MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 11:52:54| >> :600:1992482:1992482:
Jun 11, 2021 at 8pm UK at Stadio Olimpico
TurkeyTurkey
0-3
ItalyItaly

Soyuncu (88'), Dervisoglu (90')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Demiral (53' og.), Immobile (66'), Insigne (79')

Preview: Turkey vs. Italy - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's European Championship clash between Turkey and Italy, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Following a year-long delay, the much-anticipated Euro 2020 finals get underway on Friday, 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 asking.


Match preview

Italy's Nicolo Barella celebrates scoring their second goal with Giorgio Chiellini on June 4, 2021© Reuters

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 manager 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 well-rounded 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.

Under his guidance, Italy have eased to qualification for both the Euros and the semi-finals of the Nations League, while posting three wins from as many fixtures so far on the road to Qatar 2022 - meanwhile extending their unbeaten home record in World Cup qualifiers to a staggering 56 games.

In all, the four-time world champions have gone undefeated during their last 27 outings, so will certainly carry momentum into their opening night on the grand Roman stage, where the world will watch their efforts to outwit a Turkey team whose excellent recent defensive record almost matches their own.

Turkey's Kaan Ayhan celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on May 27, 2021© Reuters

Though expectation outside the transcontinental nation remains muted, Turkey coach Senol Gunes - who returned to lead his country in 2019, having overseen their third-place finish in the 2002 World Cup - will lead a confident and disciplined side into the Olimpico colosseum on Friday evening.

Taking the father figure role watching over the youngest squad at the Euros - with an average age of just under 25 years - Gunes has helped to instill some significant substance in defence, without sacrificing the flair traditionally associated with some of the best Turkish sides.

As several talented defenders came through the ranks to bolster their back line, the Crescent-Stars cruised through to the Euros having taken four points from World Cup-winners France. With new names including Serie A-based duo Merih Demiral and Kaan Ayhan being drafted in, they conceded just three times during qualifying and kept eight clean sheets throughout the 10-game process.

In all, Turkey have proven exceptionally hard to get the better of in recent times, losing on only three occasions in their 26 matches since Gunes stepped back into one of the hottest of hotseats.

Not only were competition favourites France unable to beat them home or away, but they were more recently 4-2 winners against the Netherlands in Qatar 2022 qualifying, as veteran striker Burak Yilmaz - a Ligue 1 champion with Lille - bagged a hat-trick and elusive playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu also found the target.

Now approaching a championship which they have all too often failed to reach in the past, the Crescent-Stars will look to match their best previous finishes, should the draw work out kindly - as they are strong contenders to progress from a group also containing Wales and Switzerland.

Quarter-finalists in 2000 and then surprise contestants in the final four of the 2008 edition, Turkey have, this month, taken advantage of lightweight post-season opposition to build a six-game unbeaten run, before they tackle the first examination of their credentials to go deep into this year's main event.

Turkey form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Italy form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W



Team News

Italy's Marco Verratti celebrates scoring their first goal against Bosnia with team mates on June 11, 2019© Reuters

A vital cog in the Italy engine room is set to be missing on Friday, as PSG midfield maestro Marco Verratti has trained alone during the past week, with the much-admired Manuel Locatelli instead poised to start the tournament's opening game.

While Verratti's ongoing knee problem prevents him from participating and the unfortunate Lorenzo Pellegrini and is now likely to miss the entire event with a muscle issue, Roberto Mancini has few other fitness concerns in his 26-man squad, so a very similar side to that which started the Azzurri's friendly win over the Czech Republic last week should be selected.

Therefore, Lazio's Ciro Immobile retains the centre-forward spot ahead of Andrea Belotti, who endured a loss of goalscoring form towards the end of the season, while Alessandro Florenzi's customary verve from right-back should be available, as he is set to shake off a muscular injury to start on his former home ground.

Much like the Italians, their visitors are expected to pick an XI which closely corresponds to that chosen by Senol Gunes in their final warm-up win over Moldova last week.

Burak Yilmaz should shoulder the goalscoring burden as Turkey's line-leader, with support from Milan star Hakan Calhanoglu, cutting in from the left, and Yusuf Yazici starting in behind.

In defence, Juventus centre-back Merih Demiral is favourite to line up alongside Leicester City's Caglar Soyuncu, though the Crescent-Stars are blessed with several other options at the back, with Liverpool loanee Ozan Kabak and Sassuolo's Kaan Ayhan also to consider.

Having impressed during his spell in the Premier League, Okay Yokuslu is most likely to start as the holding midfielder in a probable 4-1-4-1 formation, while Cengiz Under - back at the Olimpico after his loan at Leicester - is a candidate to replace Kenan Karaman out wide.

Turkey possible starting lineup: Cakir; Celik, Demiral, Soyuncu, Meras; Yokuslu; Calhanoglu, Tufan, Under; Yazici; Yilmaz

Italy possible starting lineup: Donnarumma; Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Locatelli; Berardi, Immobile, Insigne


SM words green background

We say: Turkey 0-1 Italy

As both nations have enjoyed a renaissance of late, two well-organised teams are likely to play out a closely-fought but technically adept affair.

With either side perhaps seeing the other as their main group rivals, it could be that one goal will decide the outcome - particularly as there will be a significant amount of defensive nous on show.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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How you voted: Turkey vs Italy

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Italy
62.1%
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Turkey's Kaan Ayhan celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on May 27, 2021
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JapanJapan175830
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Saturday's key events


TRIATHLON
· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

SWIMMING
· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

ATHLETICS
· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

SAILING
· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

TENNIS
· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

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