WWith no host country involved, this is a first match of the European Championship with a difference as Italy hosts Turkey in Rome 12 months after the tournament was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
These two nations were in the same group at Euro 2000, when Antonio Conte was on the scoresheet in an Italian victory with his hair not in a ponytail. Italy has won four World Cups, but has not won a Euro since 1968, losing to France in the 2000 final and Spain in the 2012 final. With England in a sorry state, the Aged Belgium, fragile Germany and untested Spain, Italy is eager to sneak onto the rails after failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. It was a cataclysm, but Italy has since rebounded. Roberto Mancini is one of the best managers in the tournament and has Italy on a 27-game unbeaten streak. Put aside any preconceptions that they are a conservative and anti-possession team – with Jorginho, Marco Verratti and Nicolo Barella in the midfield, they have a technical trio reminiscent of some of the best Spanish teams there. They lack a class center-forward and still rely on Giorgio Chiellini and Leanardo Bonnuci at the rear. With France, Germany and Portugal in the same group, the draw could also be on their side.
Turkey have plenty of admirers having finished second to France favorites in their qualifying group and keeping eight clean sheets in 10 matches. They were more porous in the League of Nations, so it depends on which side comes up. Juventus midfielder Merih Demiral will know many of his opponents tonight, as will creative AC Milan midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu. Caglar Soyuncu and Ozan Kabak are among their other central defensive options, while right-back Zeki Celik and veteran striker Burak Yilmaz won the French league with Lille last season. Manager Şenol Güneş is very experienced and renowned for his attacking football.
After coverage of the Opening Ceremony, we will have full team news.