EURO 2020 inside track: Italy
Thursday, 10 June 2021
UEFA.com's Italy reporter Paolo Menicucci recalls his favourite EURO moment and talks key players, Roberto Mancini and why Gli Azzurri can win it.
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Group A fixtures
11/06: Turkey vs Italy (Rome)
16/06: Italy vs Switzerland (Rome)
20/06: Italy vs Wales (Rome)
Coach: Roberto Mancini
Captain: Giorgio Chiellini
Nickname: Gli Azzurri (The Blues)
How they qualified: Group J winners (W10 D0 L0 F37 A4)
EURO best: winners (1968)
Where they could play their knockout games
Round of 16: London, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Seville or Glasgow
Quarter-final: Saint Petersburg, Munich, Rome or Baku
Final 26-man squad
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Milan), Alex Meret (Napoli), Salvatore Sirigu (Torino)
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Emerson (Chelsea), Alessandro Florenzi (Paris), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma), Rafael Tolói (Atalanta)
Midfielders: Nicolò Barella (Inter), Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus), Federico Chiesa (Juventus), Bryan Cristante (Roma), Jorginho (Chelsea), Manuel Locatelli (Sassuolo), Matteo Pessina (Atalanta), Marco Verratti (Paris), Gaetano Castrovilli (Fiorentina)
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino), Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo), Ciro Immobile (Lazio), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli), Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo)
UEFA.com Italy team reporter: Paolo Menicucci
This is my fifth EURO having started in 2004, back when Giorgio Chiellini was yet to make his international debut and Gianluigi Donnarumma was five. That tournament remains my favourite alongside EURO 2012, when Italy reached the final only to lose to an amazing Spain side. My best EURO moment came when Gianluigi Buffon emerged from the team hotel following defeat by Germany in the 2016 quarter-finals to thank the Azzurri fans. Very emotional!
How they play
Italy have been playing good football. Roberto Mancini uses a 4-3-3, with the full-backs pushing on and three ball-playing midfielders. He plays a striker in between two wide attackers – one charged with cutting in from the left to become a No10 (usually Lorenzo Insigne), the other a more traditional winger.
Key player: Nicolò Barella
The Inter man can do it all: he brings energy, tackles, technique and timely runs into the opposition box to the Azzurri midfield. Mancini always utilises two midfielders who can alternate in the role of deep-lying playmaker, plus Barella playing box-to-box. The Sardinian shines in the role.
Coach: Roberto Mancini
The former Italy attacker has completely rejuvenated a team which, lest we forget, failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup – a real sporting tragedy in the country. He has done so with courage, ever committed to playing possession-based attacking football, and never afraid to trust young talent.
One to watch: Federico Chiesa
Chiesa’s first season at Juventus followed an upward curve. The son of former Italy striker Enrico scored Juve’s three goals in their UEFA Champions League last-16 defeat by Porto and smashed in the winner in the Coppa Italia final. The 23-year-old’s 2020/21 crescendo could peak at EURO 2020.
Can they win it?
Italy have enough talent to go deep into the tournament. To get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 1968, they will need to cut out the occasional profligacy. And with 2020 Golden Boot winner Ciro Immobile in their ranks, that is certainly possible for the Azzurri.