Mancini: Italy Have Moved On From World Cup Absence

Mancini: Italy Have Moved On From World Cup Absence Photo: TT
Italy's Ciro Immobile celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the international friendly soccer match between Italy and Czech Republic in Bologna

Italy boss Roberto Mancini is bullish about his side’s chances at the 2020 European Championships which they open on Friday night against Turkey.

The Azzurri failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but dominated their 2020-21 UEFA Nations League group to reach the semi-finals and are one of the favourites for the upcoming Euros.

“I was positive three years ago and I am even more so now,” Mancini told reporters ahead of their Euros opener in Rome.

“We have excellent players and have forged an excellent team spirit. We’ve had fun and we want to carry on having fun, and I am very confident that we will make it to London.”

Italy’s group includes Wales and Switzerland, along with first-up opponents Turkey who are currently ranked 29th in the world, compared to the Azzurri who are seventh.

The Welsh and Swiss are ranked 17th and 13th in the world, but Mancini insisted his side wouldn’t underestimate Turkey who boast several Serie A-based players including Juventus’ Merih Demiral and AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu.

“The first match is always the most difficult,” Mancini said. “We must shake off the tension and not think about other things, just focus on what needs to get done.

“There will be a little more pressure with it being the opening match of the tournament, and Turkey are packed with talent, but it remains just another match and we have to focus on that.”

Italy brings excellent form into the Euros, having won their past eight matches, having not conceded a goal since October last year.

The Azzurri are also unbeaten across their past 27 matches, with their last defeat coming in September 2018 against Portugal, shortly after the World Cup they missed.

On Saturday, Wales take on Switzerland, while Group B commences with Denmark against Finland and Belgium taking on Russia.

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford
Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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