Italy begin Euros in style with win over Turkey and prove they are well built for tournament football


taly were halfway to winning this tournament when they wheeled out Andrea Bocelli to reduce us all to quivering wrecks with Nessun Dorma before kick-off, and went on to prove why they are serious contenders this summer.

That the Italians came into the tournament somewhat under the radar despite having not lost since September 2018 is rather remarkable, but they have made a mark early now, comfortably brushing aside a disappointing Turkey at Stadio Olimpico.

Roused by the tenor’s performance and having belted out their national anthem with typical vigour, Roberto Mancini’s side began Euro 2020 with some intent.

Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Leonardo Bonucci all tried their luck inside the opening 20 minutes as The Azzurri piled the pressure on a nervy Turkey.

The visitors held their own until the break but Italy remained patient and, crucially, untroubled at the back – a trait which bodes well the deeper they go in the tournament.

Turkey had stifled their hosts in the final third by packing the box with red shirts, something which came back to bite them early in the second half.

Nicolo Barella fed Berardi down the right hand side, the Sassuolo forward drove forward and cut back for Ciro Immobile, only for the cross to strike Merih Demiral who earned himself the first goal of Euro 2020 – just at the wrong end.

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The opener had Italy firing on all cylinders in search of a second.

Leonardo Spinazzola continued to drive down the left – as he had done all evening – as Italy’s most creative force from full-back and it was his shot which teed up the second.

The Roma man fired at Turkish goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakır, who parried to the feet of Immobile, the 31-year-old able to fire home and secure his first goal at a major tournament.

Cakir’s night spiralled when an attempt to play out from the back sent the ball straight to Berardi and, in a flash of four swift passes, it was with Insigne and into the back of the net – Italy scoring more than two goals in a European Championship game for the first time.

Goals had been the biggest concern for Italy ahead of the tournament but this opener will have allayed many fears.

While this came against a sorry Turkey side, should the 1968 champions keep up this attacking verve, on top of such a frugal back line – they conceded just four goals in ten qualifying games – Italy will be brimming with confidence.

Mancini’s men are no longer on the fringes or dark horses, there can be little doubt that this is a side fine tuned for tournament football.


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