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Juve stars called up for Italy versus Croatia

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Juve stars called up for Italy versus Croatia
Andrea Pirlo will be in the thick of the action as Italy faces Croatia. Photo: Oliver Lang/AFP
07:40 CEST+02:00
Italy coach Antonio Conte has called up six Juventus stars into a 28-man squad that will face Croatia in a Euro 2016 qualifier on Friday before hosting Portugal in Geneva four days later.

Juventus were on the wrong end of a 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona on Saturday in Berlin.

It was Juve's sixth defeat in the final of Europe's premier club competition, but goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Claudio Marchisio and striker Alessandro Matri will be right back in the thick of the action as Italy go about taking another step towards the 2016 European championships.

Italy, second in Group H two points behind leaders Croatia, face Niko Kovac's side on June 12 at the Poljud stadium in Split looking for their fourth win in five qualifying matches.

A win for Croatia would see them pull five points ahead of Italy and leave Conte's men in danger of being overtaken by Norway, who are only two points adrift ahead of their home game against Azerbaijan.

Although Italy were set to convene on Sunday afternoon for their first training session since the end of the Serie A season, Juve's players have been given "until 2030" to return to the squad's training complex at Coverciano, according to a statement by the FIGC.

Juve's stars should also receive a warm welcome: Conte is the former Juventus coach who steered the Turin giants to three consecutive league titles before quitting and being replaced by Massimiliano Allegri.

Conte, meanwhile, has made several changes to the side that, thanks to Citadin Eder's 84th minute leveller, snatched a 2-2 draw away to Bulgaria in their last Euro 2016 outing in March.

Replacement goalkeeper Daniele Padelli of Torino replaces Genoa's Mattia Perin to join number one Buffon and Paris Saint Germain's Salvator Sirigu.

In defence, Juve defender Giorgio Chiellini is out suspended but Conte has recalled Davide Astori, Matteo Darmian, Mattia De Sciglio and Lorenzo De Silvestri.

Juve midfielder Marchisio returns to the squad having missed Bulgaria through a late injury knock, although AC Milan pair Luca Antontelli and Alessio Cerci, and Mirko Valdifiori of Empoli have been left at home.

The only Italy squad debutant is Nicola Sansone, who joins Sassuolo teammate Simone Zaza among a competitive strike force that includes Antonio Candreva, Stephan El Shaarawy, Manolo Gabbiadini, Ciro Immobile, Matri, Graziano Pelle and Franco Vazquez.

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