Countdown to Euro 2020: Daily briefing
The tournament, delayed 12 months by the coronavirus pandemic, finally kicks off on Friday night ahead of a feast of football over the next month across the continent where Europe’s best team will be crowned.
Roberto Mancini’s Italy are one of 11 host nations and will begin their campaign as Group A favourites when they take on the Turkish at the Stadio Olimpico tonight, before group rivals Wales and Switzerland meet in Baku tomorrow.
Italy’s squad is a mix of veteran graft – in the shape of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Jorginho – and fresh young talent like Alessandro Bastoni and Federico Chiesa. Whatever team Roberto Mancini picks is going to full of quality.
Turkey are being tipped as dark horse in some quarters, however, having beaten Netherlands 4-2 in a World Cup qualifier earlier this year. Burak Yilmaz is a constant goal threat and his will be an intriguing battle with the Italian defence.
Follow all the latest build-up and action from the Stadio Olimpico – including that opening ceremony – throughout right here:
Lippi identifies Barella and Immobile as key players
Marcello Lippi believes Nicolò Barella and Ciro Immobile will be Italy’s key players at Euro 2020, but warns: ‘It’s not like in 2006’.
Marcello Lippi, the former Italy coach who guided the Azzuri to 2006 World Cup glory, previewed Euro 2020 in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I can see Italy have self-esteem and the quality to reach a great result. There is ambition and a solid base, but it’s not like in 2006 when we played more games before the beginning of the tournament,” the 73-year-old said.
“However, the reality is that Italy always play to win, every time we play a big competition. If we’ll be lucky enough and all the players will be fit, then everything is possible.”
“I see two players who can be decisive. The first one is Nicolò Barella, because he does everything top players do in his position. He attacks and defends, he has the confidence to shoot from outside the penalty area, he is the prototype of a great international midfielder.
“The other one is Ciro Immobile. I trust him and I think the right moment has come to reap the rewards of his hard work,” the former CT continued.
“[Roberto] Mancini has done so much. He boosted the team’s self-esteem, Italy play offensive football and the coach knows how to win.”
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 13:50
Turkey vs Italy: Defensive masterclass on the cards
It’s certainly going to be an interesting opening match, with two sides that dominate defensively.
In the blue corner, Italy have won their past eight matches without conceding a goal and have 20 clean sheets in 32 matches since Roberto Mancini took over as coach.
In the red corner, one of Turkey’s key strengths is their solidity at the back. Gunes’ side allowed only three goals in qualifying and managed to keep in-form forwards Memphis Depay and Erling Haaland out during recent World Cup qualifiers against the Netherlands and Norway.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 13:36
Italy Euro 2020 squad guide
In the ever evolving nature of international football, Italy hold an ace up their sleeve in the shape of their manager, Roberto Mancini, who is a strong contender in the conversation surrounding who is the best manager at this summer’s Euro 2020.
Having lifted a nation in shock off the canvas following the humiliation of missing out altogether at the 2018 World Cup, the former Manchester City and Inter Milan boss has inspired a remarkable 25-game unbeaten streak that stretches all the way back to 2018 and a 1-0 Nations League defeat to Portugal.
Yet to dispense with the old guard entirely, Mancini has instead smoothly integrated the bright young talent at his disposal, including Alessandro Bastoni, Nico Barella, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Federico Chiesa, all of whom have now established themselves as key parts for the Azzurri.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 13:24
Turkey: Euro 2020 dark horses?
Turkey have proven remarkably hard to get the better of in recent times, losing on only three occasions in their 26 matches since Senol Gunes stepped back into the hotseat.
Not only were competition favourites France unable to beat them home or away, but they were more recently 4-2 winners against the Netherlands in Qatar 2022 qualifying, as veteran striker Burak Yilmaz – a Ligue 1 champion with Lille – bagged a hat-trick and elusive playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu also found the target.
Now approaching a championship which they have all too often failed to reach in the past, the Crescent-Stars – semi-finalists in 2008 – will look to match their best previous finishes, should the draw work out kindly – as they are strong contenders to progress from a group also containing Wales and Switzerland.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 13:12
Roberto Mancini warns Italy not to underestimate Turkey in Euro 2020 opener
Mancini’s men go into the tournament as one of the favourites for the title after launching themselves on a 27-match unbeaten run, including winning all 10 of their qualifying games.
But Mancini, who spent a year coaching Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Lig, is all too aware of the threat posed by his opponents, and the possibility of freezing on the big occasion.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 13:04
Ventura hails Mancini after Italy ‘hit rock bottom’
Former Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura says Roberto Mancini has done a great job after the Azzurri ‘hit rock bottom.’
Mancini was appointed to replace Ventura and led Italy to Euro 2020, losing just two of his 30 games in charge of the Azzurri.
“He’s done a great job. Now he is missing only the icing on the cake,” Ventura told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Italy could only rise after hitting rock bottom, but that was not easy. Mancini deserves praise for trusting many young players who have become cornerstones of this team. He’s made the pitch do the talking.
“I think Italy will be among the top four at Euro 2020,” he added. “France remain the favourites, but Italy will be among the main protagonists. England have Foden, France have Mbappé and Belgium have Lukaku, just to name three important players.
“We have a team because each player is at the team’s service. We are like a club that plays a tournament for national teams.”
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 12:56
Euro 2020: Roberto Mancini making up for lost time as he leads new-look Italy
A runners-up finish in Turkey with Galatasaray. A respectable if unspectacular season-and-a-half attempting to turn Inter’s tanker around. A disappointing year without distinction at Zenit Saint Petersburg. And now a stint in international football, where coaching careers often go to die. It is not typically what most Premier League title-winning managers do next, but then Roberto Mancini has always tended to do his own thing.
That was certainly the reputation he earned during his three years in Manchester which, though tumultuous, reshaped the city’s football landscape. If Pep Guardiola is the ideal figurehead for the present day Manchester City with their designs on world domination, then so was Mancini for the insurgent, sharp-elbowed City when they were looking to shake their nouveau riche tag at the turn of the last decade.
Mancini’s bullish, direct manner and dictatorial idiosyncrasies would cause problems further down the line but it was what City needed to begin with. There was more than a little uncertainty inside the club when, for example, no more than a few weeks after his appointment, he vowed to tear down the ‘34 Years’ milometer-style banner in the Stretford End which recorded the length of their rivals’ long trophy drought. It was bold but he eventually made good on the promise and only allowed it to tick over another year.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 12:48
Chance for Locatelli to impress
According to Sky Sport Italia, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and PSG are keeping a close eye on Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, who will start for Italy against Turkey tonight.
The Neroverdi want at least €40m to sell him – and that price could increase in the near future if the 23-year-old impresses at the Euros.
Locatelli is expected to start with Nicolò Barella and Jorginho in Italy’s midfield against Turkey this evening.
The Azzurri are without the injured Marco Verratti, who is expected to recover for the second game of the group stage, while Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini was ruled out of the competition due to a muscle injury and replaced by Fiorentina’s Gaetano Castrovilli.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 12:40
Is Turkey vs Italy on TV tonight?
The Azzurri have been unbeaten for 27 games, though midfield maestro Marco Verratti will hope to shake off a knock to inspire the four-time World Cup winners to the latter stages of the competition.
Turkey could be dark horses though, with a sturdy back line, including Leicester’s Çağlar Söyüncü and Juventus star Merih Demiral.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 12:32
Turkey vs Italy: Deja vu for Group A rivals
On this day in 2000, Italy – captained by Milan legend Paolo Maldini – kicked off their European Championship journey with a 2-1 win over Turkey.
Antonio Conte opened the scoring with a superb overhead kick before Okan Buruk levelled for Turkey. Filippo Inzaghi converted a penalty to secure all three points for the Italians.
It was almost a dream team with the likes of Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Demetrio Albertini and Francesco Totti all in their starting XI. Alessandro Del Piero came off the bench!
Twenty-one years later, the Azzurri will be hoping they can spoil Turkey’s opening match yet again – and embark on a similar run as that team were defeated by France in the final.
Andrew Gamble11 June 2021 12:24