The big day for the Azzurri is finally here. After nearly five years, Italy will be playing in a major international tournament (sorry, UEFA Nations League). And with that much time passing, the starting XI will be almost completely transformed from the side that failed to qualify for World Cup 2018 by losing to Sweden in November 2017.
Of that night’s starting XI, only Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Jorginho, and Alessandro Florenzi remain, as do reserves Gigi Donnarumma, Andrea Belotti, and Lorenzo Insigne. That’s seven out of 24 players on the roster set the participate in this summer’s Euros. In just about 3 1⁄2 years, the Roberto Mancini has turned over more than 70% of the Azzurri roster. And the results have been encouraging.
The Azzurri enter today’s opener against Turkey, after a perfect 10-0-0 qualifying campaign with a 27 match unbeaten run that dates back all the way to September of 2018. Italy would love to extend that streak to another match when they host Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico later this afternoon.
In order to do that, Mancini will be able to field almost his entire preferred starting XI minus one name: Marco Verratti. Verratti is recovering from a knee injury that he suffered with PSG nearly a month ago. He will miss out on this one, however, there is optimism that he could play a part for Italy later in the month after he began training again yesterday.
For today’s, projected XI we will start in the midfield—Italy’s deepest and most talented position. Luckily for Mancini, the Azzurri have plenty of depth in the center of the park, as besides Verratti being match-to-match, Inter’s Stefano Sensi, and Roma’s Lorenzo Pellegrini already have pulled out of the squad due to injuries. They’ve been replaced by Atalanta’s Matteo Pessina and Fiorentina’s Gaetano Castrovilli, respectively.
In Verratti’s absence, Sassuolo’s Manuel Locatelli will start with Chelsea’s Jorginho and Inter’s Nicolò Barella in the three-man mid. In attack, it’ll be another Sassuolo man, Domenico Berardi, starting on the right-wing. Opposite him will be Napoli’s Insigne. And leading the line will be Lazio’s Immobile.
Meanwhile, dropping back into defense, Roma’s Leonardo Spinazzola and (technically) Roma’s Florenzi will man the fullback positions. Centering them will be Juve’s Chiellini and Bonucci. The two veteran center backs are all that remain of the ItaliaJuve sides of the mid-2000s where the BBC, Buffon, Pirlo, and Marchisio would dominate starting XIs. Lastly, rounding out the XI is free agent keeper Donnarumma.