The Swiss makes way for the Azzurri’s as Locatelli takes them to the knockout stages of EURO 2020

June 17, 2021

The Italian National Team has been a tournament revelation so far. It has been six days until EURO 2020 and they have already spearheaded their way onto the next stages of the European championship in a way that the other heavyweights would take notice. Roberto Mancini’s record of 29 games unbeaten held intact with dominance and strict adherence to the 4-3-3 formation is somewhat similar approach that was used by Liverpool’s Premier league winning side.

The Stadio Olympico in Rome transformed into a festive mood as the home side induced a strong sense of national pride among their supporters by singing their national anthem with passion that is till date known to the Azzurri’s only. Mancini fielded a vastly unchanged line-up than the last game with Di Lorenzo fortifying his place into the starting 11 in place of Lorenzo Insigne who was substituted early on in the match against Turkey. The 3-0 win over Turkey was more than impressive but the real question from the experts all around the world was that is this Italian side resilient enough to stop a highly attacking side like Switzerland.

The Italians singing the song of their pride

The Swiss launched the game quite smoothly since the initiation of the first whistle trying to press high and stop Italy from building up the game. They even pushed the ball to their right flank where the likes of Mbabu with his speed and agility ready to devour the Italian defense within a split of a second. The formation that the Swiss stuck to when they had the possession was 3-2-4-1 with 3 centre backs, 2 controlling midfielders with attacking wing-backs forming a line with Shaqiri and Embolo and playing Seferovic as a lone striker changing the formation to roughly 5-2-2-1 when under attack.

Shaqiri in action

Italy started to responds minutes after the Swiss kicked off with such confidence with the attackers creating a bit of a conundrum for the Switzerland’s defense. Spinazzola with his usual ball supply in the box for Immobile started within the first quarter of the match and the Azzurri’s did not have to look back since then. Chiellini getting the ball at the back of the net roughly around the 18th minute could have written the story of the match but his goal being adjudged as handball and as he suffered from a pulled hamstring later on had to substitute and make way for Acerbi.

Chellini after his chance at goal

The Italians drew the first blood on this fixture at the 26th minute with sensational stuff from Manuel Locatelli as Berardi made a brilliant first-touch cross for Locatelli who continued his run and put the ball at the back of the net with a simple strike way past Sommer scoring his second international goal for his 12th appearance for his country. The momentum after scoring the first goal in this tournament for Italy gave Locatelli the confidence to play his dream game and also bag the Star of the Match award.

Locatelli after scoring his first goal of the night

Italy started to threaten the Swiss with their quick game starting from the back exchanging dangerous passes for the attackers to arrive in vital positions with Spinazzola showing lovely bit of skills and also missing the target the first half ended with a one goal lead. Switzerland providing Italy with the upper hand of possession and control is what dictated most of the first half and also the second half did not show much variance from the visitors. Rodriguez and Shaqiri trying to high press up the Italian defense tested the Azzurri’s in little but more occasions than before.

Spinazzola in action against Mbabu

The Switzerland defense fell apart after the 52nd minute when Locatelli made his second contribution to the score line when Barella made a squared pass at the edge of the penalty area and Locatelli’s exquisite and powerful left-footed shot sent the ball in at the far bottom corner of the net making the scoreboard light up showing 2-0. Italy exploited every bit of space they found left unattended by the Swiss with all their might. The defensive wall became non-existent thereafter and the final attacking third with Immobile, Barella and Insigne making frequent advancement into the 6 yard box than Vladimir Petkovic would have imagined in his wildest of thoughts.

Locatelli’s second

Shaqiri and Zuber missing the target whenever they were in possession and was able to attack was the juncture at which Switzerland lost all their hope of making a historic comeback. Meanwhile, Berardi and Immobile producing absolute belters but being denied the final result made Italy more and more aggravated to get their third. 

Shaqiri with the chance

The moment came at the dying embers of the encounter when substituted player Toloi who came in to replace Berardi made a final pass for Immobile who got enough time and space to turn and strike the ball from 25 meters which was practically half-a-chance went at  bottom corner via a touch from the Swiss custodian Sommer and rested the final score to 3-0.

Immobile’s shot for goal

The Italians had made the score line 3-0 as quite a natural practice for themselves in this tournament as they created history in their last encounter vs Turkey to have won was a game into the European Championship night by winning with such a margin. As for the Swiss were concerned their lack of compactness and attacking prowess made them lose their luck of even getting a second spot on the group rankings with Wales’ fiery performance against Turkey yesterday. Thus the Italians set the record straight once and for all that the erstwhile title contenders are back in business.

Team News:

Italy: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola, Barella, Jorginho, Locatelli, Berardi, Immobile, Insigne. 

Subs: Sirigu, Belotti, Pessina, Emerson Palmieri, Chiesa, Acerbi, Cristante, Bernardeschi, Raspadori, Bastoni, Toloi, Meret.

Switzerland: Sommer, Elvedi, Schar, Akanji, Mbabu, Freuler, Xhaka, Rodriguez, Shaqiri, Seferovic, Embolo. 

Subs: Widmer, Zakaria, Vargas, Mvogo, Zuber, Sow, Fassnacht, Benito, Mehmedi, Gavranovic, Kobel, Comert.

Referee: Sergei Karasev (Russia).

Star of the Match: Manuel Locatelli

Manuel Locatelli with the Star of the Match award