Dubai: Having thrilled us in their opening Euro 2020 Group A match by easily seeing off Turkey 3-0, Italy repeated the trick last night. They again won 3-0 - this time against Switzerland - and again entertained with their exciting brand of attacking football.
Roberto Mancini’s team have now qualified for the last 16 of the tournament and sure have made a statement of intent. They’re scoring for fun, creating plenty of chances and have not conceded a goal in their last 10 games. They are in competition-winning form and I feel they can go all the way.
Yes, France are tipped by many to come good and they will fancy their chances as will England and I feel my tip Belgium can will feel it is their time now. All three sides boasts exceptional quality in their ranks. But the Azzurri look like a complete team to me.
Sure, they will face stiffer opposition as the tournament progresses and it will be interesting to see how they cope. But, having scored 31 goals since they were last breached and currently on a mammoth 29-game unbeaten run, they will be hard to stop.
Hunger, desire, passion
What’s more, they are brimming with hunger and desire and not least passion – you could see that the way the players were belting out the national anthem before yesterday’s game. If we were to judge it by a singing contest, it would already be over. And, looking at their two games so far, they’ve scored six and don’t even look like conceding while their bold approach play has seen them win over several sets of neutral fans. Gone are the days when they would settle for a 1-0 win – but being defensively strong is still very much a part of their DNA. When Donnarumma was eventually called into action last night, he was alert to the danger and pulled off a fine save.
Italy were in control from start to finish and look like a winning machine - but, they haven’t been properly tested yet. Still, there were high expectations before the game and they are even higher now. With Immobile finally looking good on the international stage and Locatelli making his presence felt in place of the injured Veratti, Italy sure are in the mood but they may have lost captain Chiellni to injury. It looked like the veteran pulled a hamstring.
In fact, that is the only way I see this team not going all the way – through no fault of their own, but to injuries to key personnel as the games come thick and fast.