Italy boss Mancini unwilling to settle for a draw against Wales

Date published: Saturday 19th June 2021 7:52 - News Desk

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Italy manager Roberto Mancini has insisted that they will not be willing to settle for a draw against Wales even though they are already through to the last 16.

Italy have already qualified for the round of 16 after winning their opening two games and would top Group A by avoiding defeat to Wales at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

Second-placed Wales need a point to confirm qualification for the knockout stage after drawing with Switzerland and beating Turkey in their opening two games.

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It has been suggested the scenario allows the two teams to engineer the right result. In Italy this is known as ‘Biscotto’, which literally means biscuit.

It originates from the Latin for cooked twice and the idea is apparently you cannot make a biscotto on your own, hence the double element of the name.

Mancini said: “I think the term ‘Biscotto’ is used when there are two teams that have the same goal and the result would allow them to both go through.

“That’s not an issue for us because we already have six points and are already through to the last 16.

“So we either go to London or Amsterdam, it depends on the final score, and this ‘Biscotto’ chat doesn’t pertain to us.

“We will go wherever we need to in the draw. We’re not really bothered by which team we come against.

“If we go to Amsterdam because we finish runners-up so be it. If we win the group so much the better. Our target is to win the match.”

Italy have gone 29 games unbeaten – one short of the Azzurri all-time record – and are expected to progress to a Wembley date with the runners-up in Group C, most likely Austria or Ukraine.

But Mancini is wary of the challenge Wales will present his side, particularly the physical traits he knows so well from his time as Manchester City manager between 2009 and 2013.

He said: “Wales are a very difficult side to face. They have been right up there in the FIFA world rankings for a number of years, that shows they have quality players.

“They are a British team so they have a lot of physicality and it will be a difficult match because they have already got four points.

“They have also made it to the last four of the previous European Championship, so we have to play very well.

“Wales have players like (Joe) Allen, (Gareth) Bale, (Daniel) James – and it will be a difficult match from a physical and technical perspective.”

Mancini has promised changes to his starting line-up after impressive 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland.

Captain Giorgio Chiellini misses out with a flexor problem and Paris St Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is set to make his tournament bow after injury.

“Marco needs playing time and has been training with us for a number of days. He’s fit and firing,” Mancini said.

“It’s quite likely that he will feature for some portion of the game. We will see how he is at the end of the first half and how he feels.

“We need to tweak things in terms of personnel, we would have done so even if this was a must-win fixture.

“It is our third game in the space of 10 days with 30 degree heat at a 6pm kick off. You need some fresh legs out there.”

Asked if Italy have played the best football at Euro 2020, Mancini quipped: “I don’t know if we necessarily play the best football. But we’re a group of good-looking lads, for sure.”

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