Coach profile: Cesare Prandelli
Italian football has long had a chip on its shoulder, blaming supposedly sinister outside forces whenever the national team fails in a major tournament.
Such histrionics are unlikely, however, under coach Cesare Prandelli who, in addition to rebuilding the team in his two years' in charge, has imposed a strict code of ethics.
Known for his slicked-back hair and purple puffer jacket, the 53-year-old coach has adopted a zero tolerance policy to violent and unethical behaviour.
Prandelli praised the player's "courage and extraordinary inner strength."
At the same time Prandelli has nurtured the talents of 'difficult' players such as Antonio Cassano.
Prandelli has had a difficult task in his first two years, having had to rebuild from the ashes of a disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign, but managed to steer the Italians unbeaten through a tricky qualifying group also featuring Serbia and Slovenia.
He had no hesitation in calling up 'oriundi', foreign-born players whose selection is always a hot potato, naming Brazilian-born pair Thiago Motta and Amauri as well as Argentine-born Cristian Ledesma.
Having taken over in 2005, he guided the relegation strugglers to fourth and a place in the Champions League qualifying round, only for them to be docked 15 points in the Calciopoli match-fixing scandal.
Undeterred, he took them to the Champions League twice in a row, a controversial away goals defeat to Bayern Munich denying them a quarter-final place in 2009-10.
By the time he replaced Lippi, he was the longest-serving coach Fiorentina had ever had.