Image: Wikimedia Commons / Sefer azeri
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Sefer azeri

Italy dominate Switzerland ahead of Wales decider

Italy deservedly overcame Switzerland 3-0 in the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The win puts Italy through to the knockout stages of this year’s European Championship, with one game left in the group stage against Wales.

Switzerland started well but Italy soon asserted their dominance and authority throughout the game.

Halfway through the first half, Italy had the ball in the net through Giorgio Chiellini’s short-range effort from Lorenzo Insigne’s corner. However, Chiellini’s goal was disallowed following a VAR check, as he handled the ball in the air.

Shortly after, Chiellini was substituted off due to an apparent hamstring injury. His replacement, Francesco Acerbi, was solid though.

The Azzuri’s dynamic performance produced a legitimate goal soon enough. On a counterattack, Locatelli played a long ball over to Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi on the right wing. After bursting down the wing, Berardi cut the ball back for Locatelli to slot home from short range.

Despite some sparse attacks from Switzerland, none of the Swiss threats could materialise into anything significant. The score entering half-time was 1-0 to Italy.

The second half started much brighter than the first for Switzerland. With an energetic, high-press approach, Italy were pushed deep in their own half.

Despite their efforts, Switzerland could generate little attacking momentum and Xherdan Shaqiri, in particular, looked a shadow of his former international self.

Italy were confident in playing out from the back and this confidence showed through their comfort in possession.

Locatelli’s second goal was well-taken and put Italy 2-0 up. Nicolo Barella squared the ball to a wide-open Locatelli, who drilled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

The result was not in doubt but Italy never let up

At this point, the result was never in doubt but Italy never let up. They continued to create chances, despite Ciro Immobile having a below-average day at the office.

That would change by the end of the game though. Rafael Toloi played a nice ball forward to Immobile, who was lying deeper than his usual forward position. With acres of space, Immobile struck the ball into the bottom left corner, just out of reach of the outstretched Yann Sommer.

Italy’s performance was convincing, and the 3-0 win was demonstrative of their conviction going forward and their strength at the back.

Their midfield three were instrumental in the win and are perfect fits within Mancini’s fluid 4-3-3 system. The trio did not look like they were missing (arguably) their best player, Marco Verratti, who Italy are hoping to include if they reach the later rounds of this tournament.

In fact, Locatelli looked like a world-class midfielder. His passing was creative and accurate and his work-rate was fantastic too.

With a solid defence, the Italian midfielders seemed fearless, knowing they would be back in possession soon enough.

After a great first game against Turkey, Leonardo Spinazzola followed up with another fantastic display. His battle with Switzerland’s Kevin Mbabu was one of the most exciting matchups on the pitch.

Though Immobile was positive in approach, he will be hoping to be more clinical with his chances. In the later parts of the second half, he had multiple goalscoring opportunities that he should have at least hit the target with.

Under manager Roberto Mancini, Italy look truly rejuvenated from their disappointing selves that saw them miss the 2018 World Cup. Prior to last Friday night, Italy had never scored more than two in a game at a European Championship. With this 3-0 win against Switzerland, they have now managed that feat twice in two games at Euro 2020.

“Brilliant performance from Italy and they controlled it from start to finish,” said Leon Osman.

Italy are now unbeaten in 29 games in all competitions. They have also kept a clean sheet in their last 10 games – showing just how dominant they are currently.

For Switzerland, this defeat will be no doubt be disappointing. While they may not have expected to win this game, a loss here leaves them third in the group with just one point. Their only hope at progression will be on goal difference, provided Wales lose to Italy and they can beat Turkey.

Switzerland looked lethargic and never seemed like scoring

In truth, their performance did not warrant them taking anything away from this match – they looked lethargic upfront and never seemed like scoring.

This had been a much-debated issue for Switzerland in the build-up to the tournament – they do not seem to be able to have a consistent goal-threat. While Breel Embolo provided some scarce moments of creative brilliance, striker Haris Seferovic hardly had a sniff of a ball in the first half before being substituted off for the second half.

With Granit Xhaka sitting in front of a back three of Fabian Schär, Nico Elvedi and Manuel Akanji, Switzerland were relatively steady defensively. However, it seemed that the fearsome Italy attack ultimately proved too much.

Group A concludes with just one knockout place remaining. Earlier in the day, Wales beat Turkey 2-0. Turkey, a side who many thought were underrated, have disappointed so far. Their final chance to prove themselves in this competition is against Switzerland in the final game of the group stage.

For Switzerland, it is now a must-win game against Turkey. A win only gives them a chance to qualify, as they are reliant on Italy beating Wales.

For Italy, the group stages so far have been a breeze, and there is no doubt that they will be looking to secure themselves as the top seed in Group A with a result against Wales.

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