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Monday December 2 2019
Italy, watch out for Turkey

Despite Roberto Mancini tipping Wales to be surprise packages at Euro 2020, Livio Caferoglu warns Italy have a bigger threat in their group...

The nation of Italy breathed a huge, collective sigh of relief on Saturday when the draw for the Euro 2020 groups was made. The threat of being paired with World Cup winners France and European champions Portugal was a very real one, but that was instead reserved for Germany. 

Ultimately, the Azzurri were joined in Group A by Turkey, Switzerland and Wales – none of whom are exactly pushovers but neither on the level of the aforementioned trio. CT Roberto Mancini continued his rhetoric of cautious optimism when he was asked about the draw by Radio Anch’io Sport this morning.

“The group is not as easy as everyone is saying,” he said. “But we can be optimistic. I believe all three of them have nothing to lose. They all have good, young players. Switzerland are always plucky. They know Italian football perfectly well. Wales can be surprise packages and Turkey also took four points from France in their group in the qualifiers.”

Indeed, Switzerland almost always seem to somehow make it through the groups, having done so in four of their last eight Finals appearances at the World Cup and European Championship. The tag of ‘surprise packages’ belonged to Wales at Euro 2016, putting 58 years of hurt behind them to reach the semi-finals, losing only to eventual winners Portugal.

That only leaves Turkey, who have a case for being Italy’s biggest threat in the group stage, even if Mancini’s men have home advantage facing them in the opening match of Euro 2020. For a start they are managed by Senol Gunes, who led the Crescent-Stars to third place at the 2002 World Cup – their greatest-ever achievement on the international stage.

The similarities between the two countries are remarkable, speaking as someone of Italian and Turkish extract, and you’d be hard-pressed to find two non-neighbouring nations which identify so much in terms of culture and mentality. Understanding that psyche could be key to a Turkish victory, just as much as it is for a Nazionale one.

On top of that, Turkey have no less than five of their internationals currently plying their trade in the Italian top flight in Hakan Calhanoglu, Merih Demiral and Cengiz Under, as well as summer signings Mert Cetin and Mert Muldur. Demiral and Cengiz can claim to be two of the League’s most impressive young players, while the future certainly looks bright for the two Merts.

There is also the fact that Turkey seem to have carved out a niche as a Euros team. Although they came third in Japan and South Korea some moons ago, they have qualified for four of the last six European Championships, finishing as quarterfinalists in 2000 and cruelly losing to then-winners Germany in stoppages at the last-four stage in 2008.

The two countries have already faced off at a European Championship in 2000. On that occasion, Italy just about scraped a 2-1 victory, courtesy of a slightly-jammy Filippo Inzaghi penalty. In a twist of fate, they lock horns again 20 years later to open this commemorative tournament, albeit at the Olimpico as the Azzurri profit from their status as one of 12 home nations.

The strength in this iteration of the Turkey squad lies at the back, where Demiral is the leader of a defence that includes Leicester City stalwart Caglar Soyuncu and breakout Lille star Zeki Celik, as well as the experienced Hakan Ali Kaldirim. That unit has helped the Turks keep 10 clean sheets in their last 13 games, a run which included a 2-0 win against France and a 1-1 draw.

The art of defending has for so long been synonymous with Italy, but recent results have threatened to buck that trend, with Turkey putting up a convincing fight to take that mantle from them. June 12 promises to be the biggest test yet for Federico Chiesa, Lorenzo Insigne, Andrea Belotti, Ciro Immobile and co. if Mancini’s men are serious about success next summer.

Have your say...
I think Italy will compete well but it's not their turn..we aren't ready... But 2022 WC? Watch out!
on the 10th December, 2019 at 4:27am
Italy have only qualified and apart from a PB of winning 11 in a row have not achieved anything yet. Playing at home is a bonus they must take advantage of. The proof of how good they are will come in June. If Italy can put Turkey to the sword 4-5 nil and clearly top their group, then we can dream of Euro Glory.
on the 7th December, 2019 at 10:39pm
This might be one of the most solid Italian sides I've watched in a long time. Every Turk things they will beat Italy because they beat France at home. I called Italy would win in 2006 and I feel the they will at least make it to the quarters. Italy failed to qualify for the last WC so its time they start to get their rep back. Forza Italia!
on the 6th December, 2019 at 5:56am
Y'all are crazy... so what if the author has some Turkish ancestry? The article is fine. Do you accuse Italian writers of being biased or un-objective when writing about the Azzurri?
on the 4th December, 2019 at 6:13pm
Who would have thought Croatia would make it to the WC final? Or Greece would win the EC. No team should be underestimated. A lot of these so called 'lesser' teams have smartend up now. After all, It was not too long ago when Italy thought they would sweep Sweden aside in the WC playoffs. Look at how that ended!!!
on the 4th December, 2019 at 12:11pm
Group draw debate is way overblown. Would you rather play tough teams in group stage or sudden death. Doesn't matter, if you aim to go all the way you need to face the challenge sooner or later. Look at 1982 road to final, preparation and determination matters, draw irrelevant. Last World Cup England had easy draw but eventually met their fate when they faced formidable team. Let's hope our team plays all games as if they are the final.
on the 4th December, 2019 at 6:08am
We are a young team and inexperienced. Great to see the change with many new and young faces, however, we must not think that this team is anything close to the likes of Germany, France etc.
on the 3rd December, 2019 at 9:51pm
@MM - Why is the article annoying?? He is simply expressing his views. If Turkey is no match for Italy, then there is nothinbg to worry about then or..................is there???
on the 3rd December, 2019 at 12:54pm
Not against Italy, but against Wales & Switzerland Turkey will have a home advantage as well, because they will be playing these games in Azerbaijan (brotherly Turkic nation), where all locals will be cheering for them.
on the 3rd December, 2019 at 10:34am
Strange article and annoying, with the author being part Turkish I cannot view the article as impartial, nor does it read that way. I understand your proud heritage, sure, but this is a professional website where sentiment and personal bias shouldn't come into the equation.

Turkey are a good side with good players, Under and Demiral to name a couple amongst others, they are capable of the quarter finals but they aren't a match for the current Italian team, in any location yet alone in Rome.
on the 3rd December, 2019 at 6:24am
@AMB

The writer has Turkish origins apparent from his last name.
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 9:17pm
Italy won't need to worry about any of the teams in the group, as long as they play to their full potential and don't sit back once they score to take the lead, I don't think Mancini's Italy will they will keep storming forward from all angles and look to score more goals, if they do Turkey and the rest wont have a look in, Q4 at least.
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 8:53pm
@Pinturicchio

The first real tournament I remember is the 1998 World Cup. The first I watched properly is a toss-up between Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup so, of course, I'm aware that Italy are slowburners.

I'm just pointing out that it won't be easy to score against this Turkish defence (assuming they don't suffer any injuries - or lose any of their players to scandals involving firearms and/or love triangles...)
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 8:24pm
Seems people like Luciano or Livio either started watching football 5 years back or are just young Italy fans...

Then they should look at Euro 2004, or most recently Euro 2012... Even the World Cup 2006 we started very slowly, having to beat Pavel Nedved's spirited Czech side to progress...

Yes, we have a very good chance, considering we avoided Germany/France/Spain, but even then acting like QFs is a cakewalk is utterly foolish.

#VivaLaNazionale #ForzaAzzurriPerSempre
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 8:06pm
Hmmm..*looks around the room* nah. They aint no threat. Nice try though. Italy beats them outright.
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 7:34pm
@ACM1899

Totally objective! Turkey have some great prospects coming through, but I still think it's Italy's group to lose.
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 5:57pm
@Livio

Are you being objective or hopelessly patriotic? :) Be honest :)
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 5:21pm
@AMB

Not true! If anything I'm probably more inclined to support Italy...
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 2:49pm
Three homes games and then a last 16 game against Ukraine. C'mon, surely the quarters beckon.
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 2:25pm
Italy will never under-estimate anyone.We have never been presumptuous therefore I find your article slightly annoying.I think you really support Turkey and there is nothing wrong in that but do not think RM is celebrating as he will never do that.The outcome of the game will give its verdict.One thing is for sure, we (I mean Italy and its supporters) will do everything for it to be a good game and wish Italy to win.You just keep supporting Turkey.Don't worry you will not be missed.
on the 2nd December, 2019 at 2:13pm

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