Roberto Mancini’s side made a statement in their opening game against Turkey and are now becoming favourites for many after another impressive display at Stadio Olimpico that saw Manuel Locatelli start and finish a brilliant move to open the scoring in first-half.
The Azzurri extended their advantage in the second half, as Locatelli and Ciro Immobile confirmed Italy as the first nation in the next round of the tournament.
Story of the Match
Mancini was forced into one change to the side that faced Turkey in the opening game of Euro 2020, with Giovanni Di Lorenzo replacing Alessandro Florenzi after he came off at half-time last Friday. Marco Verratti still unavailable for Italy due to a knee injury as Locatelli remain in the starting eleven.
Italy, once again, started the game at a high tempo, and Immobile was close to breaking the deadlock within ten minutes. Leonardo Spinazzola broke free on the left-hand side and his cross picked out Lazio forward in the box, but Immobile couldn’t direct his header on target.
Mancini’s men had to wait until the 53rd minute before breaking down Turkey’s low-block, but that wasn’t a problem against Switzerland as Giorgio Chiellini thought he had opened the scoring. He rose the highest from a corner, but the ball dropped at his feet to fire in, however, it was quickly overturned by VAR after they spotted a handball in the build-up.
The veteran defender evening went from bad to worse after he was forced to depart the game in the 20th minute due to a potential hamstring injury, with Lazio’s Francesco Acerbi replacing him.
But the departure of their captain didn’t unsettle the momentum, and just a minute later, in-demand Locatelli rounded off a fantastic move by the Azzurri to break the deadlock in Rome, with VAR not overturning the goal this time.
Locatelli started the play with a superb ball out wide to Domenico Berardi, who charged and darted past his man before pulling a low cross back to the arriving Locatelli to finish.
The midfield trio of Locatelli, Jorginho and Nicola Barella completely outrun Switzerland’s midfield, but had one opportunity in the dying seconds to force Gianluigi Donnarumma into some action. Kevin Mbabu charged forward for the visitors but doesn’t show any composure in trying to pick out a team-mate, sending a low ball into the box and Di Lorenzo, whilst under pressure, stepped over the ball and regathered possession.
Italy doubled their lead in the 50th minute, and once again, it was Locatelli - who has never scored two goals in one game in his career before tonight. The midfielder is fed the ball on the edge of the box, took one touch, and rifled a shot into the bottom corner, leaving Yann Sommer rooted to his spot.
Mancini’s men entered the game against Switzerland without conceding in their last nine games, and Donnarumma was motivated to extend that to ten games after he was forced into his first save around the hour mark. Steven Zubler was fed down the left in the box and tried an effort that the Azzurri keeper saved with his feet and palmed away the resulting cross.
Immobile opened his account in major international tournaments after scoring the second goal versus Turkey, but the Lazio forward had a relatively quiet game until the 70th minute against Switzerland. The 31-year-old was released down the left and positioned himself well for the shot, but his effort went wide of the far post.
Petkovic seemed to accept defeat in the final 15 minutes by taking Xherdan Shaqiri off the pitch, with eyes firmly focused on the game against Turkey on Sunday.
The Azzurri grabbed their third goal of the evening, putting the icing on the cake, and Immobile finally got his reward after a low shot from range that Sommer got a hand to but could only push it further into the bottom corner.
If it wasn’t already before, that goal banished any concerns and officially secured Italy’s place in the knockout stages of Euro 2020 as they cruised to victory over Switzerland.
Man of the Match
The Sassuolo midfielder grabbed the headlines in their opening day win, now will undoubtedly be on the front pages of Italian newspapers in the morning after a dominant display against Switzerland.
Locatelli was part of the three-man midfield that overran the Swiss, showing his ball-playing abilities in the first goal by sending a lofted ball over to the right but was determined to get inside the box and converted Berardi’s cross. His second goal was just a thing of beauty that left Sommer rooted.
The midfielder has been linked to a few European giants this summer, and today’s performance has certainly added a few more Euro’s to his pricetag.