After 5 years, Italy returns to the major competitions

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Five years after its last appearance in the major competitions, Italy will return to the scene when it faces Turkey in the Olympic Stadium in Rome in the first group in the opening of the European Football Championship 2020 on Friday.Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in a national sporting tragedy for the four-time world champion. But since Roberto Mancini took charge, he has built an attractive team and entered the tournament with the ambition of reaching the final in London, five years after losing on penalties to Germany in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

Expectations rose quickly on the peninsula and this is understandable after Mancini’s side have gone 27 unbeaten in a series since September 2018 and showed their continued development with a 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic in their last pre-final friendly.Prominent midfielder Marco Verratti will miss the match with a knee injury but is hoping to catch the second match against Switzerland and Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli will likely start in his position. Italy will get a boost from playing three matches at home in front of about 16,000 fans.

“The current Italy team has more potential than the 2016 team, but we have to show that,” said defender Alessandro Florenzi. “If we get out of the group stage, the result will be worse than five years ago, and to prove that we are better, we must at least get past the quarter-finals.”But Italy will have a tough start against Turkey, which is resilient and talented and impressed with its qualifying performance against the top teams.

Turkey won four points from two matches against world champions France in the European Championship qualifiers, beat the Netherlands 4-2 in the World Cup qualifiers, and drew 3-3 with Germany and Croatia in a friendly.

Contrary to what these high-goal matches indicate, Turkey’s strength lies in its defense, as it conceded three goals in 10 matches in the European Championship qualifiers, in light of the brilliance of the duo Shalar Soyongo of Leicester and Merih Demiral of Juventus.

Coach Senol Güneş led Turkey to third place in the 2002 World Cup and any chances of repeating the feat this summer depend on his consistency.

But there are other weapons in Turkey’s squad, represented by Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu, who will find the atmosphere familiar with his rivals in Rome, as well as 35-year-old striker Burak Yilmaz, who won the Ligue 1 title with Lille recently with his teammates Zeki Celik and Yusuf Yazici.

History tends to the hosts, as Italy has never lost to Turkey in 10 previous matches in all competitions, and has won seven wins against three draws. The hosts hope that this series will continue as expected to continue writing a new chapter in Italian history.





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