AFTER more than a year of waiting Euro 2020 finally gets going as Turkey take on Italy in a mouthwatering opener tonight.
The Azzurri will have the all-important home advantage in the crucial Group A clash, with 16,000 fans allowed in to watch at the Stadio Olimpico.
Italy will have the benefit of home advantage for the first game of the tournament[/caption]
Getting underway at 8pm, fans here in the UK can settle down to watch the game – and the Opening Ceremony – live on BBC ONE.
What’s the form?
Italy enter the tournament in sparkling form and will be delighted that they’re going slightly under the radar.
Coached by former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, his side have won EIGHT on the bounce – and kept a clean-sheet in every one of those victories.
A tough task then for the Turks, who will be looking to breach an Italian defence which hasn’t conceded in 795 minutes of play.
Turkey – managed by the formidable Şenol Güneş – have themselves lost just once in their last 13 internationals, memorably putting four past Holland back in March.
I know Turkish football well and the spirit they have.
They might not be the top level teams like France, Belgium, Germany or Holland, but they can still cause us a lot of problems.
Roberto Mancini, Italy coach
Who’s in and who’s out?
Back in the big time after missing out on World Cup 2018, Italy have a settled side and Mancini is unlikely to dish out any major shocks.
Ageless defender Giorgio Chiellini will be a rock at the back, with Jorginho set to pull the strings in midfield and Ciro Immobile tasked with banging them in.
Turkey were superb in qualifying and will be out to replicate their excellent tournament efforts of 2002 and 2008.
Lille magicians Burak Yilmaz and Yusuf Yazici will reunite after storming Ligue 1 this season, while Caglar Soyuncu, Merih Demiral and Ozan Kabak form a stubborn defensive trio.
Watch out for…
AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu, who has been linked with a big-money move to Arsenal this summer.
Available on a freebie with his contract running out this July at the San Siro, expect Calhanoglu to impress in the shop window.
He registered nine goals and 12 assists for the Rossoneri this campaign – if he brings his A-game from the start, that Italian run of clean-sheets might be in danger.
Calhanoglu is set to be in high demand this summer as he becomes a free agent[/caption]
Italy are one of the favourites of the European Championship.
We want to show our own football against these types of teams. We will play without fear.
Şenol Güneş, Turkey coach
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If the game’s rubbish…
See if you can spot Immobile’s devoted wife Jessica Melena and their three kids in the crowd.
Known as Italy’s power couple, Melena has over 950k followers on Instagram and originally dreamt of being a CSI investigator before meeting Ciro in 2012.
The pair moved in after a WEEK and Jessica is set to be in Rome to cheer on her man in the tournament opener.
Jessica is set to be in Rome to support her husband from the stands[/caption]
She has a huge social media following, with almost 1 million fans on her Instagram[/caption]
The pair were married in 2014 just two years after they met[/caption]
Get all your Euro 2020 ante-post tips with our tournament betting guide HERE.
- Turkey to win 7/1
- The Draw 11/4
- Italy to win 1/2
- Ciro Immobile to score 2 or more – was 9/1 now 11/1
- Ciro Immobile & Burak Yilmaz to have 2 or more shots on target each – was 12/1 now 16/1
Euro 2020 outright odds
- Turkey 66/1
- Italy 15/2