Italy will take on Switzerland in their second Group A Euro 2020 on Wednesday, at Rome’s historic Stadio Olimpico.
While Italy need only a point to progress, Switzerland are seeking their first win of the competition, following a frustrating draw with Wales.
In their opening game, Italy lived up to both their pre-tournament billing, as Roberto Mancini’s men swept past a much-fancied Turkey side 3-0.
Juventus defender Merih Demiral was inadvertently responsible for breaking the deadlock with an own goal last Friday, before forwards Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne then wrapped up a comprehensive victory – Italy’s ninth win in a row.
Each of those consecutive successes – several of which were against modest opposition – also saw them register a clean sheet.
Against Switzerland, then, the four-times world champions will be looking to reach ten straight wins for only the second time in their long and glorious history – the first such streak having come during qualifying.
In fact, a measure of the huge task before the Swiss is that the Azzurri have not lost at all since September 2018 and have yet to concede a goal so far this year.
With that run representing La Nazionale’s last nine matches, the veteran defensive pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have been anchoring their rearguard with characteristic authority.
While Mancini has been lauded for introducing fresh blood to the setup, Chiellini is now 36 and his club colleague Bonucci is 34 – and together they have accrued a combined 209 caps for the national side.
That bedrock has helped Mancini come out on top in more than two-thirds of his matches to date, as his new-look team have gone undefeated for 28 games and counting.
On Wednesday, then, the chance to seal qualification with a game to spare may encourage them to capitalise on home advantage by once more taking the initiative against a capable but relatively limited side.