The final round of Euro 2020 group matches kicks off on Sunday, with Turkey, Switzerland and Wales all hoping to join Italy in the round of 16.
Italy have already guaranteed their place in the next round after winning their first two matches, and will secure first place in group A as long as they avoid defeat in their last group match against second Wales.
A point at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome would also be enough to secure Rob Page’s unbeaten side their own place in the round of 16, even if even a loss coupled with a less than five goal difference over third-placed Switzerland would see them finish. second.
The Italians didn’t even qualify for the World Cup in 2018, but the 3-0 back-to-back wins continued their unbeaten run to 29 appearances in all competitions, and intensified discussions that the 2012 finalists could return to the top this year. European Championships.
“They are a great team with few weaknesses – and they have played two great games,” said Welsh winger Daniel James, who is part of a Manchester United side that won a Europa League draw in March beating AC Milan at San Siro. .
“They have players like (Giorgio) Chiellini and (Leonardo) Bonucci, legends of the game who are coming to the end of their careers but still at the highest level.
“They’re the type of players you admire, but we think we can get a result. We are full of confidence and we don’t go into any game for a draw.
“We want to win every game and we fully believe we can do it. We’ve shown that in the last few Euros and in our recent form.”
Switzerland are still looking for their first Euro win this year and all but three points in Baku against turkey, who has lost both games so far, will likely see them eliminated in the group stage.
The Turks need a big chance to come out of Group A no matter what – as their -5 goal difference would leave them in a sticky situation in the third place standings which will decide who will join the 12 qualifying teams. in the last- 16.
“The whole nation is disappointed. It’s good to be disappointed, it happens in sport,” said Swiss midfielder Steven Zuber. “We know what it’s like to be on the other side, and that’s our goal – to be on the other side on Sunday.”
Coach Vladimir Petkovic is under increasing pressure due to Switzerland’s poor performance in this year’s group stages. He entered Euro 2020 as the tournament’s third-longest-serving coach, but before Italy’s 3-0 hammering on Wednesday he had not seen his side beaten in the group stage of a final tournament since taking the reins in 2014.
He took the unusual step of pleading with the country’s fans to support their team ahead of their must-see game in Azerbaijan on Sunday, which will again look like a home game for their opponents due to the close relations between the two countries. .
“Footballers and coaches have feelings, worries, fears and happiness just like everyone else. We are just as vulnerable,” Petkovic wrote in an open letter published on Saturday in the Switzerland am Wochenende newspaper. “And that is why we need all of your support before this decisive match. Your solidarity. Your positivity. We will do everything so that we can all celebrate together on Sunday night.”
Who plays Sunday?
Group A: Italy v Wales; Kick-off 5 p.m. (Rome)
Group A: Switzerland vs Turkey; Kick-off 5 p.m. (Baku)
Italy vs Wales: Marco Verratti is back in training in Italy, but with his understudy Manuel Locatelli who scored twice against Switzerland last time around, there will be little desire to push him away. Alessandro Florenzi missed the win over Switzerland to recover from a blow and is unlikely to return for the game against Wales.
Wales have the choice of a full squad, but can choose to stay with the same starting XI that faced Turkey after their performance in Baku.
Switzerland vs Turkey: Both teams have a full squad of players to choose from, with Switzerland likely not deviating from their normal 3-5-2 setup. Turkish coach Petkovic could be tempted by changes after two below-par results and performances for a must-see clash in Baku.
Who needs what to qualify?
After two victories in their first two matches against Turkey and Switzerland, Italy are qualified and will finish first in the group if they avoid the loss to Wales on Sunday.
Wales, who can still dominate the group with a victory over Italy, will be confirmed in the top two with a draw or if Switzerland fails to beat Turkey.
Switzerland, who will be knocked out of the tournament if he loses to Turkey, can also finish in the top two if he wins and Wales loses. The two teams would be equal on points and will then be separated on goal difference.
To finish, turkey have no chance of finishing in the top two, but they have to beat Switzerland to finish third in the group – and then hope they place high enough to qualify.
Key statistics …
This will be the second meeting between Switzerland and Turkey in a major tournament. Their first meeting was in the group stage of Euro 2008 – the Swiss, as co-hosts, lost 2-1 to the Turks.
Turkey have won each of their last two meetings with Switzerland, with both wins seeing the Swiss open the scoring. The Turks have never won three times in a row against the Swiss nation.
The last five games between Switzerland and Turkey have produced 17 goals, an average of 3.4 per game.
Switzerland (D1 L1) are looking to avoid going winless in their three group stage matches in a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004.
None of Italy and Wales ‘previous nine encounters have ever ended in a draw, with Italy winning seven against Wales’ two wins. This is their first meeting in a major tournament.
The last three matches between Italy and Wales played on Italian soil produced 11 goals, all scored by Italy (W3).
The last meeting between Italy and Wales dates back to 18 years, in a qualifying match for the European Championship in September 2003. That day, Filippo Inzaghi scored his one and only hat-trick with the Italian national team (4-0).
Italy are unbeaten in their last 29 matches in all competitions (V24, N5) since a 0-1 loss to Portugal in September 2018. If they avoid the loss to Wales, they will tie their longest streak. of 30 matches without defeat between November 1935. and July 1939.
Wales came out of the group stage in their two previous appearances in a major tournament (1958 World Cup, Euro 2016). If they avoid defeat in this game, they are sure to have a place in the knockout stages of this tournament.
Italy are looking to win all three of their group stage matches for the fourth time in a major tournament, something they had already done in the 1978 and 1990 World Cups, and at Euro 2000.
Also at Euro 2020 …
Reaching the knockout stage can have drawbacks for European Championship players.
Swedish defender Victor Lindelof suffocated and had to ask a question at a press conference after being asked about his family’s lack of home.
It came after Lindelof’s wife shared photos on her social media account of their young son acknowledging his father on an advertisement outside a store.
An emotional Lindelof said, “It’s not a good day to ask for such a thing,” before leaning back, stretching out your arms and then lowering your head for a few seconds.
The Swedish players left their families to join the squad on June 2 and they must stay in the tournament bubble. A 1-0 win over Slovakia on Friday means the Swedes are likely to advance to the round of 16 and be at Euro 2020 at least until the end of the month.
What are the original nations doing?
Scotland players will be back at their training base ahead of Tuesday’s must-see match against Croatia at Hampden Park, fresh from a downtime after a round of golf following Friday’s goalless draw against the England.
Scotland assistant coach Steven Reid told reporters: “You need a day or two in a couple of intense weeks to switch off. They will play a few holes. Certainly not a full 18.”
England are back at St George’s Park after their own day of recovery as they prepare for their own final group game against the Czech Republic, which they must win to finish top of Group D.
Sky Sports News will have all the preparation for Tuesday’s matches – with Gary Neville revisiting Friday’s stalemate at Wembley at 10am.