June 30, 2012 / 3:16 PM / 6 years ago

Italy penpix

KIEV (Reuters) - Penpix of Italy players set to feature in Sunday’s Euro 2012 final against Spain:

GOALKEEPER:

Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) Born: 28.01.78 Caps: 119. Could make a strong case for being goalkeeper of the tournament and his outstanding save from Marco Reus’s free kick in the semi-final against Germany would be a contender for save of the tournament. Along with his outstanding shot-stopping, he is a vocal organizer of the defense and a key dressing room personality.

DEFENDERS:

Federico Balzaretti (Palermo) Born: 06.12.81 Caps: 11, Goals: 0. Drafted in by Prandelli as extra defensive cover he was steady at left-back in the absence of Giorgio Chiellini and then when switched comfortably to right back to deputize for Ignazio Abate against Germany.

Andrea Barzagli (Juventus) Born: 08.05.81 Caps: 32 Goals: 0 Prandelli’s decision to recall the central defender, part of the 2006 and Euro 2008 squads, has been repaid by some outstanding performances at the heart of the Italian defense from a player who looks to have really come of age.

Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus) Born: 01.05.87 Caps: 19 Goals: 2. The injury to Giorgio Chiellini meant greater responsibility for the 25-year-old who has responded well with some superbly timed tackles throughout the tournament and he formed an excellent understanding with Barzagli.

Ignazio Abate (AC Milan) Born: 12.11.86 Caps: 4 Goals: 0. Has been a solid option at right-back, a position that has been a headache at times for Prandelli. Missed the semi-final against Germany but could be in contention against Spain.

Christian Maggio (Napoli) Born: 11.02.82 Caps: 19 Goals: 0. Was suspended for the semi-final against Germany and while Italy coped well without his astute contributions at right-back, he could well return for the final.

Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus) Born: 14.08.84 Caps: 54 Goals: 2. After missing the quarter-final win over England with injury, returned against Germany and delivered a characteristically solid performance. Can operate at left-back or the centre of defense but likely to be on the left against Spain.

MIDFIELDERS

Andrea Pirlo (Juventus) Born: 19.05.79 Caps: 88 Goals: 10. A brilliant goal from a free kick against Croatia and the delightful chipped penalty in the shootout against England have been the highlights of an outstanding tournament for the classy playmaker. But more important has been the way his prompting and passing has been at the centre of Italy’s impressive midfield.

Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma) Born: 24.07.83 Caps: 77 Goals: 10. As always he has been combative, tough-tackling and hard-working. De Rossi has shown his value on the ball as well in this tournament, forming the perfect foil for Pirlo.

Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina/AC Milan) Born: 18.01.85 Caps: 36, Goals: 1. Noted for his quality passing and intelligent movement, Montolivo has also shown that he can graft and cover ground well as he did to great effect against Germany when Italy’s midfield worked their socks off. Has grown in confidence throughout the tournament.

Claudio Marchisio (Juventus) Born: 19.01.86 Caps: 25 Goals: 1. Perhaps his most impressive display came at the start of the tournament when he was outstanding in the 1-1 draw with Spain.

Alessandro Diamanti (Bologna) Born: 2/5/1983 Caps: 4 Goals: 0. For a player who has had such little experience of big-time games even at club level, Diamanti when used has played with remarkable confidence, never looking over-awed by the occasion.

Thiago Motta (Paris St Germain) Born: 28.08.82 Caps: 12 Goals: 1. The Brazilian born central midfielder is likely to start on the bench but could well feature later in the game if Prandelli sees tired legs or wants to tighten things up with a more defense minded midfielder.

STRIKERS

Mario Balotelli (Manchester City) Born: 12.08.90 Caps 13: Goals: 4. Mocked and ridiculed for his sometimes erratic behavior and lack of discipline, Balotelli’s two goals, including his superb second, fired Italy into the final and have made him the new hero for Azzurri fans.

Antonio Cassano (AC Milan) Born: 12.07.82 Caps 34 Goals: 10. Prandelli has got the best out of another forward who has proven difficult to handle in the past. Having recovered from a serious heart scare, he has shown the deft touches and natural talent that many feared he would never showcase at the highest level.

Antonio Di Natale (Udinese) Born: 13/10/1977 Caps: 41 Goals: 11. Likely to start on the bench, Di Natale is a natural poacher with a great eye for goal but has sometimes appeared to lack self-belief at this level. Could yet make an impact though in the latter stages of the final. (Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Justin Palmer)

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