The Euro reaches its business end, its knockout international football and we love to see it!
If I’m honest, I fancied a bit of Italy before the tournament got underway until I saw that to reach the final they would likely face France…I moved swiftly along. On current performance though that is starting to look potentially erroneous, the Italians are looking sublime and I think Austria will have it all to do on Saturday evening.
Euro 2020 Round of 16
Friday 26 June
The Azzurri’s start to the Championships has been glistening and brilliant to watch, their unbeaten run has captured many the imagination and its equally supplemented with a truly inspirational story – that of Roberto Mancini wanting to give his entire squad at least a minute on the field.
Last time out Italy made wholesale changes to their starting lineup and still managed to come away (relatively comfortable) with all three points. Mancini’s men must now travel to neutral turf, after enjoying all of their group games in the Eternal City, but I doubt that does too much to their confidence.
Yet to concede even a single goal this tournament, an incredibly confident Italian football side has displayed an expert blend of attacking excitement whilst clinging on to their, historically accurate, robust defensive approach – which really just makes them an intriguing side to watch.
Italy are no strangers to international glory. Austria have never been in this position before. Italy are ten games unbeaten…Italy will be confident of reaching the final eight.
The Austrians are in the Euro knockout stages for the first time in their history, they have every reason to be confident and upbeat about their achievement and there is no way they will go into this game with any fear or favour for their Italian neighbors.
Coach Franco Foda commented that whilst he appreciates the unbeaten run Mancini’s men have put together – it must come to end one day, that ‘one day’ could be Saturday.
Austria will expect a tough 90-minutes, they will have to defend incredibly well and be aggressive in front of goal if they want to make this game competitive. My reservation with this Austrian side is their perceived hesitation to create (and take) chances in the final third, especially against good teams.
Their game against the Dutch left a lot to be desired, they never caused the Netherlands any issues – let alone ask any serious questions. It’s almost as though they respected their opposition to much, which is strange considering they have Marko Arnautovic in their side, but then again the attacking ace was left out for that fixture.
The pressure is most certainly on Italy though, and the longer the game goes on that pressure will only exponentially increase. Austria will know this, and if they are patient enough, with a bit of luck, stranger things have happened in football. I wouldn’t completely disregard the Austrians, but only because I think they are capable of making a game out of this.
Prediction: Italy To Win To Nil (11/10)
A team that’s yet to concede at the Euro and comfortably winning their group games, you can see why I’m all over Italy here. Austria have failed to score in four of their last six games and now come up against an incredibly strong and confident Italian defence. At 11/10 for Italy to win to nil is the sort of bet you’ve got to go all in, but be prepared to have the nerves tickled an flirted with at the very least.
Written by Ryan Liberty