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MANCINI'S REVOLUTION

Too many people are underestimating Italy ahead of Euro 2020 – they haven’t lost a game since 2018

According to bookies, Italy are seventh-favourites to win Euro 2020.

That puts the Azzurri very much in the dark horse category and suggests some may be underestimating their revival in recent times.

Their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, as four-time winners of the trophy, was an unmitigated disaster.

It was the first time Italy had failed to qualify for the most prestigious international tournament since 1958.

They subsequently slipped to 21st in the FIFA world rankings, the lowest ever rank in the proud footballing nation’s history.

For a country who reached the pinnacle of the international game as recently as 2006, it was virtually the end of days in the streets of Rome, Milan and Turin.


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Italy are on the road to redemption

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Italy are on the road to redemption

Roberto Mancini has since galvanised the squad and is quietly setting Italy back on the path to where they feel they belong.

They won all ten games in Euro 2020 qualifying, scoring 37 goals and conceding just four.

Admittedly, they were gifted a favourable group but the professional nature of their clean sweep was impressive nonetheless.

And their positive results have continued to beyond that qualification campaign.

Italy haven’t lost a game since September of 2019, resulting in an undefeated streak of 25 games (and counting).

The Immobile of recent times is a different beast to what we saw in his younger days

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The Immobile of recent times is a different beast to what we saw in his younger days

Their team is characterised by experience in defence in the form of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini and Francesco Acerbi, a host of technically-gifted midfielders in their prime (Marco Verratti, Jorginho, Nicolo Barella, Lorenzo Pellegrini, etc), and one of Europe’s most prolific goalscorers in Ciro Immobile.

Previously misused and unsettled, the 30-year-old reinvigorated his career when he moved to Lazio in 2016.

He’s scored 150 goals in 217 games for the club, including a record-equalling 36-goal league campaign that earned him the Golden Shoe in 2019/20.

In the last two seasons, he’s scored more goals (64) in all competitions than Mohamed Salah (54), Harry Kane (56) and Romelu Lukaku (63).

Immobile is perfectly placed to lead the line for an underrated Italy side this summer.

With Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Andrea Belotti also in fine goalscoring form, Mancini has plenty of firepower to deploy against Turkey, Wales and Switzerland in Group A.

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Immobile’s record of 12 goals in 45 international caps appears modest but that takes into account his past life, before he transformed into the rampant forward we know today.

5 goals in his last nine games for Italy is more reflective of the player we are likely to see at Euro 2020.

At £5.0m Immobile is cheaper than Dream Team Euros’ premier options: Kane (£7.0m), Cristiano Ronaldo (£7.0m), Kylian Mbappe (£7.5m).

At this early stage he has an ownership of 7% which seems low given his undeniable club form, Italy’s favourable group, and the Azzurri’s impressive unbeaten streak.

2018 may have been disappointing low point but the Italians have historically been a formidable outfit at major tournaments.

Dream Team Euros bosses would be wise to reconsider their views on Italy and Immobile in particular.


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