Roberto Mancini is feeling ‘very confident’ that Italy can begin a new era at Euro 2020 and it’s more than just results. ‘We want to entertain the fans.’
The competition begins tomorrow evening at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT) against Turkey in Rome.
The CT wrote an open letter to the country that was released on his official website today, focusing on football’s ability to distract from the stress and tragedy of the current climate.
“Now that we are hopefully seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we want to make people happy and entertain them for at least 90 minutes,” said Mancini in his press conference.
“When there are these big events, even those who don’t really follow football still try to watch the games, so we know it’s a focal point for everyone.
“The first match is always the most difficult. We must shake off the tension and not think about other things, just focus on doing our work and what we need to get done.
“There will be a little more pressure with it being the opening game of the tournament, and Turkey are packed with talent, but it remains a football match and we have to focus on that.”
Mancini has many of his former Sampdoria teammates in the staff, including Gianluca Vialli and Fausto Salsano, so he was asked if they could follow that path and win silverware again.
“We hope the final result will be the same! This team has great spirit, a sense of empathy, there are some similarities with the Samp experience. Unfortunately, we’re not the only ones aiming to go all the way.”
After the disappointment of missing the 2018 World Cup, the Nazionale are unbeaten since September 2018. Can this be the start of a new era for Italian football?
“I was confident three years ago when I arrived, I am even more so now. We’ve worked well, we have some talented players and a sense of unity. We’ve enjoyed ourselves and we want to continue doing that.
“If at the end we can reach London, then we’ll talk about it, but I do feel very confident.”
There will be 16,000 fans in the Stadio Olimpico, more than in any Italian event since March 2020, but it’s only 25 per cent capacity.
“It would’ve been wonderful to have many more, there will be 16,000 and no doubt many of them Turkish. Playing in front of nobody and in front of 16,000 is already a big difference, so we’re very happy in that sense.”
The 1990 World Cup was played in Italy and the itinerant nature of Euro 2020 sees the Azzurri play all three Group A games at the Olimpico in Rome.
“If the Olimpico had been packed, the fans would’ve been a 12th man. The impact won’t quite be the same, but we really want to make our mark in this competition.”
Lorenzo Pellegrini pulled out this morning after a muscular injury, replaced by Gaetano Castrovilli.
“We are really disappointed for Lorenzo, as he had been in good shape the day before and played a game between ranks really well. It’s sad for him to leave the Euros with one day to go. We hope he can recover quickly and prepare for the next season.”
The starting XI against Turkey seems to be pretty much locked down in Marco Verratti’s absence, but there are also five substitutions to choose from.
“I have not decided anything yet. There are another couple of training sessions and all the players are very concentrated. They know even if they don’t start, they must make the difference after coming off the bench, so there’s no risk of distraction.
“All I’ll say is either Ciro Immobile or Andrea Belotti will play, the important thing is that whoever plays fights hard and scores goals. Leonardo Spinazzola has such pace and stamina that he can play in a four-man defence or five-man midfield.”
Finally, Mancini was asked if he will have a sleepless night.
“It’ll be a different night. I hope to continue having sleepless nights up to July 10.”