Group C - 13 June 2008
Italy v Romania
Letzigrund - Zurich
Romania odds point Italy's way
Italy enter their second Group C fixture against Romania aiming to revive their UEFA EURO 2008 ambitions after making the worst possible start.
The 3-0 defeat the world champions suffered against the Netherlands was their heaviest in 25 years and their worst ever in a UEFA European Championship finals. Back in 1983 the reigning world champions had gone down 3-0 to Sweden as they failed to qualify for the 1984 UEFA European Championship; this time they have made it to Austria and Switzerland at least, but unless they respond in the right manner against Romania, they may not be around for long.
While Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wesley Sneijder and Giovanni van Bronckhorst were putting the Azzurri to the sword in Berne on Monday, Romania claimed a creditable point from their first fixture against France in Zurich, which finished in a 0-0 draw.
Romania will now look to build on that positive opening against the last team to better them on the ιlite European stage Italy having prevailed 2-0 when these teams met at UEFA EURO 2000.
Italy won that quarter-final between the teams 2-0 in Brussels, Francesco Totti and Filippo Inzaghi scoring against a Romania side who lost captain Gheorghe Hagi to a red card on his 125th and final appearance for his country. It was the last game Romania had played at a major competition prior to UEFA EURO 2008.
The teams for that game in Brussels on 24 June 2000 were:
Italy: Francesco Toldo, Mark Iuliano, Alessandro Nesta, Fabio Cannavaro, Paolo Maldini, Stefano Fiore, Antonio Conte, Demetrio Albertini, Gianluca Zambrotta, Francesco Totti, Filippo Inzaghi.
Romania: Bogdan Stelea, Liviu Ciobotariu, Iulian Filipescu, Constantin Gβlcă, Adrian Mutu, Dorinel Munteanu, Viorel Moldovan, Gheorghe Hagi, Cristian Chivu, Florentin Petre, Miodrag Belodedici.
Italy's Alessandro Del Piero featured as a substitute.
Italy have won the sides' last three encounters since UEFA EURO 2000, starting with home and away successes in 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying when Inzaghi inflicted further punishment on the Romania defence.
After scoring the opener in a 3-0 victory in Milan in October 2000 when Marco Delvecchio and Totti also found the net Inzaghi got both goals in Italy's 2-0 win in the return in Bucharest in March 2001.
Italy also prevailed 1-0 through a goal from substitute Marco Di Vaio when the teams met in a friendly in Ancona on 16 November 2003.
The starting lineups that day were:
Italy: Francesco Toldo, Christian Panucci, Fabio Cannavaro, Matteo Ferrari, Massimo Oddo, Simone Perrotta, Damiano Tommasi, Franceso Totti, Gianluca Zambrotta, Antonio Cassano, Fabio Bazzani.
Romania: Bogdan Lobonţ, Flavius Stoican, Adrian Iencsi, Mirel Radoi, Razvan Raţ, Florentin Dumitru, Daniel Pancu, Dorinel Munteanu, Nicolae Mitea, Florin Bratu, Adrian Mutu.
Among the substitutes that day were Italy's Massimo Ambrosini and Andrea Pirlo and Romania's Nicolae Dică and Ciprian Marica.
Romania's most recent win against Italy came in a March 1989 friendly in Sibiu. Ioan Sabău struck the only goal of a game in which Italy coach Donadoni played.
Their only other victory against the Azzurri was in qualifying for the 1984 UEFA European Championship where Laszlo Bφlφni's effort earned a 1-0 home win which helped Romania qualify for the finals.
If Romania coach Victor Piţurcă would prefer not to dwell on past matches between the nations, he might also choose to forget the last time he faced Italy counterpart Roberto Donadoni on the football pitch, when his FC Steaua Bucureşti side were swept aside by Donadoni's AC Milan in a 4-0 defeat in the 1989 European Champion Clubs' Cup final.
Piţurcă was also on the losing side with Steaua against two other Italian clubs: AS Roma in the 1984/85 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup first round and Genoa CFC in the 1991/92 UEFA Cup third round.
For Donadoni's part, he may find encouragement in the past by recalling Italy's 1994 World Cup campaign, in which he played. Then as now, the Azzurri lost their first game 1-0 against the Republic of Ireland yet they bounced back to reach the final.
Romania captain Cristian Chivu and vice-captain Adrian Mutu both play for Italian clubs in FC Internazionale Milano and ACF Fiorentina respectively. Chivu spent three and a half years with AS Roma prior to joining Inter in July 2007. His team-mates at Inter include Italian international defender Marco Materazzi, while at Roma he played with Alberto Aquilani, Daniele De Rossi, Christian Panucci and Simone Perrotta.
Mutu has worn the colours of five different Italian clubs: Inter, Hellas-Verona FC, Parma FC, Juventus and Fiorentina. He partnered Italy striker Luca Toni in the Fiorentina attack in 2006/07.
Mutu has played with plenty of Italian internationals during his time in Serie A: Gianluigi Buffon, Mauro Camoranesi, Giorgio Chiellini, Del Piero, Gianluca Zambrotta (with Juventus); Camoranesi, (with Verona), Panucci (with Inter).
Midfielder Paul Codrea is the third Romanian international playing in Italy at AC Siena. He has also played for Genoa, US Cittΰ di Palermo and Torino FC.
Defender Cosmin Contra spent the 2001/02 season with Milan while goalkeeper Bogdan Lobonţ had a spell with Fiorentina in 2006.
Italy have a positive recent memory of the Letzigrund Stadion in Zurich after defeating fellow UEFA EURO 2008 finalists Portugal 3-1 there on 6 February this year.
Italy's best performance in the UEFA European Championship came in 1968 when they beat Yugoslavia to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy. They were runners-up in 2000 and semi-finalists in 1988 with a team featuring Donadoni.
Italy have twice failed to finish in the top two of their group in five previous EURO final tournament appearances.
Romania's best performance in three previous UEFA European Championship finals appearances was in 2000 when they reached the quarter-finals before losing to Italy.
This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth that features a final tournament with a group phase.
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