5 talking points as Wales prepare to face Italy at Euro 2020

·3-min read

Wales conclude their Euro 2020 group fixtures against Italy on Sunday.

Italy lead the way in Group A after 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland but Wales, who have four points from two games, would top the section by winning in Rome.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the main talking points as Gareth Bale’s side seek to cause an upset at the Stadio Olimpico.

Wembley prize

England v Scotland – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group D – Wembley Stadium
Wembley Stadium will host the winners of Group A in the round of 16 (Mike Egerton/PA)

The winners of Group A will go to Wembley to play the runners-up of Group C, most likely Austria or Ukraine. The incentive for Wales would be to play in front of a 40,000 crowd and thousands of their own supporters after most stayed at home for the 3,000-mile trip to Azerbaijan amid coronavirus restrictions. The runners-up will head to Amsterdam to meet the runners-up of Group B, probably Denmark, Finland or Russia. Italy have already qualified for the knockout stage. Defeat could see Wales overtaken by Switzerland for second spot and leave them sweating on being one of the four best third-placed teams to make the last 16.

Changes on the cards

Italy Switzerland Euro 2020 Soccer
Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini (centre) will miss the Wales game through injury (Ettore Ferrari/AP)

Both teams will probably make changes with half an eye on the knockout stage. But how far can the two coaches, Roberto Mancini and Robert Page, go as not to disrupt the momentum gained over the first two games? Italy are already without injured captain Giorgio Chiellini and hope midfielder Marco Verratti is fit enough to make his first appearance of the tournament. Wales have Ben Davies, Chris Mepham and Kieffer Moore on yellow cards and there may be starting opportunities for Ethan Ampadu, Neco Williams and David Brooks.

Ramsey return

Turkey v Wales – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group A – Baku Olympic Stadium
Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey returns to Italy for Wales at Euro 2020 (PA)

Juventus’ Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey returns to Italy no doubt determined to prove a point. Ramsey has had some good moments in Turin since leaving Arsenal two summers ago, but too often he has been on the bench or on the sidelines frustrated by injury. The transfer gossip columns have been full of suggestions Ramsey will leave Italy after Euro 2020 and head back to the Premier League. But he showed in Wales’ 2-0 win over Turkey in Baku – where he scored his 17th international goal – that he remains a considerable asset to any team.

Italy look the real deal

Italy Switzerland Euro 2020 Soccer
Italy manager Roberto Mancini has presided over a 29-game unbeaten run (Ettore Ferrari/AP)

Italy stand one game from equalling their all-time unbeaten run of 30 matches, a record set between 1935 and 1939. The Azzurri have not lost since September 2018 and have scored 80 goals in winning 24 and drawing five of their last 29 games. Mancini’s Italy have looked real contenders to become European champions for the first time since 1968. Bolstered by ageless central defenders Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Italy play a fluid 4-3-3 with a dynamic midfield, full-backs who get high up the pitch, and wide attackers in close contact with the central striker.

Italy hold upper hand in past meetings

Wales v Italy
Craig Bellamy (left) scores Wales’ winner in a 2-1 victory over Italy in Cardiff in October 2002 (David Jones/PA)

Italy have dominated a fixture first played in 1965, winning seven of the nine games and losing two. The Azzurri won the first three matches by an aggregate scoreline of 9-2 before Wales claimed their only victory on Italian soil in 1988. Ian Rush, who was playing for Juventus at the time, scored in a 1-0 friendly win in Brescia. Italy won the next three meetings by an aggregate 9-0 margin before Simon Davies and Craig Bellamy were on target in a 2-1 Wales win in October 2002. Italy exacted revenge for that Euro 2004 qualifying defeat 11 months later by winning 4-0 in Milan.

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