11/06/2021; 6:01 PM By : Steven D. Thompson
Euro 2020 finally kicks off tonight after a twelve-month delay because of the Covid 19 virus, in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. With Italy being one of the host nations, they are among the favourites on the bookmakers' boards, alongside England, Belgium and France.
Roberto Mancini’s Italy will want to stretch their 27 match unbeaten streak as far as they can into this tournament. Mancini confirmed that the team spirit in the camp is good going into the tournament opener in front of their home, albeit abbreviated, number of supporters.
They have a mixture of experience and youth, ranging from their 22-year-old shot-stopper Gianluigi Donnarumma to Champions League winner Jorginho in midfield and 31-year-old Lazio striker Ciro Immobile in the forward line.
Turkey also possess a blend of youth and experience in their squad, but opposition teams will be especially wary of their midfield. AC Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu is a German-born midfielder of Turkish ancestry and is the fulcrum around which the remainder of the team operates. He has been linked to Manchester United but that ambition will take a backseat until this tournament has run its course for the Turkish team.
The set-piece specialist is Calhanoglu. is a free-kick specialist with a knuckleball technique reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo. As this tournament progresses, and if the star of Calhanoglu continues to rise, could we see these two superstars come up against each other in the latter stages of the tournament. Calhanoglu qualifying for the Champions League with Milan might just be the beginning of a special summer for the Turkish midfielder.
The first match of Euro 2020 could set the tone for the remainder of the tournament. As mentioned, Italy is one of the hosts, one of the favourites, and unbeaten in their last 27 matches. However, this Turkish team, one of the youngest teams in the tournament, with a miserly defence and a dazzling array of midfield talent, could surprise one of the favourites on day one.