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'They are a powerful side like Stoke' - Italy boss Mancini compares Wales to Championship side ahead of Euro 2020 clash

08:52 BST 20/06/2021
Roberto Mancini Italy
The Azzurri head coach is expecting a physical game against Robert Page's side at Stadio Olimpico

Italy boss Robert Mancini has compared Wales to Stoke City ahead of their Euro 2020 clash on Sunday.

Wales will travel to Rome to take on Group A leaders Italy at Stadio Olimpico, where they will need at least a point to guarantee progression through to the round of 16.

The Azzurri have a 100 per cent record at the European Championships so far but Mancini, who guided Manchester City to their first-ever Premier League title in 2011-12, is wary of the physical threat Wales will pose his side.

What has been said?

The Italy head coach has drawn similarities between Wales' style of play and Championship outfit Stoke, who had a few memorable battles with City in the Premier League when he was in charge at Etihad Stadium.

Mancini does not think Robert Page's side are one dimensional though, as he told his pre-match press conference: "Stoke had a very tough style of play, they were a very tough nut to crack.

"It will be a very difficult match from a physical perspective because they are a powerful side like Stoke, but they are also very technical. Wales have players like (Joe) Allen, (Gareth) Bale and (Daniel) James. They have got some quality and skilful players."

Can Italy win the Euros?

Italy have been touted as dark horses for the European Championships after sealing a place in the knockout stages with impressive 3-0 victories against Turkey and Switzerland.

However, Mancini does not think his team can be considered among the favourites, saying: "France, Spain, Germany and Portugal are used to winning, they are full of extraordinary players. France remain the favourite despite the draw with Hungary. Then there will also be Belgium. In my opinion, nothing changes."

Mancini on Verratti

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti is still waiting for his first appearance at the finals after recovering from a knee injury, but Mancini is planning to throw him in at the deep end against Wales as he seeks to keep his squad fresh.

"Tomorrow night will be our third game and we would have rotated regardless, even if this was a must-win fixture," he said. "A third game in the space of 10 days with 30 degree heat, you need fresh legs out there. Marco needs to play. Until today, after so many days of training, he is fine."

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