The “Azzuri” are all set to battle with the Austrians in the RO16 of the Euro 2020 competition. This epic battle is going to take place at Wembley Stadium on 26th June. After having won all the group games, Italy enters this tie as sheer favorites, to go through the next round. Austria even though is the underdogs in this tie, will fancy causing an upset over the Italians. Ever since Roberto Mancini has taken over the reins, he has transformed this Italian side completely, so much so that they are again looking like a threat and also will be looking to dominate European football all over again.
Why Should You be Watching?
A traditional European rivalry that will bring out the best from both teams. With the rampant firing Italian attack versus a stubborn and compact Austrian defense, this game has everything to excite the football fans. Italy has been really impressive in the campaign right from the qualifiers. Austrians have been inconsistent at times and will look to work on their defensive errors. They will also have to be clinical in the final third, as they cannot afford to let go of their chances against a quality opponent like Italy.
The Italians enter this round with a united squad and are yet to concede a goal in the tournament. They have also given minutes to their bench players in their final group game, which makes them completely ready and firing for this fixture. The four-time world champions have now reached ten straight wins, only for the second time in their history. Austrians will be relieved, that they are playing their first-ever European knockout fixture on the neutral turf.
For both teams, midfield would be the key. Even though the Italian team is flooded with superstars like Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Leonardo Bonucci, etc., the Austrians also do boast some world-class players like Marcel Sabitzer, David Alaba, Marco Arnautovic in their lineup.
Head to Head
In the last 35 head-to-head encounters between the two sides, Italy has won 16 games, lost 11, and drawn eight. They last faced each other in 2008, the game which ended up in a 2-2 draw.
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma
Defence: Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leonardo Bonucci, Alessandro Bastoni, Leonardo Spinazzola
Midfield: Nicolo Barella, Jorginho, Manuel Locatelli
Forward: Domenico Berardi, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne
GK: Daniel Bachmann
Defence: Stefan Lainer, Aleksandar Dragovic, Martin Hinteregger, Marcel Sabitzer
Midfield: David Alaba, Xaver Schlager, Florian Grillitsch, Michael Gregoritsch, Marko Arnautovic
Forwards: Sasa Kalajdzic
Players to watch out for
The prolific Napoli forward has been in fine form, both for his club and the country. Having scored two goals in the opening fixture, Insigne is an absolute pivotal piece of Roberto Mancini’s game plan. The left forward has formed a wonderful on-field partnership with Ciro Immobile and Manuel Locatelli. His clever runs in the final third and deadly eye for goal in the 18-yard box can cause plenty of headaches to the Austrian defense.
The Lazio star is in terrific touch. He has scored 20 goals in 35 appearances for his club in the last season and has carried the same form into the Euros for Italy. So far he has scored two goals and has assisted in one, in the three matches he has played in. His incredible eye for goal and clever positioning makes him lethal, in front of the goal. Roberto Mancini will rely heavily on Immobile, for Italy to progress further in the competition. If the striker keeps his form intact, it would no surprise if Italians do end up winning this competition.
The tall keeper is yet to concede in this competition. Even though he is only 22 years of age, the new PSG star boasts a plethora of experience at the highest level. Donnarumma will hold an absolute key to keep the Austrian attackers at bay. The shot-stopper has been resilient and impressive for AC Milan however, he has not been fully tested between the sticks, in this competition. Will his club form get the best out of him, in the games which matter the most?
We will have to wait and see.
The captain of the Austrian National Team, David Alaba has had an illustrious career at club level, as he has won each and every trophy for Bayern Munich. The new Real Madrid star is known for his versatility and can play in defense, midfield, and either side of the flank. Coach Franco Foda will hope that the Austrian captain’s influence will help the nation progress even further in this competition.
The tall defender has enough of Bundesliga’s experience on his shoulders. The right-back is also known for goal-scoring abilities. Sabitzer has scored 40 goals in 175 appearances for RB Leipzig, which is a magnificent record for a defender. For Austria to have any chances of keeping a clean sheet, they would need Sabitzer to be at his absolute best. Also, Chiellini and Spinazzola will wary of plenty of crosses coming from him.
The veteran right forward/winger boasts plenty of experience of playing club football at the highest level. After having played football in the top leagues like the Bundesliga and the Premier League, Arnautovic knows how to deliver at the highest level, when it matters the most. Franco Foda will hope that Arnautovic links well with Sabitzer and the striker (Kalajdzic) so that they can shackle the Italian defensive wall.
Italy has been one of the best teams in the competition so far. Not only they have scored goals, but have also shown how to keep clean sheets. With their bench players also getting minutes, the Azzurri’s will be raring to go again. Austria on the other has not fared badly, as far as the tournament is concerned. Much of their players play in the Bundesliga, with versatile David Alaba leading the team. Italians certainly hold an edge in this tie however, an upset from Austria may definitely be on the cards. If it does happen, it will not be bad for the neutral fans after all.
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