Italy rising as critical Euro 2020 contenders after one other spectacular group-stage win

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It is time to speak about Italy.

After beating Switzerland 3-0 in Rome on Wednesday night time, Roberto Mancini’s males are the primary to guide their place within the knockout rounds of Euro 2020 however they’re already trying like a staff who imagine they will go an terrible lot additional than that. This will not be a gaggle filled with the superstars boasted by main match squads of the previous however they’re, crucially, a staff. And a assured, well-drilled one at that.

Whereas plenty of the cash has gone on France, Belgium or England to elevate the trophy at Wembley on July 11, Italy’s odds are steadily shortening.

They play Wales at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday to determine who finishes high of Group A forward of a doable last-16 tie in opposition to Austria or Ukraine after which a blockbuster quarterfinal with in all probability Belgium. By then Marco Verratti ought to have recovered from damage however Italy have been so spectacular of their opening two video games that the talismanic Paris Saint-Germain midfielder has barely been missed.

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Mancini’s solely concern in the mean time is the damage that compelled off captain Giorgio Chiellini early on in opposition to Switzerland, though the 36-year-old’s hamstring drawback was not extreme sufficient to maintain him from leaping up from the bench to have a good time Manuel Locatelli’s fabulously labored opening objective halfway via the primary half. Locatelli’s second of the night time, a fierce left-foot rocket drilled into the nook of the web from the sting of the penalty space, was simply pretty much as good and Ciro Motionless’s late third was the icing on the cake.

There’s a swagger in regards to the Azzurri that ought to fear everybody else.

“Switzerland are a powerful aspect, we knew it will be a troublesome recreation and it was,” stated Mancini afterwards. “We created a number of probabilities and we deserved the victory. We had been struggling within the opening minutes, however then we pressed them excessive and compelled them to make errors. They did rather well, it wasn’t straightforward, their second recreation in 5 days and it is so sizzling.”

Requested about Chiellini, Mancini stated: “We’ll see [Thursday] and hope it is nothing critical.”

With such restricted time collectively, it may be tough for worldwide groups to operate as a unit however Mancini has made it look straightforward since taking the job in Could 2018 within the wake of a disastrous World Cup qualifying marketing campaign that led to failure to make the match in Russia. Mancini has already been given a contract extension till 2026, but when his staff hold taking part in like this he may need a job for all times by the tip of the summer time. The previous Internazionale and Manchester Metropolis supervisor has bought Italy defending like Italy and attacking with all of the aptitude he had as a participant. It’s a horrifying mixture.

Victory over Switzerland, as snug because the scoreline suggests, was their tenth in a row whereas additionally extending an unbelievable unbeaten run underneath Mancini that stretches again to September 2018. The final objective they conceded was in October 2020 and judging by the best way they defended in Rome, it was straightforward to see why.

The one time Switzerland broke via Steven Zuber noticed his effort expertly saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma. The sport was already gained when the ball bounced up invitingly for Xherdan Shaqiri to whip in a comfort objective however the Liverpool ahead was nonetheless met with a wave of blue shirts that crashed round him.

“I’m within the wins, then if we concede or not is irrelevant, so long as we hold profitable,” stated Francesco Acerbi, who changed the injured Chiellini. “We attempt to assault and defend as a staff, that is why we rating many targets and concede so few. It has been going effectively thus far.

“There could be three or 4 sides within the match who’ve higher skills or people, however I stated earlier than the competitors began that there was one thing within the air with this group. I believe we are able to go far.”

The statistics communicate for themselves.

In 2021, Italy’s document stands at seven video games, seven wins, 31 scored and none conceded. At Euro 2020, it is two video games, six factors and 6 targets.

Solely France in 1984 and Germany in 1996 have began a European Championship with consecutive wins by at the very least a two-goal margin with out conceding, and each groups went on to win. Italy’s class of 2021 have each probability of becoming a member of them.

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