudio Marchisio says Italy has no reason to fear any country at Euro 2012, pointing specifically to first opponent, Spain.

"We are not afraid of anyone. We are Italy, a great country," declared Marchisio at a press conference on Monday.

The Juventus man acknowledges the negative feelings within the team, but reminds them that they should work “calmly” and “without fear.”

This confidence from key figures within is also echoed by someone from the other side. Retired Spanish footballer Ivan Helguera has warned his cohorts to avoid underestimating the Italians on their Sunday game.

"You must always respect them. In major tournaments, Italy are Italy. Spain cannot afford to rely on anything, though they are playing very well." Helguera told reporters on a Sunday charity game.

What do you think?