Few players had Roberto Mancini’s side among the favorites to lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy, but the bookies may well adjust their odds as the Italians appeared several leagues above their opponents on a damp night in Rome.
An own goal from Merih Demiral and strikes from Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne gave Italy a deserved victory, although Turkey was certainly disappointing given the talent, albeit inexperienced, at the disposal of the trainer Senol Gunes.
More severe tests were certainly awaiting Italy, but the opening game of this postponed tournament was worth the wait for the Azzurri.
For much of the match, it looked like Andrea Bocelli’s moving performance against Nessun Dorma in the Opening Ceremony would be the only highlight of the night, as both teams struggled to find a rhythm in the first exchanges.
The first chance to score in a lackluster football first half came as Insigne played a nice one-two with Italian teammate Domenico Berardi, but the Napoli striker skewed his shot when he was well placed in the penalty area.
Italy certainly dominated, but struggled to find clear chances.
Veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini’s header from a corner forced an acrobatic save from Turkish goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir, although his effort appeared to go over the crossbar.
Despite their lack of experience, the young and talented Turkish team entered Euro 2020 with high expectations. At 35, captain Burak Yilmaz, who has just helped Lille win Ligue 1, is eight years older than any other player on the team.
The forward struggled to get into the game from the start, finding himself regularly isolated as Turkey managed just 37% of possession in the first half. In fact, Yilmaz was forced to spend as much time in his own penalty area to help defend wave after wave of Italian attacks as he did in the opposing box.
Fortunately, the match was lively at the start of the second half as Italy emerged from the locker room with much greater intensity.
It only took eight minutes to break the deadlock and it was Turkish defender Demiral who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, deflecting the ball into his own net on a low cross from Domenico Berardi.
Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, even though it was only a quarter full of its 70,000 capacity due to Covid-19 restrictions, has burst and it didn’t take long for Italian fans to celebrate the number two.
Berardi was once again in the thick of the action, sending the ball to the far post for Leonardo Spinazzola, whose blocked shot fell perfectly at Immobile’s feet to drive the ball into the far corner.
Italy were on cruise control, as they had been for most of the game, and Insigne put the icing on the cake with just 10 minutes remaining.
Cakir’s capricious pass allowed Immobile to finally feed Insigne inside the box and the little winger didn’t go wrong with an emphatic first arrival.
Italy will certainly have surprised many with such an impressive performance – including tonight’s unsuspecting opponents – and have no doubt alerted the other 23 nations.
On Saturday, Switzerland will face Wales – the other two teams in Group A – while Denmark will face Finland and Russia will play Belgium in Group B.