One match down, 50 to go in Euro 2021. The first match went according to script with Italy blanking Turkey 3-0 in front of a quarter-full Olimpico in Rome.
Sporting News offers seven takeaways from the tournament opener:
Italy. Just, wow.
The Azzurri were playing at home and all, but Italy is legit. The win against a competent Turkey team was comprehensive and their undefeated streak is up to 28 matches and counting.
You saw why they score so many goals. The midfielders and attackers move all over the place with quick passes and switches. Opposing defenders just can’t keep track of them, and the Italians get into the box with ease. And then Giorgio Chiellini and goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma take care of the rest.
Watch the highlights here:
They may not have a superstar, but they should roll through the rest of Group A (the other two games also at home). If they win the group, they'll face the second-place team from Group C in the Round of 16: Austria, the Netherlands, Ukraine or North Macedonia.
That sound you hear is everyone clicking to lock in a decent price on Italy to win it all while they can.
Italy's last nine results:— bet365 (@bet365) June 11, 2021
So, who was the star on Day 1?
It was actually the Italian front three: Lorenzo Insigne, Domenico Berardi and Ciro Immobile. They’ve mastered those constant movements we talked about and they each had a hand in the three goals.
Turkey held strong in the first half against them but then physically wilted in the second. They failed to keep up and the Italians ran rampant.
First goal of Euros 2021: Own goal
Turkish center back Merih Demiral, who plays in Italy for Juventus, made history when he took a cross in the chest and it turned into the opening goal of the tournament.
Demiralising for Turkey 👀— Stephen Doyle (@dubsoulrebel) June 11, 2021
Opening night . . . opening ceremony
If you don’t feel something when famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli hits this note during the opening ceremony, then you might need a pulse check:
Now that’s how you do an anthem
More goosebumps: The Italian national anthem at Rome's Stadio Olimpico. Always provides chills.
That hand ball before halftime
Everyone can name a penalty kick for or against their club that was probably more innocent than the extended arm of Turkish right back Zebi Celik. The referee didn’t call the penalty just before halftime and the VAR didn't signal a clear and obvious error (the score was still 0-0).
If the officials are not calling that handball, then you’ve got to believe the referees are going to be lenient with accidental contact in this tournament, no matter how far the arm stretches out. If not, this video is the first piece of evidence teams are going to cite if they’re on the wrong end of a call.
Did we really need that remote-controlled car?
Under the category of marketing gimmicks that we can probably do without: the official match ball delivered in a remote control car when it can just as easily be thrown to the ref . . . and get there quicker. Let's hope this is not happening every game.