The long-awaited Euro 2020 tournament will begin on Friday evening, as Turkey face Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Three-hundred-and-sixty-four days after the tournament was originally set to start before being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament is finally set to get underway.
Twelve months on, many things look different from an international football perspective. Players such as Sergio Ramos and Virgil van Dijk will not feature at Euro 2020, but others, such as Karim Benzema, Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels, have returned for their respective nations.
The return of supporters
One of the main aspects to look forward to at Euro 2020 is the return of fans after over a year of empty stadiums.
There will be 15,984 fans on Friday night – 25 percent of the Stadio Olimpico’s capacity – with 2,300 Turkish fans, and Italy coach Roberto Mancini was excited to welcome supporters back.
“It will not be the 12th man as it would be if the stadium was full, but it is a first step,” Mancini stated on Thursday.
Mancini also published an emotional letter to the Italian public ahead of the Turkey fixture.
“[The year] 2020 changed our habits, we were away from each other for months and we lost our loved ones,” he wrote.
“Now we 60 million Italians will unite under the blue sky and the same song: ‘Forza Azzurri!'”
Italy have been relaunched
After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Italy have returned stronger than ever, guided by Mancini, who arrived in 2018.
“If I had faith three years ago, now I have even more,” he said.
The former Inter and Manchester City coached has guided Italy to 10 consecutive victories and they are unbeaten since September 2018.
However, Mancini was keen to highlight the threat of his opponents in Rome on Friday evening.
“Turkey are a dangerous opponent,” he said.