Turkey vs Italy – Euro 2020 Preview
So here we are, the opening game of Euro 2020 taking place half way through 2021. Though I’m sure there won’t be many complaints as the majority of Football fans will be happy to see major tournament football back on our screens. We feel this promises to be an entertaining and informing opening game, with Italy opening their tournament in front of a home crowd in Rome.
Turkey as a nation do have history of exceeding expectations at major tournaments. In 2008 they reached the semi-final’s of the European Championships and in 2002 they reached the same stage of the World Cup. Under manager Senol Gunes who is having his 2nd spell in charge of the Turkey National side (his first spell was 2000-2004 where he was the mastermind behind their 2002 World Cup campaign that saw them finish in 3rd place) they have a manager who knows what it takes to get a group of players who maybe lack the quality of other nations, to outperform their odds and go deep into a competition. Turkey finished 2nd in their qualifying group and during their qualifying campaign they took 4 points off World Champions France, as they beat them 2-0 and then drew with them 1-1 at Stade De France. Since Saul Gunes took charge for the 2nd time they have played 26 games and lost just 3. Recent wins against Norway 3-0 and Holland 4-2 also show that this is a Turkey side with something about them, who will prove tough opposition for most sides in the competition. There will be confidence flowing through the Turkey camp as they have players like Zeki Celik, Yusuf Yazici and Burak Yilmaz who are all coming off a surprise title winning season with Lille, and with Premier League experience at the back in Caglar Soyuncu (who was also a big part of Leicester’s FA Cup win) and Liverpool defender Ozan Kabak, its not hard to see why many people feel Turkey go into this tournament with one of if not the best squads they have had in the last 20 years.
Manged by former Man City boss Roberto Mancini, Italy have been rebuilding nicely ahead of this tournament after the shocking and embarrassing failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. He has given this Italy side confidence again and they come here looking for their first European Championship since 1968. Italy flew through their qualifying group and become just the 6th side in history to qualify for the Euros with a perfect record (played 10 and won 10). During this qualifying campaign they scored 35 goals and conceded just 4. In his 32 games in charge Mancini has seen his side score 79 goals and concede just 14. Defensive stability has been a big part of The Italians under Mancini and has seen them go their last 27 games unbeaten and lose just twice since they appointed Mancini to the helm. This is an Italy side with class dotted all over the field. Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini add an experienced element of class to the defensive ranks, with players like Jorginho, Marco Verrati and Nicolo Barella pulling the strings in the middle of the park. Then up top they have big names like Ciro immobile and Lorenzo insigne who add to what is a classy Italian squad. Whilst some will question if this is an Italy side with enough fire power to go all the way, there is no doubting that this is an Italian side who on their day can serve it up to any team in the competition.
The referee for this game is Danny Makkelie of The Netherlands. Here are some of his stats and what to expect tonight in terms of cards.
This season Danny Makkelie has taken charge of 36 games. He has given 123 yellow cards and 9 red cards for an average of 3.42 yellow cards per game and 0.25 red cards per game.
In Danny Makkelie’s career to date he has taken charge of 231 games. He has given 714 yellow cards and 45 red cards for an average of 3.09 yellow cards per game and 0.19 red cards per game.
In his career Danny Makkelie has taken charge of 8 international games, spread across The Uefa Nations league, Euro U21 and The World Cup. In those 8 games he has given 37 yellow cards and 2 red cards for An average of 4.62 yellow cards per game and 0.25 red cards per game.
So we have a referee who is typically averaging around 3 yellow cards a game and a red card every 4/5 games. However, we see a clear spike in yellow cards when he takes charge of an international game.
This is going to be a very hard fought game, Italy are clear favourites to progress from this group that also features Switzerland and Wales, but as with all opening group games, a win here for either side really gives them a great chance of reaching the knockout stage. I see this as a fact finding game for both teams. If Italy are confident that they have what it takes to go deep in this competition and ultimately win it, then a side like Turkey are a team they really ought to be getting past with not much fuss. If Turkey . feel they have a side who can emulate their 2008 Euros squad and 2002 World Cup squad then they really need a good showing tonight.
In terms of bets it’s a difficult opening game. Both sides have seen their recent success built on defensive stability, but both sides will also be desperate to win this game and set themselves up for a great tournament. The Italy defence in particular has been very solid. I see a tight game where Italy just do enough to come out on top winning 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1. Cards looks like it could be a profitable angle on this game. With a referee who is averaging over 4.5 yellow cards per game when he takes charge of an International game, and the fact that Italy are playing in Rome, in the opening game of a major tournament against a proud and stubborn Turkey side. I don’t feel this is a game to get stuck into too heavily from a betting point of view, but we should be in for an entertaining and physical opening to Euro 2020.