Following a year-long delay, the much-anticipated Euro 2020 finals get underway today, as form side Italy host fast-improving Turkey at the iconic Stadio Olimpico.
While the Azzurri seek to make the most of home advantage in Rome, their Turkish counterparts are aiming to at least avoid defeat in their opening match of the competition at the fifth time of ask- ing.
Four-times world champions Italy will marry vast experience with youthful exuberance this summer, as they attempt to end a half-century of European Championship hurt with one of their most fancied squads in years.
Due to their consistently excellent form during last season, the Azzurri yet to be crowned continental champions since their last success back in 1968 – come into Group A not only as favourites to progress as section winners, but also as one of the favourites to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy next month.
Allied to their superb record under coach Roberto Mancini -who has transformed a side lacking in direction and belief into a slick, well-oiled winning machine since his appointment in 2018 – La Nazionale will play each of their group stage games in the Italian capital; starting with a testing opening night encounter with Mediterranean rivals Turkey.
Mancini can prepare for the game in the knowledge that his is currently the highest win rate of any Italy man- ager in history – having come out on top in more than two- thirds of his matches to date. Furthermore, his new-look squad have rattled in over 70 goals and conceded just 14 during the process and are currently on an eight-game winning streak – including pre-tournament friendlies versus San Marino and the Czech Republic.
Incorporating talented youngsters such as in-demand goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, flying winger Federico Chiesa, plus Scudetto-winning Inter pair Nicolo Barella and Alessandro Bastoni into a wellrounded selection with few obvious flaws, the former Manchester City manager was the recent recipient of a new contract that runs until after the 2026 World Cup.