After 15 months of delay in the hosting of the 2020 Euro championship due to the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the host cities, Italy will be hoping to make a big statement of intent as they kick-off the campaign against Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico today (Friday)
While the Azzurri seek to make the most of home advantage in Rome, their Turkish counterparts are aiming to at least avoid defeat in their opening match of the competition at the fifth time of asking.
For just the second time in their history, Turkey will participate in a second consecutive European Championships this summer after impressively negotiating their way through Qualifying Group H.
The Crescent-Stars finished second only to France and four points clear of Iceland, losing just one of their 10 games. Furthermore, no side in European Championship qualifying had a better defensive record, with Turkey conceding just three goals.
But they face a tough task in their opening match against an Italian side looking to prove a point. After failing to reach the 2018 World Cup, their first major tournament absence since 1992, the Azzurri qualified for this tournament with a 100% record across 10 games, scoring 37 goals and conceding just four times as they breezed past the likes of Finland, Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Roberto Mancini’s side has a very different look to the Italian outfit that crashed out of Euro 2016 at the quarter-final stage with a number of young prospects replacing veteran stars. It’s time to test them out on the big stage.
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This will be the twelfth meeting between Turkey and Italy. Of the previous 11 matches, the former have failed to pick up a single win, with the Azzurri winning eight while the remaining three ended in draws.
Italy, though, have failed to win in their last two games against Turkey, with both the contests ending in 1-1 draws.
In 32 matches in charge of the Italian national team, Roberto Mancini has lost just twice (W23 D7), posting a highly impressive win percentage of 71.88.
Turkey: Cakir; Celik, Demiral, Soyuncu, Meras; Yokuslu; Calhanoglu, Tufan, Under; Yazici; Yilmaz
Italy: Donnarumma; Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Locatelli; Berardi, Immobile, Insigne