Football

Euro 2020: Italy lack pace, intensity and power, says Patrick Vieira

But del Piero and Ranieri praise Azzurri, who reach last 16 by beating Swiss 3-0

Reaction was mixed among football pundits after Italy became the first team to qualify for the last 16 of Euro 2020 with their second successive 3-0 win in Group A yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The swashbuckling Azzurri's comfortable triumph against Switzerland came thanks to a brace by Manuel Locatelli, who was deputising for injured midfield star Marco Verratti, and striker Ciro Immobile's second goal of the tournament.

But it was not all good news for Roberto Mancini's side, as captain Giorgio Chiellini was forced off in the 24th minute with a thigh injury.

The result at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome extended Italy's unbeaten run to 29 games, and their winning sequence to 10 matches, during which they have scored 31 goals and conceded none.

 

 

However, France's former World Cup and European Championship winner Patrick Vieira remains unconvinced, saying on ITV: "I think the first two games that they played were two easy games... I still have doubts they can go to the end.

"I believe that they lack intensity, lack power, pace, to be even more dangerous going forward... it's still a bit too early to take Italy into consideration, that they can go to the end."

Ex-England right-back Gary Neville agreed, saying on ITV: "The worry for Italy is that they've not been tested.

"Italy are achieving their maximum, but I agree with Patrick, I feel they will fall short, they do everything they do well though.

"They are a passionate team and it will be interesting to see how they do against a good team."

PERFECT

Others, however, were more positive, with Italy's ex-World Cup winner Alessandro del Piero calling their win over the Swiss "a perfect performance".

Claudio Ranieri, who won the English Premier League title with Leicester City, wrote in his Gazzetta dello Sport column: "This Italy side are perfect and Locatelli is a jewel...

"Good possession, pressing, runs. Six goals scored and none conceded, Mancini has built an extraordinary orchestra."

However, Mancini sought to play down expectations, saying: "France, Portugal and Belgium are all at the Euros.

"One is the world champion, one is the European champion and the other is ranked No. 1 in the world. These are teams that have been built over years and are further along than us in development."

Football