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Euro 2020: Mancini Seeks Redemptive Win Against FA Cup Nemesis Martinez

Euro 2020: Mancini Seeks Redemptive Win Against FA Cup Nemesis Martinez

On Friday heavyweights Italy and Belgium will do battle in the last eight of the Euros to keep their hopes of being crowned 2020 European champions.

Both teams have been impressive so far after winning all their four games so far in the tournament.

For Italian boss Roberto Mancini, he hasn’t had much to get flustered about during this year’s Euros. A good thing too given any sign of inner turmoil would quickly be made apparent on the underarms of his elegant, stone grey coloured suit.

But the thought of an upcoming reunion with Belgium Coach Roberto Martinez, his FA Cup final nemesis, might have resulted in Italy’s effortlessly cool manager getting a little hot under his pristinely ironed white collar.

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Martinez was in charge of Wigan Athletic when they defeated Mancini’s Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final courtesy of Ben Watson’s 91st-minute winner – arguably the second-biggest shock in English football over the past decade, behind Leicester City’s title triumph in 2016.

That defeat signalled the end of Mancini’s three-and-a-half-year spell in Manchester in which the foundations of success in the Sheikh Mansour era were laid.

Mancini led City to a first FA Cup title in 42 years in 2011 and far more significantly, added a first Premier League trophy to the club’s cabinet the following year.

Mancini and his coaching staff will have spent the past few days plotting a containment strategy to keep the star of Inter Milan’s Serie A title win, Romelu Lukaku quiet.

Numerous plans will have been drawn up to cut off Lukaku’s supply line based on whether Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard both start, if one or the other does or if neither are involved, given the pair are injury doubts for the game in Munich.

And Mancini’s mind will no doubt have wandered to what kind of tactical mind games Martinez has in store given he previously outwitted him with a team that slipped into the Championship three days after that FA Cup final upset.

Nevertheless, the stars appear to be aligning for Italy. While De Bruyne and Hazard look set to run out of recovery time, Giorgio Chiellini has won his fitness battle after missing out against Austria. PSG playmaker Marco Verratti has come through 157 minutes unscathed to strengthen an already formidable midfield.

Once more, Mancini finds himself leading the favourite, albeit by a much finer margin than last time. A win over Martinez would provide overdue redemption for that Wembley humiliation.

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