Italy deliver the best opening ceremonies in the football showpiece events – we witnessed it back in the San Siro in the 1990 World Cup and after 30 years, we witnessed yet another masterpiece in Rome. It was colourful, well organized and the immortal song Nessun Dorma made millions cry – a decade after decade this song just touches everyone deeply – Italian football and Nessun Dorma seem connected so deeply. Then came Bono to inject a soothing effect and the festival commenced where Italy produced a vivid display of attacking football.

A mega event is finally back in Italy and finally, the Euro is underway and there could be no better venue than Rome to commence the eagerly awaited event.

Italy started the game with attacking intent and gradually stamped the authority against a Turkish unit, who decided to sit back and catch the Italians on the counter. Their resistance was okay in the first half but after the break, they lost it completely.

Since Roberto Manchini took over as the manager of Italy, they have regrouped and played football with a bit more fluidity rather than relying too much on the traditional catenaccio.

The backline remains solid as usual and the players in the midfield and upfront advance further, always searching for goals and trying to create opportunities rather than waiting for the transition and cash in.

The Italians may lack a bit of star quality, which may come to bite them in the later stages. But Domenico Berardi and Lorenzo Insigne is a fine pair of wingers, Jorginho is a creative force midfield and on the left flank, Leonardo Spinazzola was given the license to get forward and threatened. The brilliant Federico Chiesa, given a 10-minute cameo here, still has plenty to offer and nothing to say about the brilliant Ciro Immobile, who has established himself as one of the potent goal scorers in Italy.

Amid the grateful, guttural and cathartic roar – Italy pressed and tested the Turkish defence.

Insigne and Chiellini both had good chances. Before long, Turkey had all but retreated to the edge of their 18-yard area, leaving Burak Yilmaz up to gamely run the channels – but with Yilmaz hopelessly isolated, and Italy strangling Turkey’s out-balls at source, they essentially had nothing to offer this game but blood, sweat and tackles.

The first half ended goalless and in the second half, the Turkish wheels came off.

Till then, Berardi had been cutting in on his stronger left foot, forcing left-back Umut Meras to track him. Now, Berardi feinted back on to his right, leaving Meras trailing in his dust. The cross was hopeful rather than precise, and yet Merih Demiral was unable to prevent the ball from hitting him in the chest and letting it enter the net – for the first time in the history of Euro an opening game witnessed the deadlock broken by an own goal!

Dermial is a part of the history books for the wrong reason.

With 25 minutes remaining, Berardi hung the ball up to the back post; where Spinazzola took a touch, took a shot and forced a fingertip save from Cakir. With the ball running loose, Immobile pounced: smashing it gleefully into a goal he has hit so many times with Lazio, but not once in national colours.

As the game progressed the Italian press was ruthless as Cakir scripted a horrible clearance straight to Berardi. In a flash Italy were away again: three crisp passes moving the ball right to left, a delicious curling finish from Insigne – who attempted the same in the first half.

Turkey were done and dusted.


At the Estadio Olimpico Italy made a flying start.

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