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Will Aquilani make Italy’s Euro 2016

Italy are one of Europe’s great footballing nations and Antonio Conte will lead his troops into battle at this summer’s European Championship in France.

Conte, who has signed a deal to take over at Chelsea after the tournament, has a tough decision to make on who deserves a place in Italy’s 23-man squad and Alberto Aquilani is one of those players currently on the cusp of an inclusion.

The Sporting Lisbon midfielder is one of the best defensive midfielders in the Portuguese league but he is often overlooked due to the fact that he’s not competing in one of Europe’s elite divisions. Having said that, Aquilani has earned 38 caps for the Italian side and Conte will be aware of his skillset and how the 31-year-old could help Italy reach the latter stages of the competition.

Right now, Italy are priced at 16/1 with Coral to go on and win the tournament. To put their odds into perspective, Roy Hodgson’s men, who haven’t won a major competition since lifting the World Cup in 1966, are priced at 9/1 and many punters are already placing wagers on England betting markets despite their poor recent record at major tournaments.

Italian football isn’t exactly flourishing new stars out of the woodwork right now and it might be wise of Conte to look towards old campaigners, such as Aquilani. The former Liverpool man has enjoyed one of his best seasons at Sporting this year and he still believes that he has a huge role to play in the national set-up, providing Conte is willing to select him in the 23-man squad.

Whether Aquilani makes the squad or not, Italy will be looking to advance past the group stages – something both they and England failed to do at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Right now, the Italians are valued at 3/1 to crash out at the first hurdle whilst many will be tempted by the England betting odds of 6/1 to suffer elimination in the group stages as well.

If truth be told, there’s no excuse for Italy to struggle in the opening round. While they face tough fixtures against both Belgium and Sweden, they should ease past the Republic of Ireland. In fact, with the likes of Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Insigne in the squad, it’ll be like David vs Goliath and Italy will expect to secure all three points against Martin O’Neill’s side.

Aquilani will be desperate to appear for his nation this summer and if it came down to his passion and enthusiasm, the Sporting star would be one of the first names on Conte’s team sheet. As it is, his position remains unclear but whatever happens, he’ll be cheering Italy on – whether that’s on the field or from the comfort of his own home!