If the Italian national anthem doesn’t make you smile, you’ve got no soul.
The Azzurri have slipped quietly under the radar into the Tournament in France and bookies have had Antonio Conti’s side at out at a bumper 16/1 to lift the trophy.
That’s all but writing off any chances that the ageing squad has. But age also means experience and with the likes of 38-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, 30-year-old Southampton striker Graziano Pelle and 31-year-old defender Girgio Chiellini, the Italian dressing room will display few nerves.
And with the old Roma warhorse Daniele De Rossi, at 32, certain to grab the midfield by the scruff of the net and stamp his authority on games, the Italians will, as always, be hard to beat.
De Rossi has wracked up over 100 caps in a ten year international career and was a beaten finalist four years ago in Poland and Ukraine. He’s the godfather of the team, so expect some ‘Gomorrah’ style motivational talks and a surprise hit on the cocky young Belgians in the Group to play their ‘get out of jail’ card.
You’d also fancy them to beat Sweden and the Irish -even if it is by netting once then employing the catenaccio. For while it doesn’t appear there are a lot of goals in the side, Conti has plenty of attacking options with Pelle, Éder, Stephan El Shaarawy, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Zaza all in the squad.
Sixteen goals in ten games during qualification against sides like Azerbijan, Malta and Bulgaria didn’t inspire a lot of confidence in the Azzurri as a striking unit – but they were unbeaten to top the group and only conceded seven.
Experience counts. Believe me. That’s why your girlfriend still flutters admiring glances and goes weak at the knees when ‘silver fox’ George Clooney is on the TV screen.
That’s why you’d be foolish to dismiss the Italian chances of success at Euro 2016.