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Roberto Mancini will struggle to laugh off Italy’s billing as one of the tournament favourites if they continue to dazzle like this.
Mancini dismissed talk of Italy being the team to beat, joking that is just the opinion of the English bookmakers.
Nice try, Roberto, but no-one is falling for that one.
Italy may not boast the stellar names of France, Belgium, England or Portugal, but as Mancini says, the team is their star.
They have quality all over the pitch, a fantastic mentality and the perfect blend of youth and experience.
Yes, tougher challenges undoubtedly lie ahead in the knock-out stages, but Italy have momentum and are improving with every game.
Italy were superb once again in their 3-0 victory
(Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)
Manuel Locatelli starred last night to light up the Olympic Stadium against Switzerland and the 23-year-old scored two fine goals to trumpet his burgeoning talent.
Arsenal are said to be keen on the Sassulo midfielder and the whole of Europe will have noted his dynamic display.
The only negative on a night when Italy extended their winning run to 10 games without conceding and their unbeaten sequence to 29 matches was a hamstring injury to their defensive totem Giorgio Chiellini.
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The Azzurri will hope it is not serious and that their skipper will be fit for the beginning of the knock-out stage in nine days’ time.
After being competitive for the first five minutes, Italy totally suffocated Switzerland with their high press.
The Swiss, who had lost just one of their previous 15 matches, could not breathe and Ciro Immobile should have scored when he headed over a cross from the excellent Leonardo Spinazzola.
Italy thought they had netted when Chiellini bundled home from close range, only for VAR to spot he handled controlling Lorenzo Insigne’s corner, and he went off injured soon after.
Italy shrugged off Chiellini’s loss to open the scoring on 26 minutes with a goal of real quality.
Locatelli played a superb first-time ball from inside his own half to release Domenico Berardi on the right and showed huge desire to sprint upfield to get on the end of his team-mate’s cross.
From goal maker to taker in one flowing split-second move.
Roberto Mancini has done a stellar job with Italy so far
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Locatelli can score all kinds of goals and his second on 52 minutes was a superb left-footed strike from outside the box into the far bottom corner.
Immobile sealed Italy’s second successive 3-0 win by firing home from over 25 yards out a minute from time.
This was painful to endure for Switzerland and their coach Vladimir Petkovic, who is adored by half of the Eternal City for beating Roma with Lazio in the 2013 Coppa Italia final.
They know they must now beat Turkey in Baku on Sunday to keep alive their hopes of making the last 16.