Preview: Italy vs. Turkey

Reigning champions Italy step up their preparations for Euro 2024 on Tuesday evening, as they welcome fellow finalists Turkey to Bologna for an international friendly.

The Azzurri have posted three wins from their last four matches – the other being a tense draw with Ukraine that sealed qualification – while their visitors cruised through qualifying but were thumped 6-1 in Austria last time out.


Match preview

Set to defend their continental title in Germany, where they will feature in an eighth consecutive European Championship finals, Italy are ultimately intent on repeating an unexpected 2021 triumph at Wembley.

At the end of last year, the Azzurri overcame a major setback when Euros-winning boss Roberto Mancini suddenly departed for Saudi Arabia, and under new head coach Luciano Spalletti they swerved a dreaded playoff by pipping Ukraine to second spot in Group C.

Two Stateside friendlies were arranged for the spring international period, so that Spalletti could assess several options for this summer – both tactically and in terms of personnel – with his side set to be confronted by Spain, Croatia and Albania in the group stage.

After Mateo Retegui’s brace saw off Venezuela in Miami, Italy then beat Ecuador 2-1 in New Jersey, making it six wins from nine games since losing in the last UEFA Nations League semi-finals.

La Nazionale reconvened at their Coverciano headquarters this week, ahead of tackling Turkey at Stadio Dall’Ara and then Bosnia-Herzegovina in Empoli – six days later, they kick off their Euros campaign against Albania.

Like Tuesday’s hosts, Turkey will make their Euro 2024 bow in Dortmund, where Vincenzo Montella’s men meet debutants Georgia in Group B, which also features Portugal and the Czech Republic.

First, Montella heads for his homeland on the back of two chastening defeats during the March get-together, as his team were edged out by Hungary before suffering a 6-1 hammering by Austria in Vienna.

The Italian coach – capped 20 times during his playing days – had previously been unbeaten since taking over last September, and Turkey were winners of Group D in Euros qualifying.

Picking up 17 points from eight games – with the highlight an historic victory in Croatia – the Crescent-Stars beat their Croatian counterparts to top spot and finished five points clear of third-placed Wales.

However, subsequent results have left Montella in need of a morale-boosting win before the main event gets under way: following Turkey’s trip to Emilia-Romagna, they will head to Warsaw for a final warm-up against Poland.


Team News

Luciano Spalletti’s preliminary squad has already been reduced from 30 players, as Francesco Acerbi recently underwent groin surgery and Giorgio Scalvini has torn his ACL: both centre-backs join Nicolo Zaniolo, Domenico Berardi, Destiny Udogie and suspended midfielder Sandro Tonali on the sidelines.

Despite being recalled, Gianluca Scamacca may not take part against Turkey, as the in-form striker was involved in Atalanta BC’s long-delayed final league fixture of the season against Fiorentina, which took place on Sunday.

While Tonali is still unavailable due to his betting ban, Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli recently returned from a similar suspension and was surprisingly selected by Spalletti, with clubmate Manuel Locatelli missing out.

Once again, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma will captain Italy, as former skipper Ciro Immobile has been left out after a campaign scarred by injuries and declining form; Mateo Retegui is therefore likely to start up front.

Meanwhile, Turkish defensive duo Caglar Soyuncu and Ridvan Yilmaz have been ruled out by injury, as has ex-Roma forward Cengiz Under.

Italy-based trio Zeki Celik, Kenan Yildiz and captain Hakan Çalhanoglu are all available, though – the latter was recently named Serie A midfielder of the year, following a superb season with champions Inter Milan.

Like Spalletti, Turkey boss Montella has experimented with formations of late, but his first-choice goalkeeper is sure to be Ugurcan Cakir, as Altay Bayindir has been starved of playing time at Manchester United.

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