Italy started their preparations for Euro 2020 with an emphatic 7-0 friendly win over San Marino at the Sardegna Arena on Friday. 

Despite a slow start, Roberto Mancini's side went in at the interval two goals up courtesy of strikes from Federico Bernardeschi – the Juventus man's sixth international goal – and Gian Marco Ferrari.  

Matteo Politano and Matteo Pessina added braces after the break, while Andrea Belotti was also on target as Italy brushed aside their neighbours with the minimum of fuss.

The result marked the Azzurri's seventh consecutive win without conceding a goal. 

Italy struggled in the early stages against their less illustrious opponents, with only Gianluca Mancini and Bernardeschi registering efforts on target inside the opening half hour. 

They went ahead after 31 minutes, however, when Bernardeschi's low strike from 20 yards proved too powerful for San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini. 

Sassuolo defender Ferrari, who scored on his only other appearance for Italy against San Marino in 2017, doubled their advantage three minutes later, volleying home after Benedettini had failed to clear a corner. 

Half-time substitute Politano wasted little time making his mark on the game, sliding in his third international goal in the 49th minute after a mix-up in the San Marino defence. 

Belotti added a fourth after 67 minutes, the Torino striker latching onto Bernardeschi's pass and firing past Benedettini from eight yards. 

Pessina stroked home a fifth in the 75th minute after Gaetano Castrovilli had struck the post from outside the penalty area, while Politano added his second two minutes later with a fine volley from 12 yards.

Atalanta midfielder Pessina then rounded off the scoring four minutes from full-time with a poked finish from a tight angle.

Lionel Messi's future is a popular topic.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona at the start of the season but opted to remain at Camp Nou.

With his contract expiring at the end of 2020-21, the Barca superstar is continuing to make headlines.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WAITING ON BARCA

Barcelona have yet to make a move to re-sign superstar captain Lionel Messi, according to the front page of Wednesday's Marca.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and his future is far from certain, having been tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

Led by new president Joan Laporta, Barca are determined to retain the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports Ousmane Dembele wants to continue with Barca, but speculation is mounting that Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar could return to Camp Nou. Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 – has been negotiating a new contract in the French capital. Dembele has previously been linked with Manchester United.

Manchester City are eyeing a new striker but they are unwilling to spend "crazy" money, claims Fabrizio Romano. With Sergio Aguero – linked with Chelsea, Inter, PSG and Barcelona – leaving on a free transfer, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland has emerged as City's prime target, while Tottenham star Harry Kane is another option.

- Goal says Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli and Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi could swap clubs. Both players have struggled this season and they could reportedly be involved in an exchange deal. Romagnoli has attracted interest from Barca and Chelsea.

- Eurosport reports United and Liverpool could go head-to-head in a battle to sign RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. The 21-year-old has been heavily linked with Liverpool, but United are also interested. Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Villarreal's Pau Torres and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly are also reportedly being monitored at Old Trafford.

- Romano claims there are "huge chances" for Hector Bellerin to leave Arsenal. The Spaniard was previously linked with PSG and Barca.

Juventus have announced Federico Bernardeschi has tested positive for COVID-19, ruling him out of Wednesday's crucial game against Napoli.

Bernardeschi is isolating away from the rest of the first-team squad following the test result, though Juve revealed on Tuesday that the Italy international is asymptomatic.

The 27-year-old came on as a second-half substitute as the reigning champions drew 2-2 with Torino on Saturday, a result that further damaged their bid to win the league for a 10th straight season.

Juve boss Andrea Pirlo was without both Leonardo Bonucci and Merih Demiral for the Turin derby after the defenders tested positive for coronavirus during the international break.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck a late equaliser but the Bianconeri still dropped down to fourth in the table, 12 points behind leaders Inter with just 10 matches remaining.

Juve host fifth-placed Napoli in midweek too, a key fixture for both clubs in the battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Like compatriot Bonucci, Bernardeschi was involved for the Azzurri as they started their World Cup qualifying campaign last month – he made appearances in all three Group C fixtures in March, against Northern Ireland, Bulgaria and Lithuania.

The Italian Football Federation announced four members of their staff had returned positive tests prior to the game in Lithuania, which resulted in a 2-0 win for Roberto Mancini's side.

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