Karim Benzema will hope to build upon a return to the international scoresheet when France take on Switzerland in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

Benzema netted both his team's goals in 2-2 draw with Portugal that secured top spot in Group F for Les Bleus last time out – his first since the end of an exile from the national team that began in 2015.

In his only previous appearance against Switzerland at the 2014 World Cup, the 33-year-old Real Madrid forward scored twice and supplied an assist in a resounding 5-2 win.

Indeed, this will be the fifth meeting between the teams at a major tournament and France are unbeaten in the previous four, with their most recent encounter at Euro 2016 finishing goalless.

If the identity of a France front three featuring Benzema, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe feels fairly settled, Didier Deschamps' starting formation has become a matter for debate.

 

A report by L'Equipe du Soir claimed a number of players have asked the coaching staff to revert to a 3-4-3 system

Jules Kounde started at right-back against Portugal but is a doubt for Monday's game in Bucharest with a hamstring problem and, while Lucas Hernandez is back in training after a knee complaint forced him off at half-time in the previous match, Lucas Digne (thigh) is out, meaning Deschamps has plenty to ponder whether operating with a back three or a back four.

"They’re a well-structured team and they have good attacking potential with [Haris] Seferovic, [Breel] Embolo and [Xherdan] Shaqiri," the World Cup-winning coach said of Switzerland.

"We must not underestimate them and it's a knockout game so we’ll have to do everything we can to ensure we have smiles on our faces at the end of the match."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

France – Kylian Mbappe

While Benzema is now off and running for the tournament and Griezmann netted the equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Hungary, Mbappe is yet to get off the mark – a state of affairs that surely cannot continue much longer for the Paris Saint-Germain superstar. Mbappe has no goals from eight shots in the tournament with a combined expected goals (xG) value of 1.3.

 

Switzerland – Xherdan Shaqiri

One man who had no problem in front of goal during the final round of group stage matches was Liverpool attacker Shaqiri, upon whom Switzerland will again pin plenty of their hopes. His brace against Turkey made him Switzerland's all-time leading scorer in major tournaments with seven, overtaking Josef Hugi (six).

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Switzerland have reached the knockout stages at each of their past four major tournaments. They were eliminated in their first match following the group stages on each of those previous three instances.
- France have only lost one of their previous 17 matches at the Euros and World Cup combined (W12 D4) – the Euro 2016 final against Portugal.
- Switzerland will face the reigning world champions at a major tournament for the first time. Overall, they have won only three of their 20 matches against reigning world champions (D9 L8), with this their first such match since a 1-1 draw with Italy in June 2010.
- France progressed the ball upfield 18.7 metres per sequence on average during the group stages, the highest figure of any side, highlighting their ability to advance the ball after regaining possession.
- Griezmann has played in each of France's past 51 matches, a run that started on August 31, 2017 against the Netherlands. The Barcelona forward is the only player to make 50+ appearances for a European country since that date.

Presnel Kimpembe has defended team-mate Kylian Mbappe after the forward was criticised by former player Jerome Rothen for putting himself first over the team.

Mbappe failed to score or assist a goal in France's three Euro 2020 group matches, but Les Blues still advanced with draws against Hungary and Portugal after beating Germany.

The Paris Saint-Germain star's eight attempts are the most of any France player in the tournament, but he found the target from just three of those.

Only three players – Gerard Moreno (nine), Burak Yilmaz and Martin Braithwaite (both 10) – had more attempts in the group phase without scoring.

Mbappe is four games without a goal overall, meanwhile, and ex-PSG winger Rothen has suggested the 22-year-old's ego is hindering his performances.

"There's no problem with Mbappe being the leader on the field, but when it goes beyond the field then it annoys me," Rothen, who earned 13 senior caps for France, told RMC Sport.

"I don't think Didier Deschamps can handle it anymore and it is becoming troublesome. It's amazing Kylian is allowed to do so many things. His ego is inordinate and is a problem."

 

Mbappe created three chances in the games against Germany, Hungary and Portugal, which is one fewer than Paul Pogba and three fewer than Antoine Griezmann.

But Kimpembe has no concerns over Mbappe's form and believes it is just a matter of time before he starts scoring goals again.

"There is still a long way to go in the competition," he said at a news conference on Saturday ahead of France's last-16 tie with Switzerland. 

"Scoring will not be a problem for him. He is also there to provide for the rest of the team. He is creating a lot of chances.

"He is not scoring but is playing a part in the team's offensive actions and is happy to help others – that is the most important thing for the team. Above all, the results are most important."

France's entertaining 2-2 draw with Portugal on Wednesday saw them finish top of Group F and set up a meeting with Switzerland in Bucharest on Monday.

Should Les Blues pass their first knockout-round test, they are on course to face either Spain or Croatia – the side they beat in the 2018 World Cup final – in the quarter-finals.

And while France managed just one win in their three group fixtures, Kimpembe was eager to put things into perspective after topping an extremely tough group. 

"To come out on top in the group of death, I'll take that," Kimpembe said. "What would you rather: finish first with a few problems, or second and third with good performances?

"You have to put things into perspective and look at the bright side. The objective was to finish first, which we've achieved. We are very happy about that."

France have now gone two years since their last competitive defeat, which came against Turkey in a European Championship qualifier in June 2019.

We had to wait an extra year, but the Euro 2020 group stage threw up drama and records – and in terms of goals it delivered magnificently.

With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku hitting their stride, it was a feast for the strikers, with 94 goals scored across the 36 games.

That represented a massive raising of the bar after only 69 goals were netted at the same stage in the 2016 tournament.

Here, Stats Perform looks at the most eye-catching numbers that defined the first 13 days of this delayed tournament – ahead of the do-or-die knockout stage getting under way.

 

Ronaldo making up for lost time

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score as many as five goals in the group stages of a single European Championship since Michel Platini bagged seven for France in 1984, on his way to a nine-goal tournament tally. Three of Ronaldo's goals for Portugal at this tournament have been penalties, while Platini netted just one spot-kick during France's run 37 years ago.

Impressively, Platini's goals in 1984 came from an expected goals (xG) rate of just 3.32, while Ronaldo has recorded his five from a total of 4.71 so far. Opta builds its expected goals data by measuring the quality of an attempt based on variables such as assist type, shot angle and distance from goal, whether it was a headed shot and whether it was defined as a big chance. It means Ronaldo has put away approximately the number of goals he should have expected to score.

Ronaldo scored twice from the penalty spot in Wednesday's 2-2 draw with France, the first game in the history of the Euros to see three spot-kicks scored, excluding shoot-outs.

Defending champions Portugal have been far from perfect, however, dropping a competition-high five points from winning positions.

While Ronaldo has the most goals of any player so far in these finals, he has not been able to keep up with the rising tide of own goals. There have been a staggering eight, as many as were scored between the 1980 and 2016 editions combined.

 

Firing range

Why wait until seeing the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes before offloading a shot?

Patrik Schick had one quick glance towards David Marshall's goal and let fly from 49.7 yards at Hampden Park to put the Czech Republic 2-0 in front against Scotland. That incredible moment gave Schick the longest-range strike on record at the European Championship, with such measured distances available from the 1980 tournament onwards.

There were 304 shots from outside the penalty area in the group stage, but only 12 goals scored from such long range. That ratio of one goal for every 25.3 shots from long distance was nevertheless an improvement on the Euro 2016 numbers, when just 16 goals from outside the area were scored from 638 attempts across the whole tournament – one every 39.9 shots.

 

Low Countries, tall targets

Belgium and the Netherlands are nations who have experienced mixed fortunes on the football field in the 21st century, but both will feel a big moment could be arriving.

The Belgian Red Devils were absent from all major tournaments between their appearances at the 2002 and 2014 World Cups, while the Dutch were conspicuous by their absence from Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Lukaku, with three goals so far, has been a terrific spearhead of the Belgium side, netting 50 per cent of the goals their players have netted (excluding own goals) at Euro 2020 despite only taking 22 per cent of their shots – seven of 32 attempts.

If Lukaku keeps firing, with Kevin De Bruyne and co prompting from midfield, then Belgium, who have never won a World Cup or European Championship, have a strong chance to show why they are ranked by FIFA as the world's number one team.

Belgium exceeded their collective xG tally by 3.15 – scoring seven against xG of 3.85 – the highest number by which any side surpassed their expected goals in their opening three games.

Their neighbours, the Netherlands, have also caught the eye. Ronald Koeman lifted the Oranje from their doldrums and successor Ronald de Boer has guided the team through the group stage as top scorers and with a 100 per cent record.

That Group C success, with eight goals scored and two conceded, came on the back of Georginio Wijnaldum scoring three times. In doing so, he has overtaken Marco van Basten and Dirk Kuyt on the list of the Netherlands' leading international goalscorers, moving to 25, one ahead of the former Milan and Liverpool forwards.

Or, to put it another way, Wijnaldum is halfway to matching Robin van Persie's record haul of 50 international goals.

 

Boring, boring England?

England, by netting only twice, became the lowest-scoring side to ever finish top of a group at a European Championship. They did not so much storm through Group D as plod a methodical path through to the last-16 stage, although an xG of 4.45 suggests England have at least been creating chances, albeit not finishing as well as they might.

Yet England might yet go far. Germany visit Wembley next Tuesday and will encounter English players who have only been dribbled past 12 times in the group stage, the lowest number among all competing teams. England's expected goals against (xGA) tally is a miserly 1.33, the second lowest in the tournament behind an Italy side (1.3) who have got it right at both ends of the pitch to.

Turkey's players were dribbled past on 36 occasions, a group-stage high, and only North Macedonia (8.85) had a higher xGA than Senol Gunes' team (7.69), who failed to live up to 'dark horse' expectations.

 

Riding their luck? Or being all out of it?

Wales conceded just twice, defying an xGA total of 5.47, and reached the knockout stage on the back of that. The gap of 3.47 between expectation and reality with that metric was the highest among all competing teams.

Conversely, Scotland scored just once against an xG of 4.00 – with 3.00 the highest negative difference between xG and goals scored.

Russia bowed out, and could hardly blame anyone but themselves. Their players made three errors leading to goals – more than any other side and the joint-most by any nation at a finals going back to 1980, the point from which records are available.

Hungary also exited the tournament. They predictably finished last in the 'group of death' – adrift of France, Germany and Portugal – but Hungary were surprisingly ahead for more minutes and trailed for fewer than any other team in that Group F campaign.

Denmark squeezed through in second place behind Belgium in Group B, becoming the first team in European Championship history to reach the knockout stages of the competition having lost their first two group stage games. After the alarm of the Christian Eriksen situation, many would love them to go further.

Would you Luka that!

Luka Modric became the oldest player to score for Croatia at the Euros, netting a gorgeous strike in the 3-1 win against Scotland at the age of 35 years and 286 days. That made it an unusual double for the veteran playmaker, who also holds the record for being Croatia's youngest scorer at the tournament (22 years 73 days versus Austria in 2008).

Modric continues to marvel, and there was a slice of history for another midfielder in the group stage as Switzerland's Steven Zuber became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game – doing so against Turkey – after Portugal's Rui Costa in his rampaging 2000 display that tormented England and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 against Yugoslavia.

France, England, Switzerland, Sweden and the Czech Republic qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2020 due to results on Monday.

With Finland and Ukraine finishing on three points in Group B and C respectively, four nations were guaranteed to advance ahead of their third matches of the tournament and Switzerland's spot in the next stage was also sealed.

Finland and Ukraine can only watch on and hope they can scrape through as one of the best four third-placed teams after they suffered defeats in their final group games, both finishing with three points.

A 2-0 defeat to Belgium resulted in Finland missing out on second place to Denmark, who knocked Russia out with a resounding 4-1 win in Copenhagen.

Ukraine were beaten 1-0 by Austria earlier in the day, missing out on a top-two spot to Franco Foda's side - who progressed from the group stage for the first time in a European Championship.

Switzerland will qualify along with Italy and Wales in Group A, having amassed four points.

The Czech Republic and England meet at Wembley on Tuesday knowing they will go through, as they both have four points to their name.

The same goes for Group F leaders and world champions France ahead of their final match against holders Portugal on Wednesday.

Group E leaders Sweden will start their encounter with Poland on Wednesday knowing even a defeat would see them through, as they lead the way with four points.

France, England, Switzerland, Sweden and the Czech Republic qualified for the last 16 of Euro 2020 due to results on Monday.

With Finland and Ukraine finishing on three points in Group B and C respectively, four nations were guaranteed to advance ahead of their third matches of the tournament and Switzerland's spot in the next stage was also sealed.

Finland and Ukraine can only watch on and hope they can scrape through as one of the best four third-placed teams after they suffered defeats in their final group games, both finishing with three points.

A 2-0 defeat to Belgium resulted in Finland missing out on second place to Denmark, who knocked Russia out with a resounding 4-1 win in Copenhagen.

Ukraine were beaten 1-0 by Austria earlier in the day, missing out on a top-two spot to Franco Foda's side - who progressed from the group stage for the first time in a European Championship.

Switzerland will qualify along with Italy and Wales in Group A, having amassed four points.

The Czech Republic and England meet at Wembley on Tuesday knowing they will go through, as they both have four points to their name.

The same goes for Group F leaders and world champions France ahead of their final match against holders Portugal on Wednesday.

Group E leaders Sweden will start their encounter with Poland on Wednesday knowing even a defeat would see them through, as they lead the way with four points.

Turkey boss Senol Gunes admitted his team "were not good enough" after a desperate Euro 2020 campaign ended with a third straight group-stage defeat.

Having already lost to Italy and Wales in their opening two fixtures, Turkey crashed out without a single point to their name as they were beaten 3-1 by Switzerland on Sunday.

Speaking after the match, Gunes shared his belief that Turkey never recovered from a 3-0 defeat to Italy first up, though he insisted his young squad will be capable of delivering in future tournaments.

He said: "We are aware that we were not good enough. The first match had such a negative effect on my players. That can happen.

"But those players will play for Turkey for many years and they will succeed like before."

Turkey's squad was among the youngest in the tournament, and Milan playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu echoed the sentiments of his manager 

"This tournament was such a disappointment for us. We have to learn from our mistakes but we won't lower our heads," he said.

"This is a very young team and it will definitely get better."

After firing Lille to a shock Ligue 1 title success this season, Turkey striker Burak Yilmaz failed to find the back of the net in Euro 2020.

The 35-year-old suggested he and his countrymen have lessons to learn if they are to succeed at the top level.

He said: "We could not handle playing in such a big tournament, I have to admit.

"We've qualified for the Euros, we are going really well in World Cup qualification, but I can see that we need to learn how to play these tournaments.

"That's a lesson we have to learn."

Switzerland came into their meeting with Turkey knowing that only a win would give them any chance of progressing to the knockout stages, after also losing 3-0 to Italy and being held by Wales.

And they were dragged to all three points by Xherdan Shaqiri, who scored once in each half to keep his country's hopes alive.

Reflecting on the match, Shaqiri said: "It was very important to show a reaction after the game against Italy and be more unified as a team.

"We did that from the very beginning and played our game."

Despite their best efforts, Switzerland were only able to secure third place in the group as Wales kept hold of second place by only suffering a 1-0 defeat to Italy.

Now the Swiss face a nervous wait to see if they are able to progress as one of four best third-placed teams.

Shaqiri added: "We have to wait for the other games to see what's going to happen. We just to wait and hope it will be enough to reach the next round and then we will have to start again."

Italy wrapped up a wonderful Group A campaign on Sunday as they overcame Wales 1-0 in Rome. 

The win ensured Italy finished top of their Euro 2020 group, while Wales claimed second place ahead of Switzerland, who eased past Turkey 3-1 in the day's other game.

Vladimir Petkovic's Swiss side will have to wait until the group stage finishes on Wednesday to know if they progress to the last 16 as one of the best third-placed finishers, but a fine display in Baku has put them in a strong position.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at some of the best facts from the two games.

Italy 1-0 Wales: Azzurri match historic record

Italy's superb start to Euro 2020 continued as a third win in as many games sealed top spot in Group A.

Roberto Mancini's side are now unbeaten in 30 matches in all competitions (W25 D5) since losing against Portugal in September 2018, equalling the longest unbeaten run in their history, which was set between 1935 and 1939.

The decisive goal against Wales came in the 39th minute, Matteo Pessina becoming the youngest Italian player to score on his first start at a major tournament since Antonio Cassano at Euro 2004.

Welsh hopes of clawing their way back into the game were hit in the second half when Ethan Ampadu saw red.

Aged 20 years and 279 days, Ampadu became the second-youngest player to be sent off in a European Championship match after John Heitinga (20 years 217 days) for the Netherlands against Czech Republic in 2004, while Ampadu is the outright youngest to be shown a straight red.

Wales' failure to find the back of the net means Italy have kept a clean sheet in each of their last 11 matches in all competitions, only going on a longer run once before in their history – 12 games without conceding between 1972 and 1974.

Wales, however, had cause for celebration as they have now reached the knockout stages in all three of their appearances at major tournaments.

Switzerland 3-1 Turkey: Shaqiri gives Swiss hope of last-16 spot

Switzerland left it late in the group stage but belatedly turned on the style to give their chances of progressing to the knockout stages a significant boost.

It was a wonderful game, full of attacking threat from both sides, and 42 shots were attempted – a record for a group-stage game at the European Championship.

Two of those shots saw Switzerland go in at the break with a healthy lead. Haris Seferovic and Xherdan Shaqiri both scored from outside the penalty area, becoming the first Swiss players to do so at any European Championship, with each of their nine goals in the competition before Sunday coming from inside the area.

Irfan Can Kahveci pulled one back for Turkey, but Shaqiri scored again to become Switzerland's outright top scorer at major tournaments (seven – four at the World Cup and three at the European Championship).

Steven Zuber was the provider for all three of Switzerland's goals, meaning he became only the third player since 1980 to register three assists in a single European Championship game, after Portugal's Rui Costa in 2000 (v England) and Denmark's Michael Laudrup in 1984 (v Yugoslavia).

Turkey, meanwhile, became just the second nation to lose all three group-stage matches at more than one edition of the competition, having also suffered this fate at their debut tournament in 1996. Denmark were the first to suffer that fate, in 1988 and 2000.

Switzerland significantly boosted their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages at Euro 2020 by beating Turkey 3-1 in their final Group A game. 

Vladimir Petkovic's side finished behind Italy and Wales in their group and face an anxious wait to see if they will progress as one of the four best third-placed teams, although a superb display in Baku has put them in a strong position. 

Haris Seferovic got them on their way early on from 20 yards before another fine strike from Xherdan Shaqiri put them two goals up at the break. 

Irfan Can Kahveci pulled one back for Turkey, but Shaqiri wrapped up Switzerland's first win of the tournament – and ensured their opponents leave the competition having failed to pick up a single point – with another wonderful finish. 

Despite Turkey's strong start, which saw Kaan Ayhan test Yann Sommer from distance, it was Switzerland who struck first, Seferovic lashing into Ugurcan Cakir's bottom-left corner after just six minutes. 

Shaqiri doubled their advantage in the 26th minute, the Liverpool forward whipping superbly past Cakir from just outside the penalty area. 

A smart save from Cakir denied a clean-through Shaqiri moments later as Switzerland threatened to run away with it, while at the other end Sommer kept out the impressive Mert Muldur on three occasions before the interval.

Switzerland continued to pour forward after the restart, with Cakir doing well to repel efforts from Breel Embolo and Seferovic, but Kahveci gave Turkey hope of a comeback with a sumptuous strike from outside the area after 62 minutes. 

Shaqiri restored Switzerland's two-goal advantage six minutes later, though, the 29-year-old applying a clinical finishing touch to Steven Zuber's pass, the Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder becoming only the third player to register three assists in a single match at the European Championship.

Granit Xhaka struck the post late on as Switzerland sought in vain to overturn a goal deficit to second-placed Wales, settling instead for sending an insipid Turkey home with a whimper.

Vladimir Petkovic has asked for "solidarity" and "positivity" from Switzerland supporters ahead of the crunch Euro 2020 Group A match against Turkey on Sunday. 

A 1-1 draw with Wales was followed by a resounding 3-0 defeat to Italy to leave Switzerland's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages hanging by a thread. 

They will need to beat Turkey and hope Wales lose to Italy in the group's other game to secure a top-two finish. 

Petkovic and his players have come under intense scrutiny since the Italy defeat, but the head coach has called on Switzerland supporters to get behind the team for Sunday's clash in Baku. 

"Against Turkey we have another chance to qualify for the round of 16 and we have to bring all of our values and virtues back to the pitch, in addition to the correct tactical plan, solidarity, joy and respect. Then we can do it," he wrote in an open letter published in Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Wochenende.

"We do not always do what you expect from us. We are people who try to meet these demands, but unfortunately we do not always succeed. And that is why we need the support of all of you before this crucial game. 

"Your solidarity, your positivity. We will do everything we can to ensure that we can all be happy together on Sunday evening."

Turkey, meanwhile, have endured a dismal campaign so far, suffering defeats to Italy and Wales in their opening two games. 

They cannot finish in the top two and must beat Switzerland to come third in the group.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland – Granit Xhaka

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka was criticised by TV pundits in Switzerland for his display in the defeat to Italy. 

Despite that, no Switzerland player has made more passes (153), had more touches (172) or made more tackles (five) than the 28-year-old at Euro 2020 so far. 

If they are going to get the win they need against Turkey, Xhaka will need to be at his best.

Turkey – Burak Yilmaz

Yilmaz enjoyed a stellar season with Lille as they swept to Ligue 1 glory but he has not got going at this tournament yet. 

He was involved in 50 per cent of Turkey’s 18 shots against Wales last time out (six shots, three chances created), although just one of those attempts was on target. 

This could be the last major tournament for the 35-year-old and he will be desperate to make his mark against the Swiss.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the second meeting between Switzerland and Turkey at a major tournament. Their first encounter was in the group phase of Euro 2008 where Switzerland, as co-hosts, lost 2-1 to Turkey.
- The last five games between Switzerland and Turkey have produced 17 goals, an average of 3.4 per game.
- Switzerland (D1 L1) are looking to avoid remaining winless in all three of their group stage games at a major tournament for the first time since Euro 2004.
- Turkey have lost both of their games at Euro 2020, by an aggregate score of 0-5. In a full tournament, only Denmark in 2000 (eight) have conceded more goals without reply.
- Switzerland's loss against Italy was their first defeat in all competitions in 2021. The Swiss last lost consecutive matches in October 2020 (vs Croatia and Spain).

Roberto Mancini said that Domenico Berardi and Manuel Locatelli did "what I'm always asking them to do" in combining for Italy's first goal in a 3-0 win over Switzerland.

The result, which came courtesy of a Locatelli brace and a third goal added by Ciro Immobile, confirmed Italy's place in the knockout stage of Euro 2020 after just two games played.

Mancini's men dominated the contest at Stadio Olimpico and were rewarded with a second consecutive 3-0 victory, having beaten Turkey by the same scoreline in their opening Group A match.

Mancini hailed his side's performance, telling reporters: "Switzerland are a strong side. We knew it would be a tough game and it was.

"We created several chances and we deserved the victory. We were struggling in the opening minutes, but then we pressed them high and forced them to make mistakes.

"The lads did really well. It wasn't easy; it was their second game in five days and it's so hot."

He picked out his side's opening goal for special praise, having seen Locatelli start the move in midfield before latching onto Berardi's cross to score from close range.

"This is exactly what the lads have to do, what I'm always asking them to do," said Mancini.

"Always believe that it can be the right chance, as Locatelli did by following the action after his pass to Berardi in midfield."

Mancini's opposite number Vladimir Petkovic faces an uphill struggle to progress from Group A, having taken one point from their games against Wales and Italy.

Switzerland face Turkey in Baku in their final group game, and Petkovic said they must remain committed to their task.

"Many things didn't work for us tonight, and plenty worked for Italy. The truth lies in the middle," he said. 

"Congratulations to Italy – they play great football, and have for some time.

"Everyone deserves to be disappointed tonight, but tomorrow from the first training session we move on. I spoke to the team and told them there's a match left, and three points could get us to the next round."

Roberto Mancini took over Italy's national team with the Azzurri at their lowest ebb. Absent from the 2018 World Cup after failing to qualify for the first time since 1958, Italy required a rebuild, with Mancini trusted to be the architect.

To use perhaps the most exhausted of cliches, Rome wasn't built in a day. But, at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday, Mancini saw his efforts in reconstructing this perennial power of international football bear fruit as Italy became the first team to book their place in the last 16 of Euro 2020.

Following a dazzling performance in the tournament's opening fixture that saw them sweep aside Turkey 3-0 last Friday, Italy were similarly superb here, making light work of Switzerland as Manuel Locatelli's double sealed a triumph by the same scoreline.

The contrast between the team that progressed to the knockouts in front of a delighted if relatively small and socially distanced home crowd and the one that was held to a 0-0 draw by Sweden in the second leg of the World Cup qualification play-off in 2017 is stark.

Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Jorginho and Ciro Immobile were all in the starting XI on that chastening night at San Siro and were picked by Mancini to help Italy past Vladimir Petkovic's side, though Chiellini had to withdraw through injury in the first half shortly after seeing what looked to be the opening goal chalked off by VAR for handball.

Yet there are key differences in both personnel and system. Whereas Gian Piero Ventura played a 3-5-2 with wingbacks Alessandro Florenzi and Matteo Darmian asked to provide both defensive protection and attacking creativity from wide areas with Immobile paired with the often immobile Manolo Gabbiadini, Mancini continues to get results from a much more expansive 4-3-3.

In that set-up on Wednesday, Immobile thrived playing in a front three alongside the energetic presences of Lorenzo Insigne and Domenico Berardi, taking a game-high four shots and becoming the first player to score in Italy's first two games at a major tournament since Christian Vieri at the 2002 World Cup as he rounded off an excellent display.

Behind that trio, Jorginho -- who had patrolled the middle of the park along with two players in their 30s in Marco Parolo and Antonio Candreva against Sweden -- had the 24-year-old Nicolo Barella and 23-year-old Locatelli for company in midfield.

 

And it was Sassuolo team-mates Berardi and Locatelli who shone brightest on this latest showcase of Italy's credentials as contenders for the title.

That duo have been pivotal to one of the most entertaining sides in Serie A, Berardi creating 58 chances for Sassuolo while Locatelli teed up 38.

Their understanding was there for all to see when Italy did open the scoring after Switzerland's earlier reprieve. Locatelli volleyed the ball out to the right to Berardi, who surged down the flank before pulling back for his club-mate, whose desire to charge into the box from inside his own half was rewarded with a tap-in.

Berardi has now been involved in five goals in his last six appearances for Italy, but it was Barella who teed Locatelli up for one of the fiercest strikes of the competition so far as he powered into the bottom-left corner to become Italy's third-youngest scorer of a brace at a major tournament behind Giacomo Bulgarelli (v Switzerland in 1962) and Mario Balotelli (v Germany in 2012).

Immobile added the finishing touches, with help from poor goalkeeping from Yann Sommer, as Italy made it 31 goals without reply in all competitions, a 10th successive clean sheet never threatened by an uninspiring Switzerland team.

Those two statistics illustrate just how drastic the turnaround has been under Mancini. Italy could not muster a goal over two legs against Sweden in 2017, now they attack with verve and incisiveness that suggests they could score each time they go forward.

With the old guard still as dependable as ever at the back, Italy have a solid spine and a crop of talented playmakers that have helped revitalise a team that looked to be a fading force in international football. Turkey and Switzerland have offered little in way of a challenge to Mancini's men, but that combination could be one that makes this delayed European Championship worth the wait for the Azzurri.

Roberto Mancini's Italy side scored three goals once again as they stormed into the last 16 of Euro 2020 with a 3-0 rout of Switzerland.

Italy leapfrogged Wales to the top of Group A, with Robert Page's team having beat Turkey earlier on Wednesday to give themselves a great chance of making the knockout stages.

Gareth Bale was heavily involved, teeing up both of Wales' goals either side of missing a penalty.

Elsewhere, Russia beat Finland 1-0 in Saint Petersburg to inject life into their hopes in Group B.

Italy 3-0 Switzerland: Mancini's Azzurri in rampant form

It is now 10 wins on the bounce for Italy, with 10 clean sheets to boot, and Mancini is just one game away from matching the all-time Azzurri record of 30 games unbeaten, set by Vittorio Pozzo in the 1930s.

Remarkably, Italy had never scored three goals in a Euros match before their win over Turkey on Friday. Their successive 3-0 victories make them only the second side in European Championship history to open their tournament with consecutive wins by a three-goal margin, after the Netherlands in 2008 (3-0 v Italy, 4-1 v France).

Manuel Locatelli's double – his first for club or country – put the hosts in control at Stadio Olimpico. Only Giacomo Bulgarelli (v Switzerland in 1962) and Mario Balotelli (v Germany in 2012) have scored a brace for Italy at a major tournament at a younger age than the Sassuolo midfielder (23 years, 159 days).

Ciro Immobile rounded the win off late on with his second goal of the tournament. 

The Lazio star is the first player to score in Italy's opening two games of a major tournament since Christian Vieri at the 2002 World Cup.

Turkey 0-2 Wales: Bale spares his own blushes

Excluding penalty shootouts, Bale became the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a penalty at the Euros since Raul did so for Spain against France at the 2000 tournament when the Wales captain blazed over from 12 yards midway through the second half in Baku.

Bale had previously set up Aaron Ramsey for Wales' opener in a frantic Group A clash, playing a fantastic pass over Turkey's defence – one of four chances the duo created for each other.

The 31-year-old, who created five chances in total, the record in a Euros game since at least 1980, atoned for his miss in style, charging in from a stoppage-time corner to tee up Connor Roberts to settle the contest and put Wales well in with a shout of a last-16 place.

Only world champions France (six) have won more games across Euro 2016 and Euro 2020 than Wales, who have now triumphed in five of their eight matches in the competition, boasting the highest winning percentage of all sides to have played at any European Championships (63).

Wales remain unbeaten in their six matches across all competitions in Baku (W4 D2), keeping clean sheets in each victory, while no side has suffered more defeats in the group stages of the competition than Turkey (nine, level with Russia).

Finland 0-1 Russia: Miranchuk ends goal drought 

Aleksey Miranchuk scored his first goal for Russia since November 2019 – a run of nine appearances – to secure the three points against Finland in Wednesday's early game.

The win keeps Russia's chances of qualifying for the knockout stages alive, and a Denmark victory over Belgium on Thursday would throw Group B wide open.

It was Russia's first win at the Euros since they beat the Czech Republic in 2012 (4-1) – ending a six-match winless run in the competition.

Miranchuk's goal, timed at 46:21, came after the longest wait for a shot on target in a game at Euro 2020 so far.

Since 1980, only Sweden at Euro 2016 (0) have managed fewer shots on target in their opening two games of a single European Championships tournament than Finland (two).

Italy became the first team to reach the Euro 2020 knockout stage after Manuel Locatelli scored twice in a 3-0 victory over Switzerland in Group A.

Locatelli scored in-form Italy's 29th goal without reply to put them ahead at Stadio Olimpico, where Switzerland failed to land a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.

The Sassuolo midfielder struck again early in the second half and Ciro Immobile added a third to ensure the scoreline reflected their dominance on a night when Roberto Mancini's men showed their 3-0 opening-game win over Turkey was no flash in the pan.

Switzerland must beat Turkey in their final group game to retain hope of finishing in the top two in Group A, while Italy can rest players when they face Wales.

Giorgio Chiellini had the ball in the net after 18 minutes but his close-range strike was ruled out for handball in the build-up following a VAR review, before the veteran defender left the field with a hamstring injury.

Italy deservedly took the lead after 25 minutes when Jorginho set Domenico Berardi free down the right and he crossed for Locatelli to score with a low finish from six yards.

The second half was just six minutes old when Locatelli struck again, collecting Nicola Barella's pass on the edge of the Switzerland penalty area before unleashing a left-footed drive into the net.

Gianluigi Donnarumma made a strong low save to prevent Steven Zuber from scoring with an angled close-range drive in what proved to be the nearest Switzerland would come to finding the net.

With one minute left on the clock, Immobile scored from just outside the box with a powerful right-footed shot, becoming the first player to score in Italy's opening two games at a major tournament since Christian Vieri at the 2002 World Cup.

What does it mean? Italy impenetrable, even without Chiellini

Italy have gone 965 minutes without conceding a goal, and they are building a formidable finals campaign on the firmest of foundations at Euro 2020.

Francesco Acerbi represented a seamless replacement for Chiellini, who can now be given a breather ahead of the knockout stage as he recovers from injury.

Locatelli at the double

Italy proved they are a team with goals throughout as Locatelli became their third player to score a brace at the Euros after Mario Balotelli against Germany in 2012 and Pierluigi Casiraghi against Russia in 1996.

Locatelli is the first player to score from outside the box for Italy at the Euros since Andrea Pirlo did so against Croatia in 2012.

Seferovic's struggle continues

Haris Seferovic has now made six appearances in European Championships but has yet to score, and failed to add to his 13 tournament shots before he was replaced by Mario Gavranovic at the start of the second half.

What's next?

Italy are back in the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday as they face Wales, while Switzerland travel to Baku to take on Turkey in their final Group A match.

Switzerland will aim to defeat Italy for the first time in 28 years on Wednesday and breathe new life into their Euro 2020 campaign.

The Azzurri were in impressive form as they opened the tournament with a 3-0 defeat of Turkey, extending their recent run to nine consecutive victories without conceding a goal.

Switzerland dominated much of their Group A opener against Wales but saw a Kieffer Moore header cancel out Breel Embolo's opener in Baku.

That result means Vladimir Petkovic's side could become the first team in European Championship history to draw five consecutive matches should they fail to beat Italy.

History is not on their side – Switzerland last defeated Italy in Bern in World Cup qualifying in 1993.

Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini was playing that day and is wary of underestimating their opponents at Stadio Olimpico, particularly with Petkovic having had two years experience at this very venue while in charge of Lazio from 2012 to 2014.

"We know Switzerland are a team who have always caused problems for Italy," said Mancini. "They're in the top 10 or 12 of the rankings and have been for a number of years, and they have a coach in Vladimir Petkovic who knows Italian football inside out.

"It was their opening game, it was very hot, so I think they struggled because of that. We also have them in our group for World Cup qualifying so we know they're a good team, full of talented, skilful players, so we need to produce a flawless performance and make sure we don't make any mistakes."

Marco Verratti could be fit enough for a place on the bench after missing the win over Turkey, although full-back Alessandro Florenzi is expected to miss out after sustaining a knock.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Italy – Leonardo Spinazzola

Among defenders, only Denzel Dumfries (six) attempted more dribbles than Spinazzola (five) before Tuesday's matches, while only three players in his position completed more final-third passes than the Roma full-back (20).

Supporting Lorenzo Insigne down the left, Spinazzola offers a substantial threat against a Switzerland side with just three clean sheets in their past 10 Euros matches.

Switzerland – Breel Embolo

Any hope of penetrating the Italy defence is likely to come through Embolo, who scored Switzerland's opener in the 1-1 draw with Wales.

No player had more shots (six) or more on target (three) in that game in Azerbaijan. He also had 10 touches in the opposition box, more than any player in the first four days of action – except, once again, for Dumfries (11).

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the first encounter between Italy and Switzerland in the European Championship. However, they have met in two previous major tournaments: in the 1954 World Cup (as hosts, Switzerland won both games: a group stage match and a play-off) and the 1962 World Cup (Italy won 3-0 in Chile, also in the group stages).
- Italy have lost only one of their 24 games against Switzerland on Italian soil (W18 D5): it was a friendly in October 1982 at Rome's Stadio Olimpico (0-1), in what was Italy's first game after being crowned world champions three months previously.
- Victory will see Italy become the first team to reach the knockout stages of Euro 2020. However, the Azzurri have won both of their opening two matches in just two of their nine previous appearances at the finals, doing so in 2000 and 2016.
- Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma is looking to become the second-youngest goalkeeper in the history of the European Championship to keep a clean sheet in consecutive appearances (22y 111d on the day of this game), after Russia's Igor Akinfeev in June 2008 (22y 71d).
- Switzerland's Haris Seferovic has had 13 shots in five appearances at the European Championship, including four in the first half of their 1-1 draw with Wales. However, he is yet to score in the competition.

Italy forward Andrea Belotti said winning Euro 2020 is the aim for the Azzurri following their winning start.

Roberto Mancini's Italy opened the rescheduled European Championship with a commanding 3-0 victory over Turkey in Rome on Friday.

Italy – enjoying a resurgence under head coach Mancini following their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup – are in the midst of a 28-match unbeaten streak as they prepare for Wednesday's clash with Switzerland in the Italian capital.

The 1968 European champions have kept a clean sheet in each of their last nine matches in all competitions, going 875 minutes without conceding since a Donny van de Beek goal for the Netherlands last October – Italy have not kept 10 consecutive clean sheets since doing so between November 1989 and June 1990.

"We believe in it, that's our target, we hit rock bottom by not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, and now we want to win this competition," Torino's Belotti told UEFA.com.

"We know we can do it, but we need to keep our feet on the ground and work together, focused on the target, in every game. That's the only way we can reach the final."

Italy have lost only one of their 24 games against Switzerland on Italian soil (W18 D5) – a friendly defeat at the Stadio Olimpico in 1982, in what was the country's first game after being crowned world champions three months prior.

Victory will see Italy become the first team to reach the knockout stages of Euro 2020. However, the Italians have won both of their opening two matches in just two of their nine previous appearances at the European Championship, doing so in 2000 and 2016.

"There is a great sense of belonging, we all know how important this shirt is and how important it is to do well after hitting rock bottom by not qualifying for the World Cup," Belotti added.

"We know which one is our duty and we also have a great desire for redemption, that's why we always want to give something more.

"We know that we are all important, regardless if we start on the bench. The games last 90 minutes and anything can happen."

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