Antonio Conte's perfect tactics are turning Italy into the surprise package

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Italy are fast becoming one of Euro 2016's outside favourites to win the championship after two impressive displays, despite being described as the worst Italian team in history.

The Italians are yet to concede a goal in the competition after beating Belgium 3-0 and Sweden 1-0 in the group stages. Antonio Conte's well-drilled squad have thrived playing with three central defenders, a system Juventus fans will be familiar with from Conte's time in Turin, as opposition sides have struggled to come to terms with the Italian setup.

The 46-year-old has the perfect group of players to execute his game plan and, whereas they are not the most talented footballers, they are energetic, hardworking and versatile.


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Italy's three central defenders, which make up Conte's 3-5-2 system, are all of Juventus contingent and have won three league titles, including one after an unbeaten league campaign in 2012, playing this way.

Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva have thrived in the wing back roles adding defensive solidity when playing alongside the centre-halves and, just like against England in Rio two years ago, have constantly looked to get in behind opposition defenders.

The Italian midfield has proved to be the most surprising aspect of Italy's Euro 2016 success, with the hardworking Marco Parolo and Emanuele Giaccherini chasing down every loose ball and darting forward to support their side's attacks. The latter of the two was deemed not good enough for Sunderland but has looked a totally different player under Conte.

Roma holding midfielder Daniele De Rossi has screened the defensive line perfectly and has so far this summer seemed impossible to bypass, with both Belgium and Sweden struggling to play through the middle of the park due to impressive displays from the 32-year-old.

Energy and tireless running is the theme of Conte's Italian squad and his forwards are no exception. Being one of the few teams in the tournament to play with two up front, Graziano Pelle and Eder have proved to be the perfect partnership.

Pelle's height and aerial ability alongside Eder's pace have made a deadly combination as neither Belgium or Sweden were able to stifle the duo. Both have found the net in a competition were forwards have struggled to grab the headlines.

Italy's player of the tournament so far has been Juventus' Leonardo Bonucci. The centre-back has been influential at both ends of the pitch due to his characteristic long range passing. The 29-year-old can pass the ball as well as defend and is one of Europe's best ball playing defenders.

It is a weapon Italy continuously look to use, their first goal of Euro 2016 came after Bonucci put Giaccherini through with a 50-yard pass. Bonucci's skill means the Azzurri's midfield do not put their defence in danger by picking risky long-range passes themselves.

Conte is set to rest some of his key men in their final group game to keep them fresh but they will certainly be a side many of the pre-tournament favourites will want to avoid throughout the knockout stages.

Euro 2016
Italy Football

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