ROME, June 5 (Reuters) - The Italy squad for the Euro 2012 finals comprises the following 23 players:
Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) Born: 28.01.78 Caps: 114. Arguably still one of the best in the world, despite advancing years, the 2006 World Cup winner is a man never afraid to speak his mind, now returning to his commanding best having won the scudetto after a couple of difficult seasons with Juventus.
Morgan De Sanctis (Napoli) Born: 26.03.77 Caps: 5. In the squad at Euro 2008 and the last World Cup but remains in Buffon’s shadow, unable to break into the team Will probably be too old to take over when his rival quits. Clocked up 99 consecutive appearances for Napoli, a run which ended this season.
Salvatore Sirigu (Paris St Germain) Born: 12.01.87 Caps: 2. Former Palermo keeper, given a chance by Walter Zenga, has adapted well since moving to big-money Paris St Germain. Was on 28-man shortlist for 2010 World Cup, but failed to make the cut.
Ignazio Abate (AC Milan) Born: 12.11.86 Caps: 2 Goals: 0. Raised at AC Milan where he has returned after a number of spells out on loan. Originally a midfielder, came into his own at right back under leadership of Massimiliano Allegri, regularly joins attacks with runs down flank.
Federico Balzaretti (Palermo) Born: 06.12.81 Caps: 8 Goals: 1. Former Under-21 international, ‘Balzac’ was drafted in by current coach Cesare Prandelli. Part of the team that helped Juventus out of Serie B, he has been at Palermo since 2008.
Andrea Barzagli (Juventus) Born: 08.05.81 Caps: 29 Goals: 0. Was in Italy squads for 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008, then left out for three years, before being recalled by Prandelli.
Christian Maggio (Napoli) Born: 11.02.82 Caps: 16 Goals: 0. Can play in defence or midfield, and his speedy runs offer Italy an alternative attacking strategy if needed. Has good eye for goal.
Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) Born: 14.08.84 Caps: 50 Goals: 2. Fabio Cannavaro’s replacement in central defence, is much admired for his never-say-die attitude and goal threat from corners. Ever-present in qualifiers but could end up playing left back after Domenico Criscito was dropped from squad amid match-fixing probe.
Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus) Born: 01.05.87 Caps: 14 Goals: 2. Was Chiellini’s Juve partner in defence, but fell out of favour in last few months. An excellent last-gasp tackler and rare example of a young Italian earning playing time in Serie A and national squad. Was included despite match-fixing allegations which is denies.
Angelo Ogbonna (Torino) Born: 23.05.88 Caps: 3 Goals: 0. Born in Italy of Nigerian parents, Ogbonna impressed in Serie B to win call-ups for friendlies and was recently promoted with Torino. Survived a horrific car crash in 2008.
Thiago Motta (Paris St Germain) Born: 28.08.82 Caps: 8 Goals: 1. The Brazilian-born player represented the South Americans at the Gold Cup in 2003, but as they fielded an Under-23 team he was allowed by FIFA to change allegiance to Italy and made his debut in 2011.
Antonio Nocerino (AC Milan) Born: 09.04.85 Caps: 11 Goals: 0. Arguably one of the most-improved Serie A players after joining AC Milan from Palermo, featured regularly for Italy since recall in March 2011 after an absence of 2-1/2 years.
Andrea Pirlo (Juventus) Born: 19.05.79 Caps: 83 Goals 9. Deep-lying playmaker, has enjoyed a new lease of life since move to Juventus after 10 seasons with AC Milan. Inspired Italy’s 2006 World Cup win but missed two of their three games in South Africa through injury.
Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma) Born: 24.07.83 Caps: 72 Goals: 10. One of the world’s most dynamic midfielders, can tackle, shoot and pass well. One of the 2006 World Cup winners, is squad’s leading scorer at international level and much less volatile nowadays.
Claudio Marchisio (Juventus) Born: 19.01.86 Caps: 20 Goals: 1. Picked for problem left-side berth in midfield, adaptable with a keen eye for goal and a delightful touch, played a key role in Juventus’s impressive revival this season.
Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina/AC Milan) Born: 18.01.85 Caps: 33 Goals: 1.
Elegant, comfortable on the ball and a good passer, often seen as Pirlo’s successor, but shares same problem in not scoring enough goals. A regular under Prandelli despite Fiorentina’s poor form and is now heading for AC Milan.
Emanuele Giaccherini(Juventus) Born:5/5/1985 Caps:0 Goals:0
A surprise hit in Juve’s title charge this season, he can play out wide or as an attacking midfielder. Just scraped into the squad.
Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna) Born: 2/5/1983 Caps: 1 Goals:0
Prandelli is a fan of the composed midfielder despite him having played for a string of mid to lower table teams including West Ham United in England.
Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) Born: 12.08.90 Caps: 8 Goals 1. Maverick, hugely gifted striker, but question remains as to whether his talents, or unpredictable behaviour, will prevail. Already warned and overlooked by Prandelli for disciplinary reasons.
Antonio Cassano (AC Milan) Born: 12.07.82 Caps: 29 Goals: 9. Talented but volatile striker who has became a regular under Prandelli, having been overlooked by Marcello Lippi. Underwent heart surgery in November and only just recovered in time for the Euros.
Sebastian Giovinco (Parma) Born: 26.01.87 Caps: 8 Goals: 0. Diminutive attacking midfielder, used mainly as a substitute in qualifiers. Struggled during four seasons with Juventus, but came to life after joining Parma two years ago.
Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) Born: 13/10/1977 Caps: 37 Goals: 10
Almost perennial Serie A top scorer thought his Italy career was over after a disappointing World Cup 2010 but a lack of quality up front with Alessandro Del Piero too old and Francesco Totti retired from international football, as well as Giuseppe Rossi’s serious injury, have opened the door.
Fabio Borini (AS Roma) Born:29/3/1991 Caps: 1 Goals: 0
The slight surprise in the squad having only emerged in Italy this season having spent time in the English leagues. Skilful and with an eye for goal, Borini could feature more than many anticipate. (Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Mark Meadows)