Game on: Euro 2020 kicks off with Turkey vs Italy in Rome
Turkey vs Italy
- First match of Euro 2020 kicks off at 8pm
- Italy and Turkey are joined by Switzerland and Wales in Group A
- Italy are unbeaten in 27 games
- Turkey have won four and drawn two of their last six
- Italy have won each of their last eight games
20 mins: Italy are starting to turn the screw.
They’re pressing high up the field, winning the ball early and pushing Turkey back on their heels. Leonardo Bonucci’s long-range effort goes wide, then Ciro Immobile’s shot hits Soyuncu and the referee waves away Italy’s penalty claims for handball.
Then, from a corner, Azzurri skipper Chiellini almost finds the top corner with a thumping header which is brilliantly saved by Cakir in the Turkey goal.
17 mins: Best chance of the game so far as Lorenzo Insigne finds space down the left channel, opens his body up and tries to find the far corner.
But he couldn’t quite get enough swerve on his effort, which flew comfortably wide of the post.
Penalty shout: Ciro Immobile’s protests fall on deaf ears
15 mins: “It’s been a good start to the game,” said BBC co-commentator Jermaine Jenas, and he’s right.
There’s a pace and intensity about the game so far, even though legitimate goal opportunities have been at a premium so far.
Wales will be particularly interested observers as they run the rule over their fellow Group A rivals. So far it’s been competitive, and a little bit niggly, but the goalkeepers haven’t had much to do so far.
0 mins: After our first piece of Euro 2020 ludicrousness – a remote-controlled car delivered the match ball to the centre spot – we’re off and underway in Rome.
There’s a cracking atmosphere inside the stadium as the tournament gets underway amid firecrackers and smoke. But will the match catch fire this evening? Let’s hope so.
The teams line up ahead of kick-off in Rome
7:55pm: THE TEAMS ARE OUT!
To paraphrase NFL RedZone’s Scott Hanson, thirty days of top-level Euro 2020 football starts now!
But who will we be talking about over our morning coffee tomorrow?
Will we be talking up Italy’s prospects as a real threat this summer, or will be recapping an historic Turkish performance?
Settle in. This one could get fiesty.
Pre-match omens: Italy
If Turkey are looking to overcome history, Italy are simply looking to keep their momentum rolling.
The Azzurri are undefeated in their last 27 games, and have won each of their last eight matches.
The traditional qualities of Italian football have shone through in those eight wins, as the side has kept clean sheets in every match, with their back line marshalled by no-nonsense centre back Giorgio Chiellini, a throwback to the hard-man Italian stoppers of decades past.
Boss Roberto Mancini will be hoping that his side can add goals on top of that defensive stability to make his team legitimate threats to win the whole tournament.
Throwback defender: Giorgio Chiellini is cut from the same cloth as the great defenders of the past
Pre-match omens: Turkey
Turkey will be looking to break an unwanted run against Italy, who have been something of a nemesis over the years.
Turkey have never beaten the Azzurri, but have only encountered Italy once in a major tournament.
They’ll also be looking to end another negative stat, with Turkey’s four previous opening games at European Championships all ending in defeat.
Will that run continue tonight, or can Senol Gunes’ side start a new era with an historic victory?
Ending a hoodoo? Turkey head coach Senul Gones hopes to overcome history tonight against Italy
7:00pm: The teams are in!
Much will be expected of Lille’s veteran striker Burak Yilmaz up front for Turkey, who will operate in a lone striker role after injury ruled Cenk Tosun out of the tournament.
Italy, meanwhile, have selected a pair of attacking full-backs to give extra impetus to the side moving forward, while Manuel Locatelli deputises for the injured Marco Verratti in midfield.
TURKEY (4-1-4-1): Cakir; Zeki Celik, Demiral, Soyuncu, Meras; Yokuslu; Karaman, Tufan, Yazizi, Calhanoglu; Yilmaz
ITALY (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Locatelli; Berardi, Immobile, Insigne
Turkey and Italy fans get the party started in Rome ahead of kick-off
6:20pm: Turkey’s head coach Senol Gunes says he hopes his side can “cause confusion” from the very start of the tournament by upsetting the Group A favourites.
“The result we get in the first match is important; a draw or a win can cause confusion in the group,” he told UEFA.com
“I hope so. I want to see our strength in the first match; even if we lose, it’s important to play well.
“I hope it’s going to be a great game, an enjoyable game, and that we win!”
His opposite number, former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, was typically cagey ahead of the opening match of the tournament, but he said he wanted his team to play without pressure as their campaign gets underway with many fancying the Azzurri to go a long way in the tournament.
“We must respect Turkey, they are a side full of talent,” he said.
“The opener is always difficult, and there will be plenty of emotions, but you can’t get too carried away.
“I don’t think there is an excess of enthusiasm. The fans can have that; we know who we are up against.
“The desire to be protagonists at this Euro is huge but this is a match to be played with lightheartedness. We can do it!”
6:08am: Tonight’s matchup will feature two teams in excellent form. Turkey are unbeaten from their last six outings, having won four and drawn two of their recent fixtures.
Italy, however, are in ominously strong form heading into the tournament. They’ve won each of their last eight matches, and will be hoping to kick off their Euro 2020 campaign with a ninth straight win tonight.
6:00pm: Good evening, and welcome to Express Sport’s live coverage of the opening match of Euro 2020, as Turkey take on Italy in Rome.
Per the draw, Turkey are technically the “home” side, but it’s Italy who will be playing on home soil, with the match taking place at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
We’ll bring you live updates throughout the night as we bring you the first night of 30 glorious days of top-level international football.