SATURDAY’S BIG HEADLINES

Italy are back

Yes Italy reached the quarter-finals in 2016 under Antonio Conte and the semi-finals four years earlier but they failed to make it out of the group stage of the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and they didn’t even qualify for the last one.
Euro 2020
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Last night's 3-0 win over Turkey was the latest step on a journey for Roberto Mancini and his players. The former Manchester City manager has done a fabulous job rebuilding this team and there is a genuine sense that this generation can win something, there are very few holes. They were brilliant against Turkey on Friday night, some of the football was magical.
Credit too to the Italian fans who were mostly excellent (insert generic 'great to have fans back' comment here) having been fired up by the irrepressible Andrea Bocelli, more on him later.
After Bocelli came the anthem, always a classic as far as international football goes. The Turkish players gave it their all but they couldn’t match the intensity with which the Italians belted out theirs, perhaps that was a sign of things to come. Giorgio Chiellini with the cheeky grin just before it started, he knows that it is an absolute banger.

Giorgio Chiellini before the Italian national anthem

Image credit: Eurosport

On the pitch Mancini is making the Italian public fall in love with their national team again, and it’s hard not to with players like Nico Barella, Jorginho and Lorenzo Insigne in the team. Huge credit as well to Leonardo Spinazzola, who was absolutely magnificent from left-back. The passing and movement were electric at times and the scary thing is that they probably should have scored a lot more.
Their depth is impressive, being able to throw on someone like Federico Chiesa whilst Marco Verratti wasn’t even available for this one. It tells you about their mentality that they were still pressing into stoppage time at 3-0 up, and the celebrations amongst the team when Chiellini denied Burak Yilmaz just before full-time... this is a serious outfit.
Plenty of us had tipped Turkey as dark horses, this writer did too, but Italy have given a timely reminder to the likes of France and England that they very much deserve to be in the conversation of possible winners. These are not dark horses, these are prize-winning stallions.

Andrea Bocelli is a global treasure

UEFA gets a lot of things wrong, it is far from a perfect organisation. But there are few decisions more spot on than the one to get Andrea Bocelli to sing Nessun Dorma for the opening ceremony of Euro 2020.
It was a spell-binding performance.

Italian singer Andrea Bocelli performs during the opening ceremony before the UEFA EURO 2020 Group A football match between Turkey and Italy at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on June 11, 2021.

Image credit: Getty Images

If there was anything to get this summer of football started it was absolutely that. Utterly majestic.
Goosebumps.

The little car that took us through the looking glass

Now, correct the Warm-Up if we’re wrong here. But as far as we can recall the generally accepted method of transporting a match ball to the centre of the pitch before kick-off, i.e. carrying it with hands by a match official/delegate/bright-eyed young mascot, was perfectly fine.
We didn’t have any instances of the ball getting lost on its way to the pitch, in fact as a sport we can probably claim a 100% record of getting the ball to where it needs to be in order for the game to take place.
But this is the world we live in now and The Warm-Up is excited to see what comes next. The possibilities are endless, and we must admit the car itself was quite cute. The shameless corporateness of the whole affair less so.
We look forward to the Queen hoverboarding in with the ball for the final at Wembley.

IN OTHER NEWS

2022 to cost planet as well as lives

It seems a shame to have to mention this but FIFA and Qatar maybe knew what they were doing with this report dropping on Friday afternoon before the first day of Euro 2020.
In case you missed it a FIFA-commissioned report said that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will produce up to 3.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. That would be 1.5 million more tonnes than the 2018 event in Russia did.
This comes when there are more reports by the months about the horrendous conditions that the migrant workers building the stadiums in Qatar are having to work in, that have resulted in multiple deaths. Yet still an organisation that claims that the game is for all allows this event to go ahead.
Big sporting organisations are going to have a climate and social reckoning in the coming years. They cannot host events that cause such pain and anguish to this planet and the people who live on it.

RETRO CORNER

Belgium and Wales are both getting their campaigns underway today, the former are the late game at 20:00 GMT whilst the latter kick things off at 14:00
So let’s go back five years when they met each other in the quarter-finals and we got to see this moment of utter absurdity from Hal Robson-Kanu. It's number two on this top 10 video.
Absolutely glorious.

HAT-TIP

I was a tall and lanky kid with growth spurt problems and therefore a serious lack of coordination. Bambi on ice my coaches called me. Despite the physical challenges I faced they could also see a self-aware boy with a burning desire to improve. Behind the fragile exterior they saw my potential when I had a difficult time seeing it myself.
Brilliant column in the Guardian from Finland captain Tim Sparv on what this means for him and his country to be playing at Euro 2020.

COMING UP

MORE FOOTBALL!
We’ve got Wales v Switzerland, Denmark v Finland and Belgium v Russia. Is this the last time we see Gareth Bale play football? Are Finland really whipping boys or are a lot of people going to be made to look very stupid? And is this Belgium’s year, or are they destined to live in permanently in a Roberto Martinez-induced state of just falling short?
In case you missed it we’re getting you warmed up every single day during the Euros. Tomorrow it will be – checks notes – this writer! In that case, we’ll bring the bagels if you bring the coffee.
Euro 2020
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Euro 2020
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