After a year-long delay, the Euros kick off Friday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome with Group A favorite Italy hosting an upstart Turkey side that many pundits consider to be a dark horse this summer.
Italy enters the Euros on a 27-match unbeaten streak that dates all the way back a Nations League loss to reigning Euro champion Portugal in September 2018. However impressive, the Azzurri haven’t faced any side that shares a premier international standing other than the Netherlands and will be coming into the Euros with plenty of pressure to avenge the national embarrassment of missing the 2018 World Cup.
Led by former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, Italy will be sweating on the fitness of PSG teammates Alessandro Florenzi and Marco Verratti, with Inter Milan midfielder Stefano Sensi already ruled out of the tournament due to injury.
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Turkey has also gone unbeaten in six matches in 2021, including a massive win over the Netherlands to open World Cup qualifying. The Turkish team is led by forward Burak Yılmaz, who is fresh off helping Lille to a shock Ligue 1 title with 16 goals.
After the opener in Rome, Turkey will turn Baku, Azerbaijan, into a home base with big games against Wales and Switzerland to round out the group stage. Meanwhile, Italy will remain in Rome for the remainder of the group stage.
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