CM – Ambitious Italy meets talented Turkey in the curtain

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Friday June 11th 2021

Admiring the view: cyclists in a fan zone on the Piazza del Popolo in Rome. – Reuters

ROM: Five years after its last major tournament appearance, Italy is once again in the spotlight when it welcomes Group A rivals Turkey to the opening match of Euro 2020 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome today.

That the Azzurri failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup was a national sporting tragedy for the four-time world champion.

But coach Roberto Mancini has since built an attractive, exuberant team that comes into the tournament with the ambition of reaching the London final , five years after the painful defeat on penalties against Germany in the quarter-finals of the 2016 European Championship.

The anticipation on the peninsula has grown rapidly, and understandably so: The team has been unbeaten in 27 games since September 2018, and its steady improvement was underlined by a 4-0 win against the Czech Republic in the final warm-up game.

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

Three home games in front of around 16,000 fans will fuel the Italian hopes that are high inside and outside the training camp.

“This Italian team has more quality than the team from 2016, but we have to prove that, « said defender Alessandro Florenzi.

 » When we go out in groups, we have done worse than five years ago. In order to show that we are stronger, we have to at least get through the quarter-finals. ”

However, the Azzurri face a difficult task on the first day against a robust and talented Turkish team that impressed in qualifying and a penchant for big ones Games has.

Turkey scored four points from two games against world champions France in qualifying for the European Championship and has since beaten Holland 4-2 in a World Cup qualifier and a 3-3 draw in friendly games against Germany and Croatia .

Contrary to what these goal-filled games suggest, Turkey’s greatest strength is a defense that conceded three goals in Euro 10 qualifying and was backed by central defenders Caglar Soyuncu from Leicester and Merih Demiral from Juventus was directed.

AC Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu will know his opponents very well in Rome, while 35-year-old striker Burak Yilmaz recently joined his nation in Lille al teammates Zeki Celik and Yusuf Yazici have fired for the Ligue 1 title.

Italy has never lost to Turkey in 10 previous matches in any of its competitions, seven wins and three draws.

It’s a run, that home fans hope – and expect – so that a new chapter begins for the Italian national team. – Reuters

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