Euro 2020: ambitious Italy faces talented Turkey as a curtain raiser | Football news

Five years after its last appearance in a major tournament, Italy is once again taking center stage as it welcomes its Group A rival to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the Euro 2020 opener on Friday.

The failure of the Azzurri to qualify for the 2018 World Cup was a national sporting tragedy for the quadruple world champions.

But manager Roberto Mancini has since built an attractive and exuberant squad entering the tournament with the ambition of reaching the London final, five years after the heartbreak of a penalty shootout loss to Germany in the quarterfinals. Euro 2016 final.


Anticipation grew rapidly on the Peninsula, and it’s understandable: the team are undefeated in 27 games, a streak dating back to September 2018, and their steady improvement was underscored by a 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic in of his last warm-up. Thu.

Key midfielder Marco Verratti will be sidelined with a knee injury but hopes to be back in time for Italy’s second game against Switzerland. Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo should start in his place.

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Having three home games in front of around 16,000 fans will be a boost for the Italian prospects, who are high inside and outside training camp.

“This Italy team has more quality than the 2016 team, but we have to prove it,” said defender Alessandro Florenzi.

“If we go out in groups, we will have done worse than five years ago. To show that we are stronger, we have to at least make it through the quarter-finals.

However, the Azzurri face a tough task on Matchday 1 against a tough and talented Turkish side who impressed in qualifying and have a penchant for big games.

Turkey took four points in two games against world champion France in Euro qualifying and have since beaten the Netherlands 4-2 in a World Cup qualifying game and achieved 3-3 friendly draws with Germany and Croatia.

Contrary to what these goal-filled games suggest, Turkey’s greatest strength is a defense that conceded three goals in the Euro 10 qualifiers, led by center-backs Caglar Soyuncu of Leicester and Merih Demiral of Juventus.

Manager Senol Gunes led Turkey to a superb third place at the 2002 World Cup. Any hope of achieving a similar feat this summer may depend on maintaining that strength.

But there are also threats at the other end of the field. AC Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu will be more than familiar with his opponents in Rome, while 35-year-old striker Burak Yilmaz recently fired Lille for the Ligue 1 title alongside his national teammates Zeki Celik and Yusuf Yazici.

History is on the hosts’ side, however. Italy have never lost to Turkey in 10 previous meetings in all competitions, with seven wins and three draws.

It’s a race home fans hope – and expect – to continue as a new chapter begins for the Italian national team.

About Louis Miller

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