Italy are football royalty, but having failed to qualify for the World Cup four years ago, Roberto Mancini’s men have a lot of ground to make up if they are to take Euro 2020 by storm.
The Azzurri enter Euro 2020 with a team that breaks many of the stereotypes typically associated with Italian national teams. Manager Roberto Mancini has eschewed the catenaccio style of many of his predecessors and has focused on building a unit of young, attacking players who often play more fluidly when playing for their national team than with their respective clubs.
So far, Mancini’s methods have worked: Italy won all 10 of their qualifying matches and are now on a 25-match unbeaten streak, with a chance to beat the national all-time record of 30 games during this summer’s tournament.
Odds of 11/1 make them a semi-longshot for outright tournament victory, behind powerhouses such as France, England, Spain and Belgium, not to mention Germany and Portugal. Those odds widen to 7/2 if you’re betting on Italy making it to the Euro 2020 final, while a bet on Italy reaching the semis will return 9/5 and them reaching the quarter finals is set at about 8/13.
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In goal, Italy can boast one of the continent’s finest goalkeepers in Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has already amassed 25 caps and a wealth of experience at just 22 years of age.
Experience in Italy’s side comes mainly from the defensive end of the pitch, where the Juventus pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci continue to marshal Italy’s defence despite a combined age of 70. Should Chiellini’s ageing body break down, expect Lazio captain Francesco Acerbi to step in.
Mancini tends to field a 4-3-3 formation, and from the midfield up this is a team that is entirely his creation.
Chelsea’s Jorginho, fresh of the recent Chelsea Champions League win, is the team’s regista and a vital component in the Italian chessboard. He dictates the game’s tempo from deep in his own half and will be a key piece for Mancini.
Marco Verratti would traditionally kit up alongside Jorginho, but the PSG midfielder’s Euro 2020 participation is in doubt following a knee injury. That paves the way for Manuel Locatelli, Sassuolo’s young captain who usually deputizes for Jorginho, to earn a starting spot.
Italy’s other midfield starter is likely to be Nicolo Barella, whose stock has skyrocketed following a breakthrough season with Serie A champions Inter that saw him crowned Serie A midfielder of the year.
Up front, Italy will hope that Federico Chiesa can reproduce his Juventus form in national team colours. A natural right winger, Chiesa has show that he can play down the left, freeing up space on the right for Domenico Berardi to occupy and cut in from.
Napoli fan favourite Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi will provide cover for those two.
Expect Torino talisman Andrea Bellotti and Lazio front man Ciro Immobile to jostle for a starting spot as Italy's centre-forward, with Immobile likely to get the nod despite scoring just three goals in nine qualifying matches.
There was no space in Italy’s squad for Everton’s young forward Moise Kean, who did not make the cut.
Italy enter Euro 2020 on a high and without the crippling weight of expectation that often comes with the Azzurri jersey. That could help them see off Turkey, Switzerland and Wales at the group stages – a round Italy often struggles with at major tournaments.
Mancini’s team also has significant depth, and that can be a major advantage at tournaments held at the end of a long season. Defenders such as Bastoni and Acerbi would be starters elsewhere, while playing for Italy they’re next in line to get minutes. Italy’s depth at a number of positions should keep them competitive almost no matter what happens in the tournament.
This is a young team with some very old players, and that combination could prove fatal to Italy’s Euro 2020 chances. A host of Italy players will be making their debut at an international tournament and their inexperience could come back to haunt them. The team’s more veteran members, meanwhile, showed signs of their age during the past season.
Italy’s squad is also not quite top shelf in some key positions. At right back, Mancini continues to rely on Emerson Palmieri and Alessandro Florenzi, despite Emerson making just two Premier League appearances for Chelsea and Florenzi flattering to deceive at PSG. And up front, Immobile and Bellotti provide plenty of heart and running energy but lack the killer instinct that world-class strikers offer.
Italy enter Euro 2020 in an awkward spot for betting enthusiasts. Their football pedigree and qualification record mean they cannot be discarded as potential winners, but their inexperience also makes them unlikely to last the distance. Mancini’s team is probably not going to be at the forefront of many people’s betting strategies, though their defensive solidity could make them a smart bet for a spot in the semi-finals.
We think most people would be better off betting on a true Euro 2020 favorite, but placing a bet on the Azzurri as a medium longshot could definitely be part of a winning betting strategy for anyone looking to get value in the Outright Winner betting category.