The Azzurri were absent from Russia 2018 but will return to major tournament action on Friday when they face Turkey in the opening match
Italy have transformed the disappointment of missing out on the 2018 World Cup into a desire to go far at Euro 2020 says defender Giorgio Chiellini, who has hailed his international team-mates as having “a sense of responsibility and a pinch of madness”.
The Italians suffered one of the worst nights in their footballing history when they were eliminated by Sweden in a qualifying play-off, meaning they failed to reach the last World Cup in Russia.
Under new manager Roberto Mancini and with old heads such as Chiellini guiding an exciting young squad, Italy have bounced back to the big stage and will face Turkey in the opening match of the rearranged European Championship on Friday night in Rome.
What has been said?
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Chiellini said: “Sweden in Milan has remained and we will not be able to cancel it, but we have transformed that disappointment into desire and enthusiasm, it is a feeling that the fans also have.
“We are galvanised for the start of the European Championships, we can’t wait to take to the pitch and experience this emotion all together.
“It will be the opening match and it will be even stranger, there are more unknowns and difficulties both for us and for Turkey. It will be an evening full of emotions, we will live it with the light-heartedness of a group that has a sense of responsibility and a pinch of madness, which in events like this is essential to do something great.”
Mancini: We must be free mentally
Having recovered from their World Cup nightmare to sail through qualifying for Euro 2020, Italy are among the tournament favourites and well fancied to top Group A, which also features Turkey, Wales and Switzerland.
Mancini, however, wants his players to ignore newly-raised expectations and the emotions of kicking off the tournament on home soil and in front of fans at Stadio Olimpico.
He said: “I think that after all that has happened, the time has come to go back to giving people satisfaction, to entertain them. The first game is always the most difficult, we must be free mentally without thinking about anything else.
“There is always a bit of pressure the first time. We will have to play our football while trying to have fun and respecting the qualities of Turkey.
“Three years ago I was confident, I am even more confident today. We have been working together for a long time and have fun, we would like to continue to do so.”