Thursday, June 17

Previous of Group A of the Eurocopa: The moment of truth for Italy

Insigne and Berardi celebrate a goal for the Italian team.

Insigne and Berardi celebrate a goal for the Italian team.

The Italian national team It hit rock bottom on November 13, 2017. After conquering the world in 2006, the ‘Azzurra’ was left out of a World Cup for the first time in 50 years. It was time to start again and Roberto Mancini he was chosen to conduct a reconstruction that three years later appears to be completed.

The ‘Nazionale’ is a recognizable team both in its pieces and in a style that is far from the clichés of ‘calcium’. A selection focused on the ball and the attack, but without neglecting the defense (a goal conceded in the last 11 games). The formula works, as evidenced by 24 consecutive games without losing.

The Euro will be your first big challenge. The state of Verratti, the differential player, and also of the veterans Chiellini and Bonucci are worrisome. A lot is expected from Insigne (19 goals and 11 assists this year) and from Immobile, promoted to references with a Mancini that at the same time has empowered young people like Barella or Chiesa. The minimum would be to match the 2016 quarters.

The step forward that resists

A classic in international tournaments that never quite makes the leap. Switzerland has participated in the last four World Cups and three of the four most recent European Cups, but without exceeding the round of 16. In fact, the penalty shootout loss to Poland in the 2016 first round is their greatest achievement in a European championship.

Everything indicates that Vladimir Petkovic will once again entrust the reins of the team to an old guard who, however, has lived a difficult course in his clubs. This is the case of Shaqiri, the greatest Swiss talent but without a gap at Anfield. Or Xhaka, the heart of the team but highly criticized at Arsenal, and Ricardo Rodríguez, a substitute at Torino. Others like goalkeeper Sommer or striker Seferovic (26 goals and 7 assists with Benfica) arrive in better shape. The new sap comes from Germany, with the Gladbach Elvedi- Zakaria-Embolo trio propping up each line and the promising Augsburg winger Rubén Vargas.

The candidate for great revelation

The Turkish team has all the ingredients to become one of the revelations of this European Championship. After reaching the semifinals in 2008, their highest level, the Ottoman team did not pass the group stage in 2016 and have not reached a World Cup since reaching the semifinals in 2002. The coach who achieved that feat, Senol Günes, returned to the selection in 2019 to lead the resurrection of Turkey on the international scene.

The precedents are encouraging. Only three defeats in 25 games. Unbeaten in their duels against the Netherlands, France and Germany. The Ottoman team has young people who triumph in the big leagues on all lines. Like the Milan midfielder Çalhanoglu (9 goals and 12 assists this season) or the centrals Söyüncü (Leicester), Kabak (Liverpool) and Demiral (Juve). Also Getafe striker Enes Ünal. Although the great offensive and spiritual reference is Burak Yilmaz, flaming French champion like Yazici and Çelik.

Bale, the flame of the ‘dragons’

Wales was one of the great revelations of Euro 2016. In their first appearance, the ‘red dragons’ defeated Belgium in the quarterfinals and fell to champions Portugal in the semi-finals.

Five years later, Gareth Bale remains the banner of a renewed team of young talent. Like United winger Daniel James or Chelsea midfielder Ethan Ampadu. The still Real Madrid player, his national team’s top scorer, has always had his priorities clear: “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order”. After an irregular course in London (16 goals), Wales will need the best version of Bale to get the ball rolling again. He starts off slightly as the weakest opponent in the group, but he has proven to be a tough nut to crack.

With Robert Page he has conceded only two goals in seven games. Giggs’ second took the bench after the coach was suspended from office after being accused of sexist violence.

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