Starting on your home turf with expectations of being in the mix to win Euro 2020 was certainly no easy thing for Roberto Mancini and Italy entering Friday night’s tournament opener. But with the way that they played, you wouldn’t have guessed that this team was feeling the heat at all — even if the summer months in Italy tend to be a little bit on the warm side.
There was little doubt as to who the better team was.
And there was little doubt that the 3-0 final score was indicative of how Italy played.
Once the ball bounced off Merih Demiral’s chest and into his own net, that’s when the ball truly got rolling on this tournament-opening victory for Mancini and Italy. Not that they were bad in the first half because they weren’t — it was more of case of the Azzurri being wasteful more than anything after taking 13 shots — but the second half was one where the boys in the boring Puma kits fully took off and left Turkey in the dust.
Not bad for an opening statement.
Not bad at all.
It might have taken longer than Mancini wanted for the first goal to arrive — and maybe not in the fashion that he was hoping — but the way Italy was commanding the game you had a feeling that a goal was going to come rather than Turkey somehow finding any semblance of offense and actually putting Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci under pressure for an extended period of time rather than just the random counterattack or two.
This was an Italy team that played well, played confidently and looked a lot like the team that Mancini was hoping they would be entering the tournament. Turkey tried like hell to sit back, absorb all of Italy’s pressure and grind out some kind of result. But once the Demiral own goal happened, there was only one team that was feeling good about things — and it was the one playing in its home country.
It was an impressive performance without a doubt. That’s how you start a tournament where expectations are to try and win the whole damn thing. On to the next one, ragazzi.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
- There is nothing untrue in this tweet.
Almost got the total Chiellini experience in that half. Limbs flying all over the place. Driving forward with the ball to everyone's surprise. Hugging a forward after a dive. Multiple outside-of-the-foot passes.— Gianluca Nesci (@GianlucaNesci) June 11, 2021
Just missing the head bandage and his own dive after zero contact.
- Does Merih Demiral hate playing at the Stadio Olimpico? Remember this is the same stadium where he suffered a torn ACL, and now he scores an own goal — which, by the way, was the first time the first goal at the Euros has ever been an own goal. Tough break because I don’t know what else he could have done there.
- Watching Manuel Locatelli and Jorginho ping passes all around the field ... beautiful.
- Obviously in this space of the internet there was a microscope on Locatelli with all of the rumors surrounding him and Juventus’ interest in bringing him to Turin this summer. And if you want any idea of how well he played against Turkey, go back and watch the reception that he got when he was subbed off in the second half. The Stadio Olimpico crowd was loving them some Locatelli. So was the Sassuolo management team that probably saw that price tag to sign Locatelli go up a few more millions.
- See, this is why they’re waiting until AFTER the Euros to negotiate a deal for Locatelli because a strong showing at this tournament — you know, basically playing like he did Friday night going forward the rest of the way — and he’s making Sassuolo even more money when they do sell him this summer.
- Jorginho had 92 touches, completed 94 percent of his passes, had three key passes and bossed it in the midfield. Yeah, that’ll play.
- ... Domenico Berardi led Italy with five key passes?! I didn’t expect that after the first half.
- Hindsight is 20/20, I know, but Leonardo Spinazzola sure has turned into a damn good footballer, hasn’t he? Can’t wait to see him continue to thrive while Luca Pellegrini heads out on another loan spell during the 2021-22 season.
- Gianluigi Donnarumma had to make one save and it wasn’t even a difficult one or one that was 100 percent going to be on frame. That’s it. Pretty good game defensively in front of him, I’ll say.
- It might have only been for a couple of minutes, but the Euros got its first taste of The Wings of Fede. (Let’s just not talk about a couple of those Federico Bernardeschi free kicks that we saw after he came on, though. Deal, deal? Good, very good.)
- I watched this game in Spanish for certain reasons, so that meant I was privy to a good amount of entertaining announcing moments. If you haven’t heard the TUDN call of Ciro Immobile’s goal that put Italy up 2-0, you should because it’s very good.
- A post-game note from the ESPN broadcast here in the U.S.: They asked a guy we know fairly well around here, Alessandro Del Piero, if he liked Italy’s attack-friendly mindset in this game (and overall under Mancini). And while ADP wasn’t on camera when he answered the question, the “Oh yes!” answer he had for studio host Rece Davis had to be accompanied with a smile from ear to ear. Asking one of Italy’s best-ever strikers if he likes an Azzurri team with an attacking mindset ... they put that one on a tee for Ale.
- Insert your “short player lent his car out” jokes for the new prop that brings the ball out to the center circle to begin games at this tournament. (It was very nice of Sebastian Giovinco, though.)
- Those Italy away kits are just so dull.
- Those Italy suit jackets, though ... those are a fashion STATEMENT.
- This was a good win. This was a comfortable win. This was a win where things were never truly in doubt. Where’s Chuks to drop in and talk about match control? Because Italy sure had control of things from opening kickoff to final whistle. Not bad, not bad at all.