The delayed soccer 2020 European Championships (Euro 2020) are in full swing, and there has been plenty of excitement through the opening group stage matches. Two-time European Champions France is still the overall favorites for Euro 2020 glory, but another team in blue looks set to lift the coveted Henri Delaunay trophy.
Italy went into Euro 2020 relatively unfancied. The Azzurri found themselves trailing France, England, Germany, Belgium, and Spain in the betting odds. Take a look at the sites offering sports betting in California now, and you find Italy’s odds are still full of value, although they are now third-favorites for glory.
Roberto Mancini’s men brushed aside Turkey in the opening game of Euro 2020, running out 3-0 winners. Turkey lacked everything on the night, but you can only beat what is in front of you. The Italians dominated in all areas, enjoying 63% possession and registering 24 shots on goal, eight of which were on target.
Merih Emiral put the ball in his own net to break the deadlock on 53 minutes. Strikes from Ciro Immobile (66) and Lorenzo Insigne (79) sealed the deal for Italy, who stretched their unbeaten run to 28 games, a spell dating back to September 2018.
The in-form Italians faced Switzerland, ranked 13th in the world, in their second group game. Switzerland put up more of a fight than Turkey, yet Italy still ran out 3-0 winners.
Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli bagged a brace, opening the scoring on 26 minutes and making it 2-0 on 52. Immobile netted in the 89th minute to seal another emphatic victory for Mancini’s seemingly unstoppable side.
Italy is now unbeaten in 29 games in all competitions and has not conceded a goal in their previous ten games.
Historically, Italian teams play quite defensively with a sprinkling of flair players. However, this Italian outfit is rock solid in defense but plays an attacking, possession-based system that nobody seems to know how to counter.
Italy only needs a point against Wales on June 20 to lock up the top spot in the group. Wales also only needs a point to guarantee qualification to the Round of 16 phase. We fully expect Italy to beat the Welsh.
The Italians Have The Firepower To Trouble Anyone
A few question marks remained over the head of Lazio and Italy striker Ciro Immobile going into the tournament. Immobile has an immense goalscoring record in Serie A with 123 goals in 177 games for Lazio. However, his 15 goals in 48 appearances for the national side is nowhere near as prolific.
Immobile has been superb at Euro 2020. Against Turkey, he had 32 touches, completed 81.8% of his passes, had six shots, hit the target twice, and rounded things off with a goal.
The Swiss managed Immobile well despite him finding the back of the net late on. They limited Immobile to only four shots on goal.
It does not matter if teams nullify the threat of Immobile because the Italian has plenty of firepower elsewhere in the squad. Manuel Locatelli has been a revelation since making his debut 12 games ago. Locatelli is only in the team because of an injury to star man Marco Verrati but now looks undroppable despite Verrati approaching match fitness.
A Rock Solid Defense
The Italian forwards are free to express themselves because of Italy’s rock-solid defense. You cannot lose games if you do not concede goals; it is as simple as that.
Veteran central defender Giorgio Chiellini has a goal chalked off against Switzerland before limping off with a suspected hamstring injury on 23 minutes. Chiellini is 36-years-old, so is extremely unlikely to feature in Italy’s remaining games. He is a significant loss, but both Francesco Acerbi and Rafael Toloi are more than capable deputies, plus both have more pace than the man with 109 caps under his belt.
Italy’s Potential Route to the Final
Finishing top of Group A would mean Italy faces the runners-up of Group C, which looks to be one of either Ukraine or Austria. It could be the Netherlands, but the Dutch only need a point against struggling North Macedonia to top the group.
Neither Austria nor Ukraine has the tools to dismantle this Italian side.
Let us assume the Italians win their Round of 16 fixture on June 26. They would not play again until July 3, when their most likely opponents are the Netherlands. The Oranje are not the Dutch team of old, so Italy would be firm favorites here.
This sets up a potential quarter-final clash against either Portugal or Germany, and neither of those sides looks capable of turning over Mancini’s men. Once you reach the semi-finals, it is anyone’s game.
So, Italy to win Euro 2020. You heard it here first!