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Although Turkey go into their group stage match against Italy with the label of fourth favourites in the group, according to FIFA’s rankings, they are a side on the up and will present a danger to the group favourites.
Italy will need to be careful of the in form Burak Yilmaz and will face a tough time getting past centre-back pairing of Caglar Soyuncu and one of Ozan Kabak or Merih Demiral.
Italy meanwhile will be looking to kick off their group with a confident display. Roberto Mancini will set up an attacking side which looks to flow through central striker Ciro Immobile. With plenty of the typical Italian defensive assuredness expected.
Italy go into the game with absolute confidence in their record against Turkey having never lost to their opponents. In the 11 times that the two nations have met one another Italy have won 8 and drawn 3.
The last time the two sides met was in an international friendly game in 2006. Both teams played out a 1-1 draw in which former Udinese player and Italian striking icon Antonio Di Natale scored an opener before ‘The Matrix’ AKA Marco Materazzi scored an own goal.
The last meeting in a European Championship match was in 2000 where the pair met in the group stage. Both teams ended up progressing, but Italy won the match 2-1 with goals from Antonio Conte and Filippo Inzaghi.
The two aforementioned centre halves will certainly need to be on the top of their game to deal with Immobile plus the wide options of Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Federico Chiesa.
The experienced pair of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will battle with the equally well-travelled Yilmaz.
Italy’s left-back Leonardo Spinazzola will have the tough task of tracking Zeki Celik. The Lille right-back has enjoyed a stellar season for the Ligue 1 champions and likes to get forward. Also known for taking a shot on should it fall to him.
The immediate notable subplot is the Serie A narrative. Whilst Italy is filled with talent from their own nation, some of the Turkish players also ply their trade there.
Hakan Calhanoglu of AC Milan will be finding the spaces between the Juventus defenders and should he try and test the keeper, will find teammate Gianluigi Donnarumma between the sticks. However, both may yet leave Milan this summer with their contracts set to expire and no new deal agreed as of yet.
Defensively, Juventus’ starting pair of Chiellini and Bonucci will be at the opposite end of the field to the man who cannot get a look in past their vast experience. Merih Demiral joined Juve as a player thought to have exceptional potential and he will want to impress as the ageing pair reach their final years.
The final subplot is a Lille v PSG reunion. The former pipped the title favourites to the crown and Alessandro Florenzi will look to stop Yilmaz and Celik from harming his hopes at a trophy once again.
Turkey: Cakir; Meras, Soyunco, Demiral, Celik; Yokuslu, Tufan; Karaman, Calhanoglu, Yazici; Yilmaz
Italy: Donnarumma, Florenzi, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola, Jorginho, Locatelli, Barella, Chiesa, Insigne, Immobile.
Score Prediction: Turkey 0-2 Italy