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Hundreds greet holders Italy as they arrive in Germany for Euro 2024

Fans queue at the entrance to the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa
Fans queue at the entrance to the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa

Defending champions Italy were welcomed by hundreds of fans upon their arrival in Germany for Euro 2024 where they aim to shake off World Cup traumas and various affairs.

Inter Milan midfield star Nicolo Barella was one of the first players to get off the plane after the squad landed at Dortmund airport and made their way to the base camp in Iserlohn on Monday night.

Barella missed the two tune-up games against Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina due to a muscle injury and is a concern ahead of the Euros.

But ahead of the departure to Germany, coach Luciano Spalletti said: "We're confident that everything is under control with him."

Italy open the Euros against Albania on Saturday before facing Spain and Croatia in difficult Group B.

Italy lost potential starters Francesco Acerbi, Giorgio Scalvini and Domenico Berardi to injury before the tournament, while Sandro Tonali is suspended due to illegal sports betting.

The situation involving Tonali is just one of the scandals Italy will have in the background as they try to make it to the final in Berlin - just like they did in 2006, when they won their fourth World Cup title in Germany.

Ahead of the Euros, they failed to qualify for a second straight World Cup in 2022.

"We are trying to keep growing, but we are coming off a missed World Cup qualification," Spalletti warned.

Recent months were overshadowed by the much-criticized departure of Euro 2020 winning coach Roberto Mancini to Saudi Arabia and accusations of racism against Acerbi.

"We've often show a poor figure when we've started from pole position. On the other hand, when we started one row behind, we were often a good surprise," head of delegation and Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon said.

The Azzurri want to put the trauma of missing out on the World Cup behind them with strong performances in Germany, while the accusations of racism against Acerbi should no longer be an issue since the defender is out of the tournament.

The betting scandal, however, "was a trauma for the team," Spalletti said. National team players Nicolo Zaniolo and Nicolo Fagioli were also involved and the police even searched the national team's training centre in Coverciano near Florence.

But Buffon hopes that the problems and their underdog role will unite the team and the nation.

"Cheering on Italy is always emotional. It's the one event where we all become brothers. That's the true magic of the national team," he said.

Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma leads his teammates across the pitch during the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa
Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma leads his teammates across the pitch during the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa
Italy's coach Luciano Spalletti walks across the pitch during the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa
Italy's coach Luciano Spalletti walks across the pitch during the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa
Italy's coach Luciano Spalletti walks across the pitch during the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa
Italy's coach Luciano Spalletti walks across the pitch during the Italian national soccer team's training session in Iserlohn, in preparation for the UEFA EURO 2024. Bernd Thissen/dpa