Italy continued to impress with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Switzerland in Rome. A brace from Manuel Locatelli proved to be the difference between the two sides, before Ciro Immobile added the icing on the cake. In reality, Italy could have won by a greater margin.
But what did the game teach us? Here are five things 101 picked up on:
1.Italy are no flash in the pan
It was almost tempting to disregard Italy coming into the tournament. Although they had made significant progress from 2018, they were yet to prove themselves against truly top opposition.
They had progressed handsomely through the qualifying rounds, but from a group that included Finland, Greece, Armenia, Lichtenstein and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Hardly equal opposition.
Italy have scored 29 goals since they last conceded.
Defensive kings 👑🇮🇹 pic.twitter.com/7Uyp4bQAy3
— 101 Great Goals (@101greatgoals) June 16, 2021
However, if you didn’t take Mancini’s side seriously after they dismantled Turkey, their comfortable win over Switzerland will have made many sit up and take notice. Not only are they achieving results, but in a most un-Italian way, they are playing attractive football to do so.
2. The back three isn’t working for the Swiss
Switzerland have tended to struggle at championship finals. It has been no different this time around with Euro2020, the side failing to beat Wales despite dominating proceedings, and offering little to threaten the Italians.
Perhaps central to their problems against the Azzurri was the defensive trio that they deployed. Although none of the central defenders played particularly poorly, the tactical choice left Switzerland a man light in midfield, with their two in the centre of the park being bypassed by Italy’s hardworking trio.
We can play so much better than this, but our performances against Wales and Turkey just haven’t been good enough. Weak defensively, invisible in midfield and toothless in attack, what’s going on?#EURO2020 #SUI
— Nischal Schwager-Patel ⭐️⭐️ (@Nischal_SP) June 16, 2021
In turn, the Swiss offered little going forwards, with the wing-backs often failing to get forward fast enough to support any attacks, leaving the strikers starved of service.
There can be no doubts that the Italians were impressive in their dismantling of Switzerland, but the Swiss certainly played into their hands.
3. Turkey aren’t out just yet
Turkey are yet to pick up a point at this tournament, losing 2-0 to Wales earlier. Although they have flattered to deceive so far, they are not yet out of the tournament. Switzerland’s defeat leaves them on one point, and means that whoever wins the game between the two sides is set to go through.
“Turkey are the dark horse of Euro 2020”
The dark horse: pic.twitter.com/moh4NZFjAt
— Footy Humour (@FootyHumour) June 16, 2021
This is providing that they are one of the best four third placed finishers, meaning that Turkey may have to improve their currently negative goal difference. Nevertheless, three points against Switzerland, and they stand a real chance of progressing.
4. Chiellini may have played his last international tournament game
Gorgio Chiellini has been a mainstay of Italy’s defence for the best part of two decades, making 108 appearances for the Azzuri.
The veteran defender endured a tumultuous five minutes in the first half of the game, thinking that he had opened the scoring, only to see his headed effort ruled out for handball.
— Luis Clavijo Flores (@lucho298) June 16, 2021
Just moments later, he was requesting to be substituting, indicating that he had suffered a hamstring problem.
Italy have qualified for the knockout rounds, but depending on the severity of the injury, Chiellini may be forced to watch them from the stands.
Worse still, now 36 this tournament could well be his last, although he will have the Qatar World Cup in his mind. Euro 2024, however, seems out of reach.
5. Locatelli will not be at Sassuolo next season
Manuel Locatelli has been on many clubs’ radars after a stellar season at Sassuolo in the Serie A.
The 23-year-old has played in both of Italy’s opening fixtures, filling in for the tenacious midfielder Marco Verratti, who is currently recovering from injury.
Manuel Locatelli has been one of the best Serie A midfielders so far, not surprising to see him shining at the Euros. 🇮🇹🌟 #Locatelli
Sassuolo always asked €40m to sell him… before this match. Premier League top clubs interested, Allegri wants him at Juventus. Open race.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) June 16, 2021
Two goals against the Swiss have seen him elevated into the spotlight, with both goals showing his armoury of abilities. The first, a goal arriving late from midfield to turn home a cross, whilst the second was a long range strike that left the goalkeeper with no chance.
Valued at 40 million euros by his current club, he appears to be something of a bargain, especially to clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal, who are in severe need of midfield reinforcement.
Where he ends up remains to be seen, but it seems inconceivable that he will remain in the black and green of Sassuolo beyond the summer.
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This article was edited by Tom Canton.