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Gianluca Zambrotta: I am even more convinced Italy can go a long way at EURO 2020

In his second exclusive column, 2006 FIFA World Cup winner Gianluca Zambrotta discusses rising expectations in Italy.

I really liked the enthusiasm and the desire to start anew in a stadium with people and fans. It was a great thing for football in general. As for Italy, I liked their patience in the first half when in possession because Turkey had closed down all the space very well and were looking to counterattack.

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Italy now have the quality to manage such long periods of possession and eventually create chances. In the second half on Friday they created many opportunities without risking almost anything. This is the most beautiful and important aspect of the Azzurri's first game.

Mancini delight after winning start for Italy
Mancini delight after winning start for Italy

It's always nice to start a European Championship with a win, even more so when you score three goals in Rome in front of your fans. It's an important start that brings enthusiasm and the desire to go forward and do even better.

Leonardo Spinazzola played a great game; not only him, but the whole team interpreted the game plan in the best possible way. It was not easy because in the first half there was no space. Spinazzola played an excellent game but can still grow a lot. In addition to his defensive strength, he is also effective in attack. He goes one on one, he runs with the ball and he sends crosses in or cuts inside to shoot himself. He has many strings to his bow.

Unfortunately Alessandro Florenzi had to come off, but Giovanni Di Lorenzo had an excellent approach to the game. In general, I think Italy are managing the squad and their resources as well as they can. So a very positive start, but now they need another victory against Switzerland on Wednesday in order to manage their energy reserves in the final group game.

Vladimir Petković is a coach who knows Italian football well; he knows Italy and our players. The Swiss started with a draw, perhaps a bit below par. But against Italy, as our neighbours, they always try to play a great match. On paper it is complicated but it's also winnable for the Azzurri.

Petković may field a team that mirrors Italy's dynamic 3-5-2 – very active, with players who move and seek space between the lines. They will not defend deep like Turkey yet it will not be a gung-ho system either, considering they will have another chance against Turkey in the last game.

I am even more convinced that Italy can go a long way. There were high expectations before and there are even more now. The progress made in recent years has been very positive. It wasn't easy after the disappointment of 2018 – not qualifying for the World Cup. Roberto Mancini has been impressive, the group is united, and there is a lot of enthusiasm. Italy's desire to do well and to be together – this is essential for a great tournament.