As the Euro 2020 beckons this summer, nations from all across Europe are taking part in friendly matches just before the marquee tournament begins on June 11, 2021 in Rome when Italy take on Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico.
But before the opening match, the Azzurri take on Czech Republic in a friendly in Bologna as part of the dress rehearsal before the main event. FootTheBall takes a look at the friendly to be played in the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy.
Roberto Mancini is without any serious headaches before the Euro 2020 tournament as there are no major injury concerns for the Italians ahead of the match in Bologna. But expect the 56-year old to field a relatively weaker side as he will avoid risking any of his A-list players before Euro 2020
Italy probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Cragno; Toloi, Mancini, Ferrari, Biraghi; Castrovilli, Cristante, Pessina; Bernardeschi, Kean, Grifo
The Czechs won only one of their three matches during the March World Cup qualifiers and will be playing their first friendly match before Euro 2020 begins. They will field a line-up similar to the one that was utilised during March 2021.
Czech Republic probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Vaclik; Coufal, Kudela, Celustka, Boril; Holes, Soucek; Provod, Darida, Jankto; Schick
Ciro Immobile was an unused substitute in Italy’s match with San Marino last Saturday, but this time expect him to come off the bench in the second half for the Azzurri as they face a fellow competitor in Euro 2020.
The 31-year old was the top scoring Italian player in Serie A this past season in addition to winning the European Golden Boot for his incredible performances for Lazio in the 2019-20 season.
The former Borussia Dortmund player will be instrumental if Roberto Mancini’s side aspire to become European champions for the first time since 1968.
For Czech Republic, the unlikely hero could be West Ham’s defensive midfielder Tomas Soucek who is coming off an exceptional first full season in England.
The 26-year old scored 10 goals for the Hammers in the Premier League this past season and was also a hat-trick hero for his national team during the March World Cup qualifiers as he scored three in their match with Estonia.
The former Slavia Praha player played every minute of every match for West Ham in the Premier League and will also be vital for Jan Koller’s side in overturning the run of play whenever the Czechs lose the ball to the Azzurri.
Expect the Italians to dominate proceedings for large parts of the match in Bologna, but it would be a mistake to write off the Czechs completely as the Azzurri will most likely be fielding a weaker than usual line-up as Mancini will follow the safety-first approach with respect to his regular team players.
Notwithstanding Czech Republic’s efforts, Italy will seemingly win the match given the sheer quality that Roberto Mancini has at his disposal as compared to his Czech counterpart. FootTheBall’s prediction for this match is: Italy 1 – 0 Czech Republic