Today, Friday, the attention of football fans will turn to the Olympic Stadium in Rome, which will be the scene of the opening match of the European Football Championship, between Italy and its Turkish counterpart.
A year after the tournament was postponed due to the Corona pandemic, it kicks off Friday in Rome with the participation of 24 teams, and hosted by 11 cities across the European continent.
The opening match will be held at 10:00 pm Mecca time, 7:00 GMT.
It is expected that 16,000 spectators will attend the Olympic Stadium, at 25% of its capacity, according to the Corona protocol.
Italy is a candidate to be the dark horse in the championship
Observers believe that the Italian national team is able to play the role of the dark horse in the “Euro 2020” finals, after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
But the four-time world champion (Italy) does not have a striking attacking line like Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, France’s Kylian Mbappe, and England’s Harry Kane.
Despite scoring a record 150 goals with Lazio in five seasons, Italy’s attacking star, Ciro Immobile, has not yet reached the rank of superscorer that the continent’s defenders fear.
The 31-year-old striker bore the brunt of criticism for his inability to score in the loss of the qualifying playoff for the Russian World Cup against Sweden in November 2017.
Immobile then won the European Golden Shoe title, scoring 36 goals with Lazio in the local league 2019-2020 season, then adding 20 goals last season.
Italy’s attacking line also includes Andrea Belotti, a Turin player who scored 12 international goals in 33 matches, but the 27-year-old has limited experience.
Behind Immobile and Belotti, there is the young Giacomo Raspadori, who could give the Italian national team an additional attacking option.
Turkey counts on “King Burak”
Despite not losing to its next opponent Turkey in 10 matches (7 wins and 3 draws), Italy and its defense may face the threat of the veteran Turkish striker, Burak Yilmaz.
“King Burak” is playing in the finals, excited about winning the French League title in his first season with Lille, and he was the best scorer in his ranks with 16 goals in 28 games.
Yilmaz will be the most prominent danger with Turkey, after scoring 5 goals in four matches for his country in 2021.
“Our main goal is the match against Italy,” said Yilmaz, 35, noting that his country will then face Wales and Switzerland in Group A.
“We play better against the big teams. We must win this match. We are not afraid of anyone on the field. We want to start the tournament in the best possible way and take Turkey to the place it deserves,” Yilmaz continued.