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Gareth Bale leads the Wales celebrations after their 2-0 win over Turkey
Gareth Bale leads the Wales celebrations after their 2-0 win over Turkey

Group A: Italy v Wales, kick-off 5pm (UK time, ITV)

The top two in Group A collide in Rome, with Italy safely through to the round of 16 and Wales, barring a major mathematical swing, set to join them.

The Italians have been one of the standout nations so far and have swiftly transitioned from dark horses to being considered among the outright favourites — a side completely reinvented under Roberto Mancini’s leadership.

Meanwhile, Rob Page’s men look to be channelling the spirit of 2016 that saw them reach the semi-finals in France five years ago against all odds.

Story so far

It is two wins from two for the Azzurri, who have doubtless benefitted from playing both their group matches sp far at home in front of a fervent support at the Stadio Olimpico.

A 3-0 victory over Turkey was backed up with another 3-0 success against Switzerland — and they do not look like stopping any time soon.

Italy's defence has hardly been troubled and Mancini's side have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 10 matches in all competitions, translating to 965 minutes without conceding a goal.

Young goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is certainly pleased with this statistic but knows what is ultimately more important.

He said: “Not conceding for so many matches is a source of pride but winning matches comes first."

Looking to break down the wall will be a Welsh side making the trip from their far-flung base in Azerbaijan.

The Dragons have enjoyed a good start, building on a 1-1 draw against the Swiss with a 2-0 win over Turkey thanks to goals from Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts — both set up by Gareth Bale, who even found time to miss a penalty in between those strikes.

Midfield metronome

Jorginho plays a more advanced role for Italy, evidenced by his passes into the final third
Jorginho plays a more advanced role for Italy, evidenced by his passes into the final third

Chelsea star Jorginho has been instrumental for the Italians in their first two Euro 2020 fixtures.

Playing every minute so far, he has pulled the strings for Mancini, attempting more passes than anyone else in his side (149) with a completion rate of 93.3%.

And it has not just been in his usual deep-lying role either, with 22 of his 24 attempted passes into the final third being successful.

With the ball at his feet, the 29-year-old has been supreme — but Jorginho has not been afraid to get stuck in.

Making 12 interceptions and winning six defensive duels, he hardly gave Turkey and Switzerland any time to breathe. And it is likely, should Mancini resist rotating his squad, that Wales may suffer similar treatment.

Wales, golf, Madrid... in that order

Real Madrid outcast Bale just loves playing for Wales.

After skying his spot-kick against Turkey, the 31-year-old was desperate to make amends.

Refusing to settle for just keeping the ball in the corner late on, he opted to drive into the box — eventually setting up Roberts’ stoppage-time clincher.

That was his second assist of Euro 2020 but it is his goal tally he would like to add to.

Bale scored three times in Euro 2016. And with a shooting accuracy of 40% this time around, it cannot be long before another finds its way home.

Arrivederci, Ramsey

Aaron Ramsey looks set to leave Juventus this summer after two years in Turin
Aaron Ramsey looks set to leave Juventus this summer after two years in Turin

With transfer speculation rife that Ramsey is looking set for a move back to the Premier League, this could well be the last time the Juventus man plays on Italian soil.

The Welshman has featured in 65 matches for The Old Lady since arriving in 2019 but rumours are swirling about a potential transfer to Aston Villa.

Coming up against some of his current club team-mates could also be a benefit that Page and his men will look to exploit.

The 30-year-old underlined his quality in the win over Turkey, breaking the lines to get into the box on several occasions before opening the scoring in Baku.

After Bale, he is the Dragons’ most important player — and it has showed.

Three from three

Alessandro Bastoni is just one of the many talented Italy players yet to feature at Euro 2020
Alessandro Bastoni is just one of the many talented Italy players yet to feature at Euro 2020

It may seem hard to believe but no side has won all three group matches of a European Championship finals since Germany did it in 2012.

The lure of maximum points, and even zero goals conceded, might prove too much for Mancini to turn down if he is considering shuffling his pack for this clash.

Even if he does give minutes to other members of the squad, he can call on Federico Chiesa, Gaetano Castrovilli, Marco Verratti and Alessandro Bastoni.

Either way, expect another strong line-up from the former Manchester City boss as the Azzurri look to leave Rome with a perfect record and strong momentum into the knockout phase.

Tags

WalesItalyEuropean Championship

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