EURO 2020 PREVIEW: ITALY VS WALES, DRAGONS NEED POINT TO CONFIRM ROUND OF 16 BERTH WITH AZZURRI ALREADY THROUGH

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Italy is cruising through the group stages and has already booked its place in the next round. In the final group fixture, the Italian capital will host a fascinating fixture between Italy and Wales on Sunday, June 20. One of the late favourites of the tournament will face the dark horse of the tournament ready to improve on last edition’s surprise run.

The Azzurri has always been known for its defensive structure and strength since time immemorial. The arrival of coach Roberto Mancini though added the offensive shape required to break down defences while keeping their own base safe. The mix of young and experienced players, both high on talent, has transformed the side that missed out on playing the 2018 World Cup into favourites for .

 

 

Unbeaten since September 2018, the Italians haven’t conceded a goal in their last 10 games in all competitions and will want to carry the form towards the last group stage game. After winning both of their opening two fixtures with a 3-0 scoreline, the confidence will be running high among the mighty Italians.

Their opponents on the other hand, haven’t had their luck in the Euro finals for a long time, and are only making their second appearance in the competition. The Dragons managed to pull off a major upset in 2016, when they beat Belgium to get to the semi finals. The eventual winners Portugal knocked them out but Wales did leave their mark.

 

 

In their first two group fixtures, Wales applied the pragmatic approach and fought out a draw against the aggressive Swiss side. They then got the much needed three points against Turkey in a 2-0 win, despite a missed penalty from captain Gareth Bale.

A point will secure Wales’ place in the next round, and we can expect them going out for a draw, but Mancini has used his depleted squad very efficiently to break down low blocks.

 

TEAM NEWS

The former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini is yet again in misery after already missing star players like Verratti, Pellegrini, Zaniolo and Sensi. The last match saw an early substitute of defensive wall Giorgio Chiellini due to a pulled muscle in the left thigh.

 

 

Man of the match Manuel Locatelli also limped off the pitch in the final minutes due to a cramp but might be fit for the next match. Marco Verratti is improving according to the manager, but might yet sit out another game to be fully fit for the knockouts. A similar approach is expected from Italy with a 4-3-3 formation, with Francesco Acerbi filling in for the captain Chiellini.

Italy Probable Lineup: Donnarumma; Spinazzola, Bonucci, Acerbi, Di Lorenzo; Locatelli, Barella, Jorginho; Insigne, Immobile, Berardi

 

Robert Page, the caretaker manager of Wales will have a full squad available and will play the strongest eleven to confirm a place in the Round of 16. Joe Allen recovered in time and has put a brilliant performance in both games.

 

 

Page is expected to go with a 4-1-4-1 formation as in the previous matches.

Wales Probable Lineup: Ward, Davies, Rodon, Mepham, Roberts; Allen; Bale, Morrell, Ramsey, James, Moore

 

GAME CHANGERS

Ciro Immobile has led the line for Italy in the past seven years, taking his international goal tally to 15 in 48 appearances, including two goals in the two group stage fixtures. Immobile is a complete all-rounder in the attacking third, who can score and create goals with both feet. He likes to close down the opponents and helps the team win the ball in the attacking half. The 31-year old is one of the most hard-working players off the ball and the biggest threat for Italy’s adversaries.

 

He is expected to continue the blazing run of form against The Dragons and seal another victory for Italy.

Wales’ record goalscorer and captain Gareth Bale might have blasted a penalty, but his two assists and an overall brilliant game helped his team gain three points against the strong Turkish side. Bale is certainly Wales’ biggest threat and his performance will be crucial for his side’s further progress in the competition.

 

 

The Real Madrid star can beat defenders with pace and skill before launching an inch-perfect delivery into the box. The 33-year old also likes to cut in and bend one in the far post with his monster of a left foot.

Bale’s ability on the ball can end Italy’s clean sheet streak and make the difference for Wales.

 

PREDICTIONS

Wales will give a tough fight to the hosts but Roberto Mancini’s young Italians look almost invincible at this moment. Injuries have plagued the Italy squad and the recent addition of team captain Chiellini might be worrisome, but Italy can still edge over Wales with their ever-reliable midfield. FootTheBall predicts another 3-0 victory for Italy.

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