Italy are a European football superpower. In a country where football is more like a religion than a sport, every success of the Azzurri is greeted with a huge outpouring of ecstasy and every defeat leaves a nation in grief.
The Italian national side has always been built around the principle of a sound defence being the most important part of the team. This approach has certainly had its critics but their record in international competition shows they must be doing something right, with four World Cups and one European Championship to their name.
The Azzurri's latest triumph in the 2006 World Cup in Germany was possibly their most dramatic. Played out against a backdrop of match-fixing scandals involving four of the country's biggest clubs, Italian fans were angry and disillusioned about the state of their national game.
International football was the only stage on which to restore some pride and when Fabio Cannavaro lifted the trophy in Berlin, it was met with a collective sigh of relief throughout Italy. Their fans again had something to shout about, their fourth World Cup, putting them just one behind Brazil's five.
If the 2006 triumph was all about determination, Italy's win in 1982 was all about style and in particular that shown by one man, Paolo Rossi. The Juventus striker inspired his side throughout the tournament, scoring the winner in the dramatic 3-2 win over Brazil in the semi-finals and ending as the top-scorer with six goals in the tournament.
Italy's other two World Cups came back-to-back in the pre-war years. Having not entered the first tournament in Uruguay in 1930, the Italians made up for lost time by winning the next two. They beat Czechoslovakia in Rome in 1934 and Hungary in Paris four years later. Their record in the European Championships pales in comparison, with a win against Yugoslavia in 1968 giving them their only trophy.