Team Talk – Group A
Welcome to the second of a seven-part Team Talk blog series which will offer a deep-dive into what to expect from the 2020 Euro’s.
As part of this series we will offer an insight into which teams could cause an upset, the players to keep an eye on, which youngsters could be set to burst onto the scene and drop a few fun facts in here along the way!
We now turn to Group A, which features Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and Wales. These matches will take place across two cities: Baku (Azerbaijan) and Rome (Italy), cities which are just under 4,000km in distance from one another.
Teams in group A are set to rack-up some air miles...
The first team we look at is ‘The Azzuri”, Italy, managed by former Manchester City manager, Roberto Mancini. A manager with plenty of experience, he has already told media not to expect any surprises when he announces his 23-man squad. Certain players within Mancini’s squad pick themselves. There is Ciro Immobile who has been in scintillating form for Lazio during the 2019/20 season, with over 30 goals scored and counting – a contender for the tournament's golden boot.
This will be Italy’s first tournament without legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, but it seems Italy’s goalkeeping position couldn’t be in safer hands with 21-year-old AC Milan keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma stealing headlines since making his debut as a 16-year old in Serie A.
Interesting fact: Italy’s nickname, ‘Gli Azzuri’, comes from the colour of their kit with the phrase translating to English as ‘The Blues’.
The Swiss are ones to keep an eye out for within group A. Switzerland have a habit of under-performing when it comes to the Euros and will be looking to put that right this time around. The side boasts a handful of recognisable names to football fans, Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Xherdan Shaqiri (Liverpool), Stephen Lichtsteiner (Ex-Arsenal) and Fabian Schar (Newcastle).
The Swiss had to overcome Ireland in their group and are capable of pulling off a coup – certainly ones to watch!
Interesting fact: Switzerland have finished bottom of the group at each of the last three European Championship finals they have played in.
It’s very hard to call who will top group A with Turkey also in the mix. The side is captained by midfield veteran Emre Belozoglu, at 39 years old the ex-Newcastle united and AC Milan midfielder is the oldest player in this youthful Turkish side. Another one to watch is Hakan Calhanoglu. Mainly known for his worldie set pieces, Calhanoglu has attracted interest from several Premier League sides in years gone by and Euro 2020 is yet another chance to put himself in the shop window.
Underestimate Turkey at your peril, World Champions France struggled against the Turks in the qualifiers and were unable to defeat them in two attempts, one of which saw Turkey come away with a 2-0 victory.
Interesting fact: The furthest Turkey have gone in the Euros was to the semis in 2008 suffering defeat at the hands of Germany.
The Welsh are underdogs for Group A. The squad does include big stars such as Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey who will be looking to make a similar impact to what they did at the last European Championships in 2016.
One youngster to watch in this squad is Ethan Ampadu, who’s currently on loan at RB Leipzig from Chelsea. At only 19 years of age, he’s making a significant impact at his loan club having impressed against Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League and Chelsea fans will be eagerly anticipating his return to Stamford Bridge.
Interesting fact: Euro 2016 saw Wales best-ever European championships with the side reaching the Semi-Finals.
Group A kick-start the tournament on June 12th with Italy hosting Turkey at the Stadio Olympico, followed by Switzerland v Wales on June 13th.
For more information on where you can watch Euro 2020, head to your local Belushi’s website and secure your space.