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Italy returns to major competitions after 5 years against Turkey

Italy-ALSHARQIYA   June 11: Five years after its last appearance in major competitions, Italy will return to the scene again when it faces Turkey in the Olympic Stadium in Rome in the first group in the opening of the European Football Championship 2020 tomorrow, Friday.

Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in a national sporting tragedy for the four-time world champion. But since Roberto Mancini took charge, he has built an attractive squad and entered the tournament with the ambition of reaching the final in London, five years after losing on penalties to Germany in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.

Expectations rose quickly on the peninsula and this is understandable after Mancini's side have gone 27 unbeaten in a series since September 2018 and showed their continued development in their 4-0 victory over the Czech Republic in their last pre-final friendly.

Prominent midfielder Marco Verratti will miss the match with a knee injury but is hoping to catch the second match against Switzerland and Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli will likely start in his position. Italy will get a boost from playing three matches at home in front of about 16,000 fans.

"The current Italy team has more potential than the 2016 team, but we have to show that," said defender Alessandro Florenzi. "If we get out of the group stage, the result will be worse than five years ago, and to prove that we are better, we must at least get past the quarter-finals."

But Italy will have a tough start against Turkey, which is resilient and talented and impressed with its qualifying performance against the top teams.

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