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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Youthful Italians Stay Confident

MILAN, Italy -- Despite shaky form in qualification, the rejection of big-name strikers and a tough first round, Italy is confident of gaining the final. After all, they made it to the 1994 World Cup when everyone had written them off.


Arrigo Sacchi, the Italian coach, produced a traditionally theatrical announcement when he left out World Cup star Roberto Baggio and leading Serie A scorers Giuseppe Signori and Igor Protti from the Italian squad.


Sacchi explained he was betting on motivated, younger players such as Enrico Chiesa and Alessandro Del Piero. Chiesa, 25, beat Baggio and Signori for a place on the forward line by scoring 22 goals in his first season with Sampdoria.


An absolute beginner with the Italian team, Chiesa can become the heir of past Italian strikers Paolo Rossi and Salvatore "Toto" Schillaci, who exploded to international fame by scoring decisive goals on their first appearances for Italy. Del Piero, a 21-year-old who took over Baggio's place at Juventus, is considered one of the most talented Italian players.


A three-time world champion -- its latest title won in Spain in 1982 -- Italy has won the European title once, beating Yugoslavia in Rome in 1968.


"We have the ambition to end the streak of Italy's disappointing results in the European Championship," Sacchi said. "But the competition is terrible, as tough as in the World Cup.