- FIFA World Ranking - 12th
- Euro 2012 - Runners-up
- FIFA World Cup 2014 - 3rd in Group D
- Players to watch - Alessio Florenzi, Graziano Pelle, Antonio Candreva
Italy have won the FIFA World Cup four times, so they have plenty of ground to make up on the continental stage.
Apart from finishing fourth in 1980 and 1988, they were finalists in 2000, quarter finalists in 2008 and again finalists four years ago in Poland and Ukraine. That was under the management of Claudio Prandelli, who Conte succeeded in 2014.
The incoming Chelsea boss' work as coach has been scrutinised relentlessly in a nation that is passionate about its football. But at least he can point to a comparatively smooth route through qualifying Group H. Italy finished four points ahead of Croatia and five points clear of third-placed Norway. Italy was one of three teams (along with Austria and England) to complete their ten-match schedule undefeated.
A typically parsimonious Italian defence conceded just seven goals, although Conte would have preferred his forwards to have scored more than the measly 16 goals they notched. Graziano Pelle vindicated the confidence shown in him by the coach, scoring three times.
Although Pelle had starred for Italy at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2005 and then in the Under-21 European Championships two years later, it was not until Conte took over as national coach that anyone showed any faith in what Pelle might achieve at senior level.
Elsewhere, Italy will bring the traditional mixture of experience and style to France, exemplified in captain and goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, who has been at the forefront of the Italians' European quests for glory for 17 years. In front of him in defence are Juventus rocks Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci with Roma's Daniele De Rossi contributing his metronomic efforts in midfield.
The international retirement of Andrea Pirlo after Italy's disastrous FIFA World Cup campaign in Brazil in 2014 was a blow to the team's creativity - one that has not been helped by injuries to key players Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio. Therefore, much responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Antonio Candreva and Marco Parolo to pull the strings for the Azzurri.
Italy find themselves in the "group of death" with Belgium, Sweden and Republic of Ireland all providing quality opposition. However, I think the 2006 World Champions will edge out Belgium to win the group, and consequently knock out Croatia with a professional performance. This would likely result in a blockbuster quarter-final showdown with Germany, who Italy have enjoyed meeting in major tournaments recently, dumping out Die Mannschaft in the semi-finals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2012. This time round, though, I can see that changing and Italian hearts being broken in France.
Prediction - Quarter Finals