Group D fixtures
Sunday 10 July
France vs Italy (21:00, Rotherham)
Thursday 14 July
Italy vs Iceland (18:00, Manchester)
Monday 18 July
Italy vs Belgium (21:00, Manchester)
How they qualified: Group B runners-up (P10 W8 D1 L1 F37 A5)
Women’s EURO best: Runners-up (1993, 1997)
Women’s EURO 2017: Group stage
Key player: Barbara Bonansea
Her pace and technique with the ball make the winger a lethal weapon for the Azzurre. Despite her attacking instincts, Bonansea is fiercely determined to help out with defensive duties having started her career as a hard-working midfielder. She thrives on the biggest stage, having scored both of Italy’s goals in the 2-1 win against Australia in the 2019 World Cup, and earned herself a place in the 2019/20 FIFA FIFPRO Women’s World 11.
One to watch: Manuela Giugliano
The 24-year-old diminutive midfielder, nicknamed ‘nuvola rossa’ (red cloud) due to the colour of her hair, has impressed everybody with her intensity, technique and vision in midfield. Voted by her peers as the Serie A Female Footballer of the Year in 2019, Bonansea will become a star at international level with greater consistency.
Coach: Milenia Bertolini
A former centre-back who won the Scudetto three times with Reggiana and Modena (twice), Bertolini enjoyed similar success at club level as a coach – one Scudetto with Reggiana and two with Brescia – before being appointed to replace Antonio Cabrini as Italy coach in August 2017. She had an immediate impact, leading them to the World Cup finals for the first time in 20 years then reaching the quarter-finals in 2019. Good results kept coming as the Azzurre also reached EURO 2022.
In their last qualifier against Israel, Italy needed a victory with a six-goal margin to be among the best runners-up – they won 12-0.
Bertolini is very flexible when it comes to team selection and her playing system. She favours a 4-4-2 but has sometimes deployed a 4-3-3 or even a 3-4-3 system. Bonansea is key to this flexibility as she can play as a winger in a 4-4-2 formation or in the three-pronged attack with the other systems.
Cristian Girelli, whose nine goals in ten qualifying games included a hat-trick against Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a cornerstone in attack, with veteran centre-back Sara Gama fulfilling a similar role in defence in a squad strongly influenced by Juventus players.
Italy were one of the best teams on the continent during the first two decades of these championships, finishing in the top four in the first four editions and losing the final against Norway in 1993. After failing to qualify in 1995, the Azzurre reached and lost another final, against Germany in 1997. They have not progressed further than the quarter-finals since and are eager to improve this time around to underline the positive strides made in Bertolini’s tenure so far.
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