Title contenders Italy conclude their preparations for Euro 2020 on Friday, as they meet fellow finalists Czech Republic in Bologna. Having finalised their squad following last week’s thumping of San Marino, the Azzurri now have one final fixture to warm up for this summer’s main event. Italy coach Roberto Mancini named his final 26-man squad for Euro 2020 earlier this week, as his in-form side ready themselves for the challenge of contesting Group A with Switzerland, Turkey and Wales in the coming weeks.
Ahead of opening their quest for continental glory at Stadio Olimpico against Turkey next week, Mancini further whittled down his provisional selection after a training camp at Coverciano and a 7-0 win over neighbouring San Marino. Of course, former Slavia pair Vladimir Coufal and Tomas Soucek – now starring in the Premier League with West Ham United – have been at the heart of the Czech revival, which saw them beat England in qualifying and win their Nations League group last year. Additionally, Hammers transfer target Alex Kral (currently at Spartak Moscow) has impressed since leaving the national champions.
Having contributed to the defensive instability which effectively wrecked Roma’s season this spring, Gianluca Mancini was among the men to miss out, along with Everton’s Moise Kean, Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina and Napoli winger Matteo Politano. Now looking ahead to Friday’s fixture at Stadio Renato Dall’Ara, former Manchester City manager Mancini will be aware that expectation is growing throughout the peninsula. Since taking the reins in May 2018, he has the highest win rate of any Italy manager – coming out on top in over two-thirds of his 28 games to date – and his new-look Azzurri have rattled in 67 goals and conceded just 14 during the process.
With the ink still drying on a new contract that runs until 2026, Mancini has so far made a success of bouncing back from the bitter humiliation of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Italy have since eased to qualification for both the Euros and the semi-finals of the ongoing Nations League; also claiming three wins from three on the road to Qatar 2022, while extending their unbeaten home record in World Cup qualifiers to 56 games. In all, the four-time world champions have gone undefeated during their last 25 outings, so will want to avoid breaking such momentum against the Czechs this week, whatever the strength of their starting XI.
Italy head coach Roberto Mancini will have his only opportunity to experiment with his squad ahead of the Euro 2020, as his team go head to head with Czech Republic in an international friendly on Friday. This game will be hosted at Bologna’s Renato Dall’Ara, with the Azurris set to travel to Rome shortly after the game, where they will host all three of the group games in Euro 2020. Despite the habit of disappointing in major international competitions lately, Italy have been in good form heading into the tournament. They started their World Cup qualifying campaign with three back to back wins over Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania.
Mancini’s men also secured a massive 7-0 victory over San Marino in the latest friendly, at the end of last month. Their opponent, Czech Republic in contrast, have had a mixed start to the qualifying campaign, starting with a 6-2 thrashing over Estonia before losing 1-0 to Wales in a must-win encounter. Jaroslav Silhavy’s troops, though, will hope to shift their attention to the upcoming Euro by securing a win over Italy in this friendly. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this match-up this Friday.