Italy will hope to secure qualification to the knockout rounds when they take on Switzerland at Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.
The second matchday of the UEFA Euro 2020 gets underway on Wednesday, with Italy hosting Switzerland in the late-night encounter, at the majestic Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
After producing a dominant performance against Turkey in the tournament’s curtain-raiser, the spirits are high in the Italian camp. Another win in either of their remaining two fixtures should be enough to guarantee their qualification to the knockout rounds, though the priority for Roberto Mancini’s men will be to top group A.
Italy’s midweek opponent Switzerland were not particularly convincing in their opener against Wales. Although they dominated the game, for the most part, a late goal from Kieffer Moore saw them drop two valuable points that might be costly, especially if Vladimir Petkovic’s men fail to squeeze at least a point against Italy.
A lot will depend on the result of the game between Wales and Turkey earlier in the afternoon, not only for Switzerland but for Italy as well, knowing it will significantly improve their chances of topping the group.
The Azzurri did extremely well to handle the attacking pressure from Turkey in their opening game. However, Switzerland have more skilled attackers at their disposal, as well as more tactical flexibility, making this a stern test for the tournament favourites.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two nations ahead of this Group A encounter at Stadio Olimpico this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
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Roberto Mancini has very little reason to tinker with the setup that dominated Turkey in the opening game. The experienced defensive presence of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini has held up pretty well, and may once again get the nod ahead of the likes of Alessandro Bastoni, Francesco Acerbi and Rafael Toloi.
The full-backs should remain unchanged as well, considering how well Alessandro Florenzi and Leonardo Spinazzola performed in the last game. The duo is expected to make marauding runs forward in an attempt to not only destabilise the Swiss backline but also create numerical superiority in the final third.
The attacking nature of the full-backs, though, will force Jorginho to act as an auxiliary central defender. The onus will be on him to screen the central defensive pairing, though the additional defensive cover will be provided by the excellent ball-winner Manuel Locatelli.
Nicolo Barella should complete the three-man midfield. The Inter Milan starlet will be tasked with a more attacking role, due to his excellent ball-carrying abilities. His partnership with Spinazzola on the left-hand side could go a long way in helping Italy ease their transition play.
And finally, in the attacking third of the game, Mancini is likely to retain the services of the two wingers in Domenico Berardi and Lorenzo Insigne.
The two wide players love to cut inside, which goes hand in hand with the overlapping full-backs the Azzurri have at their disposal. Berardi is a particular threat when it comes to cutting inside before getting to the byline to provide dangerous close range crosses for star striker Ciro Immobile.
Mancini has no shortage of reinforcements either, with Federico Chiesa, in particular, hoping to impress with a cameo off the bench. It remains an open competition between him and Berardi for the right-wing slot while the more feisty Andrea Belloti is an alternative for Immobile.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Locatteli, Jorginho, Barella; Berardi, Immobile, Insigne
Switzerland produced a wasteful performance in front of goal in their game against Wales. Haris Seferovic, in particular, was disappointing, to say the least.
And as the Rossocrociati brace themselves for the stern test of Italy, Vladimir Petkovic faces a wide range of selection dilemmas. Switzerland’s best option in this game will be to settle for a draw before going all out in the last game against Turkey.
Therefore, Petkovic might consider switching to a 3-5-2 by cutting off Seferovic. Instead, he could deploy Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo as leaders of the Swiss attack.
This little manoeuvre should allow the Switzerland head coach to bring Denis Zakaria into the fray. The Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder could join Granit Xhaka and Remo Freuler in the second line of press, forming an ideal answer to Italy’s midfield trifecta.
Zakaria and Freuler are excellent ball-winners, while Xhaka can offer the passing and assurance in possession. It should create a nice overall balance in the team, though it does mean the team will remain reliant on wing-backs Kevin Mbabu and Ricardo Rodriguez to offer the creativity for the attackers.
Defensively, Petkovic is not expected to tinker with the tried and tested back three of Fabian Schar, Nico Elvedi and Manuel Akanji. All of these defenders are very useful in set-piece situations, so it will be interesting to see whether Switzerland employ a more generic, set-pieces oriented approach in order to break the shackles of the Italian defence this midweek.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sommer; Schar, Elvedi, Akanji; Mbabu, Zakaria, Xhaka, Freuler, Rodriguez; Shaqiri, Embolo
- Italy have a stellar record against Switzerland, securing 28 wins in 58 matches while only facing six defeats.
- In 33 matches in charge of the Italian national team, Roberto Mancini has lost just twice (W24 D7), posting a highly impressive win percentage of 72.
- Switzerland’s draw with Wales brought an end to Rossocrociati‘s six-game winning streak that dated back to November 2020.
Players in Focus
Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)
Amid all the hype surrounding the likes of Ciro Immobile and Federico Chiesa, Italy’s main weapon is Lorenzo Insigne. He is the creative lynchpin that plays a key role in offering his side the dynamism they required in the final third. His quick feet and trickery, combined with his eye for goal do indeed make him one of Italy’s best attackers.
After a majestic display against Turkey, Insigne will be hoping to continue his excellent run of form and perhaps even extend his scoring tally. His duel with the imposing Fabian Schar on the right flank will be one to keep an eye on in this enticing match-up at the Stadio Olimpico this midweek.
Breel Embolo (Switzerland)
Breel Embolo looked like a man on a mission in Switzerland’s opening game against Wales. While fellow attackers like Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic struggled to provide any threat going forward, the Borussia Monchengladbach forward looked unplayable at times, particularly with his quick feet and the ability to deceive the opposing defenders with his clever turns.
Embolo, therefore, will undoubtedly be the focal point of the Swiss attack this midweek, especially if Vladimir Petkovic starts without Seferovic. His pace on the break serves as a huge threat for the ageing duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, making him the one to keep an eye on, for the Rossocrociati.
Italy 1-0 Switzerland
Switzerland promise to be a much tougher test for Italy than Turkey. Vladimir Petkovic’s men have a far better and more disciplined defensive unit that can neutralise their inverted wingers, while the additional presence of two defensively astute wing-backs could make life difficult for the likes of Alessandro Florenzi and Leonardo Spinazzola.
The key for the Azzurri will be to navigate through Switzerland’s second line of press comprising excellent ball-winners. However, it is fair to point out that Switzerland do not have the best of attacks, so we are expecting the hosts to keep a clean sheet as well as securing a narrow victory in this crucial Group A encounter on Wednesday.