Published on:


A year on from when it was originally slated to take place, Turkey are set to face Italy in the opening game of the 2020 UEFA European Championship, in what looks like a mouth-watering clash on Friday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.



The Crescent Stars come into this game after a workmanlike performance in their 2-0 win over Moldova in their final warmup game leading into the big tournament in which talisman Burak Yilmaz returned and scored after missing out on the previous two friendlies. 

In the six games that Turkey have played in 2021, they have gone unbeaten in all, winning four including a thrilling 4-2 win against the Netherlands in the World Cup qualifiers held in March.

After their wins against San Marino and the Czech Republic in the warmup games, the Blues have been in exhilarating form in 2021, with a trio of 2-0 wins in the World Cup qualifiers in March along with the 7-0 and 4-0 wins in the friendlies.



With a rest of six days for both teams, it will be a fresh start for all, and nobody can expect anything as it is a tournament which happens every four years and teams come into games, wanting to win for their country for than anything else.



As it is the first game of the tournament, Senol Gunes will have a full squad at his disposal. The main obstacle for him would be regarding the centre-back situation. Turkey are blessed with a talented set of centre-backs who play in the biggest league across Europe so Gunes will have to take a tough decision on whom to start in the opening fixture.


Senol Gunes will have a big dilemma in the selection of his centre-backs for the first game against Italy. (Image Courtesy: FIFA / Website)

Turkey Probable Starting Lineup: Gunok; Celik, Demiral, Soyuncu, Meras; Yokuslu; Yazici, Tufan, Kahveci, Calhanoglu; Yilmaz


Similar to Turkey, Italy will go into the first game with a full squad of 26 players. And like Gunes, Roberto Mancini will have to make decisions on whom to start in the midfield and attack from his plethora of options who have had great seasons with their respective clubs. The biggest question mark for Italy is the fitness of midfielder Marco Veratti. The PSG man is arguably Italy’s best midfielder but has struggled for fitness throughout the season and did not feature at all in the friendlies.


italy-manciniRoberto Mancini, like Gunes, will have a headache in selecting his starting line-up for the first game. (Image Courtesy: AS / Website)

Italy Probable Starting Lineup: Donnarumma; Florenzi, Chiellini, Bonucci; Spinazzola, Jorginho, Barella, Locatelli; Berardi, Immobile, Insigne



Although Senol Gunes’ system has players who can pop up with a goal or two here and there, it mainly revolves around their talisman Burak Yilmaz and how can the midfield get the ball to their charismatic striker. Yilmaz has had an extraordinary season with Lille, helping the club lift their first Ligue 1 title in ten years, will hope to take his form into the Euros and make an impact with Turkey.



Also, the responsibility of creating chances for the team lies on the shoulders of Hakan Calhanoglu, who has had an excellent campaign with AC Milan in the Serie A, finishing with nine assists in the league.


For the Azzurri, Ciro Immobile will be the go-to player in terms of the immense goal-scoring ability that he possesses. This can be in his numbers this season for Lazio in all competitions, finishing with 25 goals in 40 appearances.


italy-immobileCiro Immobile will Italy’s talisman at the Euros for Italy. (Image Courtesy: Azzuri / Twitter)


Apart from Immobile, Mancini will also hope that his midfielders perform to the level at which they are expected to, by the wide range of media and fans across Europe.



With both squads in such good form leading up to the main tournament, it would a difficult task to predict a winner among the two. Turkey will bank on their defence and hope Yilmaz to do some magic in front of the goal, while Italy will look to attack from the get-go and finish off the game as soon as possible, hence, FootTheBall says, Turkey 1-3 Italy.

also read