Euro 2020 profile: Italy’s new era begins

by | Jun 9, 2021 14:15 | Editorial, Azzurri, Euro 2020

11 June – Turkey (8pm GMT, Stadio Olimpico, Rome)

16 June – Switzerland (8pm GMT, Stadio Olimpico, Rome)

20 June – Wales  (5pm GMT, Stadio Olimpico, Rome)

From one of the lowest points in their history, the Azzurri are back in fine form. Giancarlo Rinaldi writes.

Dark Horses

Italy have turned things around and have been on a long unbeaten run which has also seen them produce some entertaining football. Now they will look to cement that revival with an impressive performance at this summer’s delayed tournament. Don’t expect them to sit back anymore, these boys in blue will aim to take the initiative in every match.

The Azzurri will have plenty of experience at the back with Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini who will be playing his last international tournament as he goes into his last season as a footballer.

Alessandro Florenzi has had a positive season at PSG while Emerson Palmieri has just won the Champions League with Chelsea despite not being a regular starter under Thomas Tuchel.

Roberto Mancini has probably one of the most exciting midfield in the tournament with the likes of Jorginho, Nicolò Barella and Marco Verratti. The PSG midfielder, however, could miss the opening two games of the season with a muscular problem while Stefano Sensi picked up an injury in the early stages of the pre-Euro training camp and was replaced by Matteo Pessina. Either the Atalanta man or Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini could replace Verratti if the latter fails to recover in time for the first game of the tournament in Rome on June 11.

The Azzurri are unbeaten in the last 27 games, only Vittorio Pozzo had had a better record going 30 games unbeaten. However, Mancini’s men have also won the last 18 matches in a row and seem one of the most solid teams of the competition.

Even José Mourinho praised the Azzurri, saying he doesn’t see weak points in the squad and expecting Mancini’s men to reach the semifinals. The Special One may be right if either Andrea Belotti or Ciro Immobile will be able to find the net consistently during the competition.

Mancini’s preferred XI seems to be decided already, with the only significant doubt being on the right where either Federico Chiesa or Domenico Berardi could start at attacking winger, with the latter favourite to get the nod against Turkey in the debut game.

It’s been ages since Italy haven’t had such an exciting squad and with the first part of the tournament played in Italy, the Azzurri could be given an extra boost by fans returning to stadiums. They are not the favourites, but their mix of young and experienced players can create trouble for many big teams.

Coach: Roberto Mancini — Tasked with bringing the Azzurri back to where they belong he had a slow start before hitting his stride. A crop of new faces have been added to old stalwarts.

Preferred XI: Donnarumma; Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson Palmieri; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Berardi, Immobile, Insigne.

Look out for: Nicolò Barella has been a revelation for club and country in recent times and he will look to carry that form on into the tournament.

Italy Euro 2020 squad (click here for the player-by-player guide)

Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino)

Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson Palmieri (Chelsea), Alessandro Florenzi (Paris), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Toloi (Atalanta)

Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Stefano Sensi (Inter), Marco Verratti (Paris)

Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Matteo Politano (Napoli)

Italy versus…

…Turkey P 10 W 7 D 3 L 0 F 18 A 5

…Switzerland P 58 W 28 D 22 L 8 F 107 A 67

…Wales P 9 W 7 D 0 L 2 F 23 A 5

Stats

Population: 60.6m

Nickname: Gli Azzurri, La Nazionale

Top Division: Serie A

FIFA World Ranking: 7

International honours: World Cup (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006), European Championship (1968), Olympic Gold Medal (1936)

Most capped player: Gianluigi Buffon (176)

Leading international scorer: Luigi Riva (35)

Italy at the European Championships:

1960 – Did not enter

1964 – Did not qualify

1968 – Champions

1972 – Did not qualify

1976 – Did not qualify

1980 – Fourth Place

1984 – Did not qualify

1988 – Semifinal

1992 – Did not qualify

1996 – Group Stage

2000 – Runners-up

2004 – Group stage

2008 – Quarter-Final

2012 – Runners-up

2016 – Quarter-Final

How they got to Euro 2020: Italy cruised through Group J with 10 wins out of 10.

 

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