Italy’s national team, the defending champions, received a warm welcome from hundreds of fans upon their arrival in Germany for Euro 2024. They aim to overcome past World Cup disappointments and various controversies.

Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella, who missed recent tune-up games due to a muscle injury, is a concern for the team, but coach Luciano Spalletti remains optimistic about his recovery. Italy will face Albania, Spain, and Croatia in Group B, with their first match against Albania on Saturday.

The squad has been affected by injuries to key players Francesco Acerbi, Giorgio Scalvini, and Domenico Berardi, and the suspension of Sandro Tonali due to illegal sports betting. This scandal is one of several issues Italy is dealing with as they prepare for the tournament, alongside the high-profile departure of former coach Roberto Mancini and racism accusations against Acerbi.

Despite these challenges, Italy’s head of delegation, Gianluigi Buffon, believes the team can surprise everyone and unite the nation with strong performances. Spalletti and Buffon hope that the team’s underdog status will motivate them to replicate their past successes and bring joy to their supporters.