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Italy v Wales “We have more pride and fighting spirit than anyone else here “
Sunday, 20th Jun 2021 09:00 by Gruff Stephens

Wales may well have to rely on more than their footballing ability to get anything from today’s game in Rome. Gareth Bale has already stated that this side has more pride and fighting spirit than any other side in the competition. Well, today that will most certainly be put to the test.

It’s hard for Robert Page to change anything when you look at the results to date in Group A. Four points amassed already when let’s be honest many thought there would be none. Rank outsiders to get out of the group, Wales are now a draw away from qualification to the last sixteen. Even if they lose and Turkey beat Switzerland, Wales will have qualified in second place. If Switzerland beat Turkey they have a five goal swing to catch up on Wales, hence then the thinking of Page may well be more defensive than previously. The last thing he needs is to allow Italy another three goal win.

So, as much as this game is important all eyes will be on Baku as well, the hope being Turkey see the value in going for the win as they could qualify as best third placed country.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini stated yesterday evening “ Wales are very strong, physically strong, they have great ability from certain players, players who can win games anywhere. They have Gareth Bale who is still one of the best in Europe, we know what to expect” Italy are breaking record after record: they haven't conceded goals in many games and haven't lost in their last 29 matches. Mancini is catching Vittorio Pozzo's record of 30 unbeaten games. Not conceding is an important factor in tournaments like this. Six goals scored and zero conceded in the European Championship is certainly a great start. Associated press reports though will have angered Mancini, they have stated he will play reserves and indicated Italy would may well prefer a second placed group finish.

“There’s a lot of energy and a great atmosphere in this national team, which the coach deserves credit for. He’s really brought in a lot of enthusiasm,” said winger Federico Chiesa, who is expected to replace Lorenzo Insigne on the forward line. “We have 26 starters and if I’m called upon I’ll make myself ready,” Chiesa said. “Every single one of us has a role to carry out to reach our goal. We’re here to go all the way.”

Wales have less to think about other than keeping the score line down according to certain media reports. ‘That’ Wales hero against Turkey thinks differently. “No pressure. We’ll go there and enjoy ourselves and if we can get our good players on the ball and a couple of us have a good night, then who knows? We might get a decent result,” said Wales right back Connor Roberts. Gareth Bale stated in his first interview after arriving in Italy “We know the country is right behind us, we owe them everything. We will be prepared and intend to reward everyone with the right result. We haven’t qualified yet, but you can almost touch it, we have been here before. We've got energy, grit and determination”

Robert Page told the BBC in the Olympic stadium last night “ We are going for the win, the pressure is slightly off and there’s a lot of things to go against us if we are to fail. Italy are class, they have goals in the team, it’s going to be a battle. We have enjoyed every game and if we don’t get the win, I’m sure we will get a point “

Despite warnings Wales followers will be at the game, and many more than was seen in Baku are expected. We will update everyone later in the day with team news and associated reports on this evenings game.

Photographs licensed from Reuters

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