Locatelli “Does Things Right” as Italy Easily Dispose of Switzerland

“Locatelli does things right,” read a famous Italian TV commercial from the 1990s. Well, that was very true at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night as the young Sassuolo midfielder bagged a killer brace to push Roberto Mancini’s selection towards a convincing win over Switzerland in their second match of Euro 2020 Group A.

Ciro Immobile set the score at 3-0 for the Azzurri, mirroring the outcome of last Friday against Turkey and drawing even more attention on Mancini’s troops who now seriously seem like a good candidate to lift the trophy. 

Two wins in a row mean Italy have already secured their place in the knockout stage of the European competition, but Wales’ win over Turkey earlier in the day means that they will still have to fight tooth and nail in the last game to end top of the group. It’s going to be a real battle against Gareth Bale and co.

Roberto Mancini made one change versus his winning debut against Turkey, deploying Napoli’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo as right back instead of Alessandro Florenzi. Marco Verratti still didn’t recover, so Manuel Locatelli continued to back him up in midfield – and, what a blessing that turned out to be. The offensive trident, featuring Domenico Bernardi, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne was fully confirmed.

The Swiss lined up Serie A players Remo Freuler of Atalanta and Ricardo Rodriguez of Torino, on top of their coach Vladimir Petkovic who was in charge of Lazio between 2012 and 2014 and Xherdan Shaqiri who had a disappointing six-month spell at Inter.

The Italian football fandom – be it journalists or supporters – is used to pick up a “nemesis” ahead of any international game. This time, the possible danger was identified in 24-year-old Breel Embolo, but the Swiss-Cameroonian forward was easily neutralized by the Azzurri

Leonardo Spinazzola picked up from where he’d left off on Friday – basically dominating the left flank – and, on nine minutes, served Ciro Immobile the first chance of the game with a cross that the Lazio striker sent crashing above the bar.

Switzerland had had an unexpectedly aggressive start but it didn’t take much for the Azzurri to come up with some counter measures. Giorgio Chiellini should have made it to the scorecard on 18 minutes but the VAR picked up a handball on his part as he received the ball from an Insigne corner kick and slotted it home. Goal disallowed.

That was the captain’s last effort as shortly after he picked up a injury and had to make room for Francesco Acerbi. It was a short-lasting bad piece of news for Italy, who almost immediately opened the scoring.

When Italy decided to attack from the right flank, they were lethal: Domenico Berardi’s progression ended with a sharp inward pass for Locatelli. All the Sassuolo man had to do was push the ball into the back of the net from point-blank range to put the Azzurri in the driving seat. But there was more than a simple tap in in Locatelli’s goal as he was the one igniting the action with a whipping cross for Berardi along the midfield line.  

Italy had not had enough. On 33 minutes, Berardi was stopped by goalkeeper Yann Sommer, Insigne pounced on the wandering ball and tried to drive it into the top right corner of the net but Manuel Akanji headed it away right on the goal line.

Coach Petkovic made one change at half time, sending in Mario Gavranovic for Haris Seferovic. The new striker didn’t take long to make himself noticed, if only for a horrific tackle on Leonardo Bonucci that earned him a yellow card.

On 52 minutes, another chapter of the Locatelli show: The Milan-grown talent received the ball from Nicolò Barella, adjusted his aim, and fired a left-foot rocket from outside the box that left no chance to Sommer. It was 2-0 and Italy could start thinking about the next as never did Petkovic’s side give the impression they could get back in the game.

Switzerland had their first real chance of the match on 63 minutes, but Gianluigi Donnarumma showed that who will secure his services might cut a pretty good deal with a superb double save from substitute Steven Zuber.

On the other hand, Italy continued to attack despite Mancini’s defensive change of Berardi with Rafael Toloi, but Ciro Immobile wasted two favorable chances in the space of a few minutes.

It seemed that it was just not Ciro’s night, but the former Golden Boot winner promptly redeemed himself just before full time with a stunning screamer from outside the box that caught Sommer by surprise and brought Italy’s scoring tally to three. Curtains down. Celebration time at the Stadio Olimpico.



June 16, 2021 – European Championship 2020 Group A

SCORERS: 26′ Locatelli, 52′ Locatelli, 88′ Immobile

ITALY (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini (24′ Acerbi), Spinazzola; Barella (86′ Cristante), Jorginho, Locatelli (85′ Pessina); Berardi (69′ Toloi), Immobile, Insigne (69′ Chiesa) (Sirigu, Meret, Florenzi, Emerson, Raspadori, Bastoni, Bernardeschi, Belotti) Coach: Mancini
SWITZERLAND (3-4-1-2): Sommer; Elvedi, Schar (57′ Zuber), Akanji; Mbabu (58′ Widmer), Freuler (84′ Sow), Xhaka, Rodriguez; Shaqiri (76′ Vargas); Seferovic (46′ Gavranovic), Embolo (Kobel, Mvogo, Benito, Comert, Zakaria, Fassnacht, Mehmedi) Coach: Petkovic

REFEREE: Karasev (Russia)
NOTES: Yellow Card: Gavranovic (S); Extra Time: 1st Half 2′, 2nd Half 3′