"I like the atmosphere that’s developed within the team," said Roberto Mancini, going into the finals on a 27-game unbeaten run.
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Roberto Mancini took the Italy helm in May 2018 with the Azzurri at a low ebb.
For the first time in 60 years, they were sitting out a FIFA World Cup, and after winning an initial friendly against Saudi Arabia, Mancini oversaw a run of five games without a victory, including two defeats. Since then, Italy have not lost in 27 games, and should they negotiate unbeaten their UEFA EURO 2020 group matches in Rome against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales, then Mancini would equal a team-record run of 30 set by Vittorio Pozzo's side in the 1930s.
The current sequence includes victory in all ten qualifiers, and Italy go into these finals with eight straight wins, Mancini having blended young talents such as Federico Chiesa into a squad still containing the experienced likes of Giorgio Chiellini. The coach spoke to UEFA.com about the mix in his team, their group rivals, and looking forward to playing in front of fans when they kick off the tournament against Turkey on Friday.
On the squad …
I like the atmosphere that’s developed within the team and what the younger players have managed to achieve in such a short space of time, thanks in part to the help they’ve received from the more experienced players in the group. Sometimes players need more time, but these youngsters are quick to learn and have improved a lot, and because they're so young, they can still improve further.
On Italy’s group ...
This group is quite hard. You’re unlikely to find weak teams in a competition like this. They are all difficult games. After the draw it looked like an easy group, but football isn’t like that today. Every team is well prepared tactically, technically and physically. It will be a difficult group.
Turkey are a strong team, because their players are good technically and physically strong. They have improved a lot. It will be the same playing against Switzerland and Wales.
On Italy’s toughest potential opponent ...
As I already said, in this tournament there are a lot of good teams, but if I had to mention just one, it would probably be France because they’re world champions. They had a very young team when they won the [2018 FIFA] World Cup, and they’re even better now. We can probably only meet them in the final, so we hope it’ll be France.
On the return of fans …
The fans are very important. If the Stadio Olimpico had 70,000 people it would have been great. I played at the World Cup in 1990 and the fans were amazing. It’s a bit different today – we’ll have less people in there, but playing with them in attendance again is fantastic.