Italy should face their Euro 2020 opponents with confidence after an impressive qualifying campaign but they should also be wary of them and not become the slightest bit complacent.
Coach Roberto Mancini has created a young team with a proactive approach to the game but his side cannot take anything for granted after missing out on the 2018 World Cup.
Italy have been drawn in Group A with Turkey, Switzerland, and Wales for Euro 2020 and the Azzurri open the tournament against the Crescent Stars on Friday June 12 at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Facing the Turks could be a tricky proposition as they finished only two points behind France in Group H of qualifying, conceded just three goals in 10 matches, and also took four points off Les Bleus when the two nations faced each other.
Turkey are coached by Senol Gunes, who guided them to third place at the 2002 World Cup, and he will be in charge during their fifth appearance at the Euros. There are some players in the squad that will be familiar to Serie A fans too such as Juventus defender Merih Demiral, Roma winger Cengiz Under, and AC Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu.
History does favour Italy enormously in this encounter as they have won seven games and drawn three times in 10 matches against the Turkish, which includes a 2-1 victory at Euro 2000. The current side might cause some difficulty but the Italians can take confidence from their previous clashes.
The Azzurri will then play Switzerland on June 17 in their second match at Euro 2020 and Rossocrociati coach Vladimir Petkovic will be known to Italian supporters for his spell on the Lazio bench from 2012 until 2014.
Finishing one point above Denmark in Group D qualifying, the Swiss are not a team filled with star-studded names but they have made regular appearances at major tournaments since the turn of the century, with Euro 2012 being one of the exceptions.
Clashes between Italy and Switzerland date as far back as May 1911, when the two sides drew 2-2 in a friendly in Milan, but the Azzurri have won most of the others, winning 28 out of 58 games and they have not lost against the Swiss since 1993, so another Italian victory should be likely.
Italy’s final opponent for the group stage Wales will be appearing at the Euros for just the second time in their history but they surprised everyone at Euro 2016 by reaching the semi-finals.
The Welsh might have a tougher time this time around if their record in qualifying is anything to go by. They finished second behind Croatia in Group E and conceded just six goals but they only scored 10 times while Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, and Kieffer Moore finished as their leading goalscorers with two goals apiece.
None of the matches between the two sides have ended in draws, with the Azzurri winning on seven occasions and the Dragons winning twice, including a 2-1 victory against the Italians in the Euro 2004 qualifiers.
Although Wales are arguably the easiest of Italy’s three opponents and have struggled to score prolifically, Ramsey and Bale are capable of turning a game around when they are fully fit so the June 21 fixture should not be treated as a walk on the park if progression to the Round of 16 is not sealed yet.
Bale has been involved in 20 out of 46 competitive goals for his country since the start of 2015 with 16 goals and four assists, while Ramsey was involved in half of Wales’ goals at Euro 2016, scoring once and providing four assists.
After the embarrassing failure to qualify for Russia 2018, Italy cannot afford to take any opponent likely, but with the record they have against their Group A opponents, they should be confident about their chances of progressing to the knockout stages of the Euro 2020.