Tenor Andrea Bocelli roused the Roman crowd ahead of kick-off with Nessun Dorma, then the Italian national side gave them what they came for — an impressive opening win at Euro 2020.
“It was important to start well and it’s satisfying for us, for the crowd and for all Italians,” coach Roberto Mancini said of the 3-0 win over Turkey. “It was a wonderful evening and I hope there will be many more.”
Mancini took over a devastated national team in 2018 after they had failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, and rebuilt it with a blend of youth and experience. After the Turkey match, his project is well and truly in the shop window.
A total of 16,000 people attended the game, which is 25 per cent of the Stadio Olimpico’s capacity, and was the biggest gathering in Italy since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkey came to spoil the party and defended resolutely for the first half to deny Italy. But after the break, the Italians broke them down.
Merih Demiral became a future quiz question as he scored the tournament’s first goal — in his own net, following relentless pressure from the Italians.
From then on, the game opened up and Italy could play the gorgeous flowing football that has become their call sign under Mancini.
Ciro Immobile added a second with a poacher’s finish from a rebound, before Lorenzo Insigne rounded off the win by finishing a classy team goal.
“We played a great match and we didn’t permit Turkey to play, and they are not a weak side,” the coach said.
What should worry the rest of the Euros contenders, aside from an Italian side that is willing to play attacking football, is the numbers the Azzurri are racking up.
It’s hard not to consider them a serious contender when you look at their recent record:
- 28 games undefeated
- Have not lost since 2018
- 100 per cent record in qualifying (10 wins from 10; 37 goals for, four against)
- Now the first side in footballing history to win nine games in a row without conceding a single goal
- 3-0 was Italy’s biggest win ever in European Championship final
- It was also the biggest-ever margin in a Euros opening match
Matching the big sides like Belgium or France will be another matter entirely, but if Italy can make it through to the late stages of Euro 2020, they will clearly have tremendous momentum behind them.