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Buffon, De Rossi and Pirlo already on the plane, Di Natale and Pazzini fighting for a ticket - The 23 players Italy may be taking to Euro 2012 breaks down the squads the leading contenders for next year's tournament are likely to take to Poland and Ukraine. In this feature, we look at Cesare Prandelli's side.

Although Euro 2012 is still three months away, and the main focus currently lies on the various domestic and European competitions, the key preparations for Poland-Ukraine are well underway.

Qualified nations only have two or three remaining friendlies before the tournament kicks off on June 8 in Warsaw, and each coach will already know the majority of the squad he wishes to take. thus breaks down how Euro 2012's top nations - England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain - are likely to go about selecting their 23-player rosters.

We move through each positional department - goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and attackers - and divide the candidates into 'Definites', 'Probables' and 'Possibles'. Definites are those who are pillars of the team, indispensable and irreplaceable stars who will only miss out on the finals in the most extraordinary of circumstances such as serious injury. For example, Xavi of Spain or Gianluigi Buffon of Italy. Probables are those who are likely to go, but are not so indispensable that they are immune to being cut. Possibles are all the players who are fighting for the last places in the squad that are yet to be determined. Underneath these listed candidates, we then explain in detail the reason for our choices.

Since November, when we first presented a list of players who could make it to the European Championship, the situation of a number of players has changed. Below is a full rundown of how Italy's 23 places could be taken now.

Gianluigi Buffon
Morgan De Sanctis
Federico Marchetti
Antonio Mirante
Salvatore Sirigu
Paris Saint-Germain
Emiliano Viviano

Gianluigi Buffon remains the ultimate untouchable in the Italy squad. A World Cup winner six years ago, the 34-year-old still has arguably another half dozen left in him at the top level.

His form at club level has been near flawless in 2011-12, and this has carried across to his performances for the national team too. Having now surpassed Dino Zoff as the country's most capped goalkeeper, his next target will be to match his storied predecessor as a trophy winning captain.

He remains as clear a first choice as there is in the international game thanks not only to his own ability, but also the lack of clarity as to who the next in line is.

Morgan De Sanctis has been a regular in Cesare Prandelli's squads, and his elevation to the Champions League level with Napoli has gone well thus far, meaning he remains a probable to travel this summer.

The third spot seems to be edging ever closer to Palermo's Emiliano Viviano, who has performed admirably between the sticks for the Sicilians since recovering from the knee injury he picked up last summer when with Inter.

However, Viviano needs to have a good run-in if he is to stave off Salvatore Sirigu, who took advantage of the Tuscan's misfortune to establish himself in the squad until recently. The Paris Saint-Germain shot-stopper will be hoping that his move to France does not put him at a disadvantage with Prandelli.

Andrea Barzagli Juventus
Giorgio Chiellini
Christian Maggio Napoli
Domenico Criscito Zenit St Petersburg
Ignazio Abate
Davide Astori Cagliari
Federico Balzaretti Palermo
Leonardo Bonucci Juventus
Mattia Cassani Fiorentina
Lorenzo De Silvestri Fiorentina
Andrea Dossena Napoli
Alessandro Gamberini Fiorentina
Angelo Ogbonna Torino
Andrea Ranocchia Inter

Giorgio Chiellini will surely be joined on the plane by Andrea Barzagli, who at this point appears the only certainty to start at center back. The former Livorno man's spell as a left back for Juventus this season has seen him also used there by the national coach, and it may well be on the flank that he is favored.

Much still depends, though, on Prandelli's plans for the rest of the defense. Leonardo Bonucci is seemingly not trusted as he was once, with Angelo Ogbonna receiving game time ahead of him recently. Then there are the left back options to consider too. Domenico Criscito is the man holding the cards, but he may well be forced to step down if Chiellini moves wide, while Federico Balzaretti remains the most likely backup solution despite a drop in form this term.

Out on the right, Christian Maggio is a certainty, injury permitting, with his run at Champions League level having only strengthened his claims. Add to that the indifferent form of his main challenger, Ignazio Abate, and the lousy run endured by Fiorentina pair Mattia Cassani and Lorenzo De Sulvestri, and the Napoli man is a stick on almost by default.

Perhaps worryingly for Prandelli, the number of possibles is dwindling rather than increasing. Hugo Campagnaro remained an outside possibility for a cap until he decided to answer the call of homeland Argentina.

Elsewhere, names such as Aleandro Rosi and Gianluca Zambrotta would have hoped to draw the national coach's attention, but the Roma man has failed to kick on as planned, while the World Cup winner has seen a decrease in status at Milan.

These circumstances, along with Chiellini's flexibility, have helped to edge the likes of Bonucci and Cagliari's Davide Astori and even Inter's struggling Andrea Ranocchia back into contention.

Daniele De Rossi
Andrea Pirlo
Claudio Marchisio Juventus
Riccardo Montolivo Fiorentina
Thiago Motta Paris Saint-Germain
Antonio Nocerino Milan
Alberto Aquilani Milan
Luca Cigarini
Andrea Cossu Cagliari
Gaetano D'Agostino Siena
Emanuele Giaccherini Juventus
Cristian Ledesma Lazio
Stefano Mauri Lazio
Marco Parolo Cesena
Andrea Poli Inter
Ezequiel Schelotto Atalanta

Wednesday's performance - or non-performance - against the USA has brought with it new questions about the validity of Prandelli's favored 4-3-1-2 formation both in terms of the players he has at his disposal and in the international game generally.

While the second point could be discussed at some length with no resolution, the worry over Italy's striking options could well bring about a restructured Azzurri starting lineup between now and the Euro 2012 final.

The Nazionale certainly have a solid stock across midfield should the coach plump for a 4-2-3-1 or pseudo 4-3-3 with attacking wingers, but what there isn't a lot of is variety.

It has been exactly this issue which has seen trials for both Thiago Motta and, most notably and regularly, Riccardo Montolivo, fail miserably. It is also this lack of diversity which means there may well be a number of selection headaches for Prandelli without any of them being particularly helpful quandaries.

Andrea Pirlo is, naturally, a definite, with Daniele De Rossi likely to go to the finals no matter what his quarrels with club boss Luis Enrique. But beyond that, there is much to be decided. Claudio Marchisio has become a regular starter, but his early-season sheen has worn off for Juventus of late, and his part in the only goal in Genoa on Wednesday will not have been overlooked.

That runs parallel with Antonio Nocerino's fantastic form for Milan in the same left-sided position to leave two going into one. However, Alberto Aquilani's recent injury concerns mean that he will most likely be the one to come back and restate his claim before Prandelli seriously considers the prospect of leaving either Marchisio or Nocerino behind.

While there are plenty of talented alternatives, both left-footed and right that have been overlooked until now, Thiago Motta and Montolivo remain favorites of the commissario tecnico and would have to hit a drastic dip in form to jeopardize their positions in the squad.

Stefano Mauri and Ezequiel Schelotto could be considered wildcards should the coach decide more width is necessary among his midfield ranks, while Emanuele Giaccherini's versatility suggests he may yet receive a late call.

Mario Balotelli
Manchester City
Sebastian Giovinco
Fabio Borini
Marco Borriello Juventus
Antonio Cassano Milan
Antonio Di Natale Udinese
Stephan El Shaarawy Milan
Alberto Gilardino Genoa
Alessandro Matri Juventus
Pablo Daniel Osvaldo Roma
Giampaolo Pazzini Inter
Simone Pepe Juventus
Fabio Quagliarella Juventus
Giuseppe Rossi

The only thing that has changed about the Azzurri's outlook in the forwards in the past four months is that the turnaround period is now shorter, with Prandelli still stuck for ideas when it comes to his best mix up front.

Mario Balotelli continues to fascinate and infuriate in equal measure, while there is still no sign of returns for either Giuseppe Rossi or Antonio Cassano. And despite a constant goal supply from Antonio Di Natale for Udinese, his recall to the national side is seemingly as far away as ever.

Wednesday in Genoa brought no good news for Prandelli either, as much as he claimed it gave him positives to draw on. Alessandro Matri remains an unconvincing novice, while Sebastian Giovinco's endeavor will probably see him on the plane, although one can't help but wonder whether he'd be having to bust more of a gut right now if Cassano was fit.

In terms of target men, the coach has searched far and wide, particularly since Rossi's injury, but remains at a loss for answers. Pablo Osvaldo appeared well placed to force his name into the reckoning before his petulance landed him in trouble just after returning from a lengthy injury spell. Giampaolo Pazzini, meanwhile, continues to be something of an international enigma, and has also not been helped
by his abysmal run at club level.

Of the other contenders, Fabio Borini got a well-earned call up this week, and responded with a positive showing when introduced as a second-half substitute. Alberto Gilardino has promised to use his switch to Genoa to give Prandelli - his former club boss, no less - food for thought, but Marco Borriello will need to win over the Juventus fans before he has any plans to win an Italy recall.

Simone Pepe hasn't been on the scene of late, but his great work ethic could be deemed useful should a change of shape be considered, while Stephan El Shaarawy's rise to prominence at Milan may need to accelerate still further in order to force his way into Prandelli's late plans.

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