UEFA 2020 Euro Championship – Day 1
Italy and Turkey get the delayed Euro 2020 tournament underway at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome tonight. The Italians topped their Group in qualifying with a 100% record having beaten Finland, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Armenia and Liechtenstein both home and away. The Azzuri scored 37 goals and conceded just 4 as they romped home twelve points clear of second-placed Finland. Turkey came through as runners-up in their qualifying campaign, finishing just two points behind France, in a Group that also contained Iceland, Albania, Andorra and Moldova. The Crescent Stars beat France in the Group stages but lost out on top-stop after only picking up a point in their two meetings with Iceland.
Coming into this game, Italy swept past the Czech Republic 4-0 in their final warm-up game in Bologna which saw an eighth consecutive win without conceding a goal. Immobile and Barella gave Italy a 2-0 halftime lead, with Insigne and Berardi completing the scoring. Turkey also ended their preparations with a victory, beating Moldova 2-0 in a game played at the Benteler Arena in Paderborn, Germany, with both goals coming in the second-half through Burak Yilmaz and Cengiz Under.
These sides have met in European Finals, when back in 2000, they were drawn together in Group B. At the GelreDome, home to Vitesse Arnhem, the game came to life in the second-half when Antonio Conte put the Italians ahead seven minutes after the break. Okan Buruk levelled for Turkey on sixty-minutes, only to see a Filippo Inzaghi penalty eight minutes later restore the lead for Italy as the game finished 2-1 to The Azzuri.
For what it’s worth, I’ll go for an Italian win tonight, possibly 1-0 or 2-0. Given the Italians have won the World Cup on four occasions, it is perhaps a surprise that the have only won one European title, that being back in 1968. If Italy display the kind of fluency in front of goal and meanness at the back as in the qualifiers, they could be a real threat.