Italy will kickstart their preparation for the upcoming European Championship when they take on Czech Republic in a friendly on Friday.

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.

Team News & Tactics

Italy

The last friendly against San Marino saw Mancini primarily use his lesser-used players, and so this being the last warm-up match before Euro, we can expect the former Manchester City coach to give a run out to some of his best players.

Alessandro Bastoni, for one, is tipped for a start in central defender, as he looks to partner Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of Italy’s four-man backline. A lot will be on the shoulders of the young defender from Inter, who is being tipped as the future of the Italian defence.

Leonardo Spinazzola and Giovanni Di Lorenzo are set to complete the back-four, as it hopes to protect Gianluigi Donnarumma in goal. It will be an important game for the highly talented goalkeeper, who is set to depart AC Milan in the summer.

In midfield, Mancini might want to favour Manuel Locatelli in the holding midfield role, as he looks to extend Jorginho’s leave after featuring in the Champions League final. Locatelli, therefore, may partner Bryan Cristante and Nicolo Barella in the three-man midfield, though the two are expected to operate in a more advanced role.

Barella’s link-up play with Federico Chiesa, in particular, could be integral to Italy’s chance creation. The same applies to Spinazzola and Lorenzo Insigne on the opposite flank, as they look to provide support for central striker Giacomo Raspadori, tipped to receive his debut after being surprisingly called into the Italian side.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Bastoni, Spinazzola; Barella, Locatelli, Cristante; Chiesa, Raspadori, Insigne

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Czech Republic

Much like Italy, Czech Republic, too, are expected to field a strong lineup – one that may even start in their first game against Scotland in Euro 2020.

Jaroslav Silhavy has some exciting players at his disposal, perhaps none more so than Patrick Schick, who is expected to spearhead the attack ahead of Matej Vydra and Tomas Pekhart

Things do get interesting in the wider positions, where Silhavy needs to find an able replacement for Lukas Provod. Adam Hlozek is a genuine contender, ahead of Antonin Barak while Jakub Jankto should continue on the opposite flank, as these two attempt to service Schick upfront.

In midfield, Silhaly has to choose between Barak and Vladimir Darida in the number ten/number eight hybrid, just ahead of the double-pivot of Tomas Holes and Tomas Soucek – the heartbeat of the Czechia side.

Defensively, another West Ham star guaranteed to start is Vladimir Coufal in the right-back position, with David Zima, Ondrej Celustka and Jan Boril completing the backline that will protect Jiri Pavlenka in goal.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Vaclik; Coufal, Zima, Celustka, Boril; Holes, Soucek, Darida; Hlozek, Schick, Jankto

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Key Stats

  • These two sides last met back in 2013. in the European qualifiers of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Italy won that affair 2-1, thanks to goals from Giorgio Chiellini and Mario Balotelli.
  • Despite Italy’s fame though, that was only their second win over Czech Republic in six encounters. (2W, 2L, 2D)
  • The Azurri have secured 2-0 victories in all of their last five matches in all competition.
  • Roberto Mancini’s men have also missed just one clean sheet in their last nine matches.
  • Czech Republic, in contrast, have kept only two clean sheets in their last 15 matches.

Player to Watch

Adam Hlozek

Adam Hlozek has made major headlines in Europe this season with his performances with Sparta Prague this past season. At the age of just 18, the attacker scored 15 goals in just 18 matches while his overall work rate, attacking awareness and speed have mesmerised football analysts across the footballing world.

Hlozek has already won two caps for Czech Republic, and a solid performance against Italy could go a long way in helping him become one of the first-team regular for his country in the upcoming Euro.

The coveted competition will give the youngster an ideal platform to showcase his abilities, perhaps even earning a big-money move to a top club in the summer. Hlozek, therefore, is definitely the one to look out for, in this rather interesting friendly in Bologna.

Prediction

Italy 2-0 Czech Republic

Italy are the undisputed favourites in this encounter as they have the home advantage and are coming on the back of an interesting run of form. Mancini has managed to add that belief among the Azurri camp that will be pivotal not only in this friendly but also in the upcoming Euro.

Czech Republic do have a strong attacking unit, as well as a solid midfield setup, led brilliantly by the likes of Holes, Soucek and Darida, but their defence could let them down on Friday.

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