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Italy made a statement.
Roberto Mancini’s men were the first to qualify for the round of 16 of the European Championship On Wednesday and judging by their most recent form, it should come as no surprise.
The Azzurri took 10 trot wins as they swept past Switzerland and have scored 31 goals since they last conceded. You have scored 59 goals and conceded only three goals in the last 19 games. They are unbeaten in 29 games in which they have scored 80 goals. No wonder they are full of hunger and desire.
The numbers all seem to be in Italy’s favor. How far can you go as the tournament develops?
“You are a winning machine”
Italy’s bold approach led the Italians to score three goals in two consecutive games at a European Championship for the first time when they swept aside both Turkey and Switzerland.
The nature of these victories made their day as one of the before the tournament Favorites.
“They were in control from start to finish and they look like a team to watch out for,” former Everton midfielder Leon Osman told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“The bigger nations will wonder what they are like when they don’t have the ball, but they look very, very good offensive.
“They’re a winning machine but they haven’t played against the really big guys if you look at them closely. If you look at Italy for competition, they haven’t been tested yet. The top guys will do that.”
Former Manchester United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Roy Keane also praised the Italian team on ITV.
“What I like about these top teams is that they are progressing very well, but that’s what they do without possession and close teams – the desire and the rate of work.
“When you have good possession of the ball and you have that hunger and desire, you will get to places.”
Gianluca Zambrotta, who reached the Euro 2000 final with Italy, added: “Before tonight there were high expectations and now there are even more. Folks, keep playing with that attitude and let’s dream.”
“You like to be outside and like to take risks”
With Italy comfortably at the top of their group, Mancini was optimistic about his side’s chances but admitted that there will be tough tests.
“In the EM there are France, Portugal and Belgium – one of them is world champion, another is European champion and the other is number one in the world rankings,” said the Italy boss.
“These are teams that have been built up over a number of years and of course are further ahead than we are, but anything can happen in football, nothing should be taken for granted.
“Every game is difficult. You always have to go out and play. I’ve been fortunate to have some very good players who love to play the game – they like to be outside and like to take risks.”
“The players deserve the credit. I’m trying to explain my thought process and there is still a long way to go.”
Is everything according to plan?
Time will tell if Italy has the firepower to advance in the knockout stage, but little has gone wrong for Mancini’s team so far.
Ciro Immobile has scored in each of his last three games to fend off questions about his international goal record ahead of the tournament.
And Manuel Locatelli, who replaced the injured Marco Verratti, was the star of the show against the Swiss with two goals.
The only minor negative aspect of a dominant Italian performance was an injury to captain Giorgio Chiellini, who hobbled after 24 minutes with a suspected hamstring strain.
“It’s a big concern. Hopefully it’s not too serious, but at 36 it doesn’t look good for the rest of the tournament,” former French midfielder Patrick Vieira said on ITV.
‘Italy is a pleasure to see’ – the social reaction
David James: Real estate strike was great. More curl and dip than the Blackpool roller coaster.
Ronnie Carvery: Call me biased, but only when Italy is playing is the national anthem an essential part of the game. Forza Italy.
Rachel T: The team with the best equipment usually wins. This is Italy.
Carl Pfeilschmied: I actually think Italy could win the tournament.
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