Group A fixtures, UK kick-off times and TV coverage
June 11 – Turkey 0-3 Italy. June 12 – Wales 1-1 Switzerland. June 16 – Turkey 0-2 Wales. Italy 3-0 Switzerland. June 20 – Italy 1-0 Wales. . Switzerland 3-1 Turkey.
Italy: Roberto Mancini has done a remarkable job with Italy who, it should not be forgotten, didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The former Manchester City boss turned his nation’s fortunes around in impressive fashion during qualifying as the Azzurri won all 10 of their matches en-route to this summer’s finals.
As a result, they now head into the tournament as one of the favourites for glory.
Turkey: Again under the stewardship of Senol Gunes at a major tournament — who guided his country to a third-place finish at the 2002 World Cup — Turkey will be hoping for a similarly long run into the latter stages of this year’s competition.
They lost only one of their 10 qualifying matches, beating world champions France along the way, so certainly have the potential to cause a few teams issues in the coming weeks.
Wales: Not only was Euro 2016 memorable for Wales because it ended a 58-year wait to play in a major tournament, but it also saw them surpass all expectations by reaching the semi-finals — only losing out to eventual winners Portugal.
Five years on, a large contingency of that group still remains, yet losing manager Ryan Giggs in the months building up to the tournament has been far from ideal preparation.
Caretaker manager Robert Page will lead the Dragons in his place, but it’s hard to envisage a similarly successful showing from them this time around.
Switzerland: Topping Group D in qualifying meant Switzerland have now reached five of the previous seven European Championship finals.
Vladimir Petkovic’s men progressed out of the group for the first time at Euro 2016, but a penalty shootout defeat to Poland meant their competition ended at the last-16 stage.
Replicating that showing this time around would be a respectable outcome, though reaching the knockout phase doesn’t look easy.
Italy will benefit from a crucial home advantage with all three of their fixtures being played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
The Olympic Stadium over 3,860km away in Baku, Azerbaijan will play host to the other remaining three Group A matches.
Pre-tournament form guide
Preparations couldn’t have gone much better for Italy who head into their opening fixture against Turkey on the back of eight consecutive victories — each of which was accompanied by a clean sheet.
Their opponents Turkey can be relatively satisfied with their recent form too, going without a loss in any of their previous six encounters (W4, D2) in a run that included an impressive 4-2 victory against the Netherlands back in March.
Wales have notably won four of their previous five home matches, yet both of their recent games on foreign soil ended in defeat (3-1 vs Belgium and 3-0 vs France). They’ll need to put that right in the coming weeks or face an early exit from the competition.
Like Italy and Turkey, confidence should be high for Switzerland after a run of six straight victories. They’ve also won three of their four competitive meetings with Wales, so will be hoping that’s a good omen when the two sides meet in the first round of matches.
The form of Italy and calibre of squad that Roberto Mancini has at his disposal rightfully makes them favourites to progress out of the group — but second place is certainly up for grabs.
While Wales have a shot, it’s Turkey and Switzerland who have impressed most in the run-up to the tournament.
Their meeting in the final group game could prove to be very significant indeed.
It’s hard to look past Italy topping the group and you would fancy them to progress deep into the latter stages of the competition.
Second place is trickier to predict, but given the impressive qualification campaign Turkey put together, we’re backing them to finish runners-up.