Italy head coach Roberto Mancini was delighted his side maintained a high level of performance, despite making eight changes to the starting XI in the 1-0 win over Wales at Euro 2020.

The Azzurri qualified for the last 16 with a perfect record of three wins from three matches in Group A, scoring seven goals without conceding against Turkey, Switzerland and Wales.

Atalanta midfielder Matteo Pessina, who was a late addition to Italy's European Championship squad after a groin injury to Stefano Sensi, netted the winner against Wales on Sunday, showcasing the squad's depth.

Mancini made eight changes to the starting line-up for their final group game, after back-to-back 3-0 victories, insisting he needed to inject "fresh strength" ahead of the knockout phase.

"I really like to see that we made eight changes to the team and played very well," Mancini said during a post-game news conference.

"We deserve to score more goals. And it wasn't particularly easy because they defended very well but that's what I was pleased with. The players performed really well to a man."

Italy equalled their best unbeaten run of 30 consecutive games without defeat between 1935 and 1939 under Vittorio Pozzo, while Mancini's men have won 25 and drawn five of their last 30 fixtures since last losing to Portugal in September 2018.

He added: "I would have changed even if the game had been decisive, I needed fresh strength in the game. We had to gain some minutes.

"We are 26 [players], we need them to play and have time to play. It will be a little more difficult to make the choices, yes.

"A lot of players are used to playing big matches, it will be a shame to leave some aside, but we can count on a lot of players, that's the most important thing."

Manuel Locatelli, who scored a double in the 3-0 win over Switzerland, was one of the players to make way against Wales, with Paris Saint-Germain star Marco Verratti getting his first start of the tournament on the left side of midfield.

"I think it's better to have them both available for selection, unfortunately, one of those two good players won't start," Mancini said.

"But that's been the case ever since day one and unfortunately the same goes for the players that didn't make the squad. And that does hurt us all, and the same will go for when we have to make team selection decisions now."

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.

Juventus forward Federico Chiesa, who was named man of the match, said Italy's best was still to come ahead of their last-16 clash with the runners-up in Group C at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

"We are very excited," Chiesa said. "We're here in the here and now and we're delighted to be here.

"And of course, we will be a test for whoever we come up against in the last-16 and the best is yet to come."

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.

Italy's squad are well aware of the different task they will face in the Euro 2020 knockout stages, so says Roberto Mancini.

The Azzurri maintained their perfect start to the tournament with a 1-0 win over Wales in Rome on Sunday – Matteo Pessina's first-half goal proving the difference, while the visitors also had Ethan Ampadu sent off.

Italy 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.

Mancini's team have won their past 11 games and kept a clean sheet in each match, only going on a longer run once before in their history – 12 games without conceding between 1972 and 1974.

With top spot in Group A sealed, Italy will face either Ukraine or Austria at Wembley in the last 16 on Saturday, and look well placed for a deep run in the competition.

However, Mancini knows complacency cannot set in.

With his suit jacket held casually over his shoulder, Mancini told ITV Sport: "We are happy but we know that after the group stage we start a new European Championship. Now it will be different.

"The guys are very clever. They wanted to win every game, they have a good mentality. I am very happy also for this reason because we changed eight players and played a very good game.

"It is always difficult, I think we played against a good team. Wales are a good team, but it was a deserved win."

Italy had 23 attempts, with six hitting the target – Danny Ward pulling off some fine stops late on to help ensure Wales claimed second place in the group on goal difference.

Gareth Bale missed a golden chance to equalise, but it did not prove costly, and Aaron Ramsey was thrilled to have secured a last-16 berth.

"It was tough, for long periods of that game. We were up against a great team, to go 30 games unbeaten is some achievement, so fair play," the Juventus midfielder told ITV Sport.

"Again, we showed great character This team, you can never question our character. We always give absolutely everything out there.

"We dug in for Ethan, we feel sorry for him, but we had each other's backs out there and finished the job.

"We have a lot of attacking threat, keep games really tight and work hard for each other, so we have a good balance.

"In the first half, we showed glimpses of what we can do against good opposition, kept the ball well, created a couple of opportunities. We just need to be consistent throughout the game in doing that because we have the quality to do it.

"It's just about having the belief to go out there and do that, but we're through in second place, so we're delighted."

Bale added: "We knew it was going to be a very difficult game from the start, a lot of defending, a lot of running, very tight. But I'm proud of the boys, we wanted to try and get a result but it made no difference, we've finished second anyway.

"We have to just recover again now, we've got a bit of a break. Five days to patch everyone up and get going again."

Wales will face whichever team finishes second in Group B in Amsterdam on Saturday.

Italy kept up their outstanding form as Roberto Mancini's men made it three wins from as many games at Euro 2020 with a 1-0 victory over 10-man Wales.

With progression from Group A already assured, Mancini named a much-changed side in Rome, but the Azzurri's squad depth was on show on Sunday.

Indeed, it was one of Italy's new faces who got the winner – Matteo Pessina becoming the youngest Italian player to score on his first start at a major tournament since Antonio Cassano at Euro 2004. Pessina's moment came with a neat flick in the 39th minute.

Wales' comeback hopes appeared to have been dashed when Ethan Ampadu saw red, although Gareth Bale then missed a golden chance. Yet Italy sealed an 11th straight win and made it 30 games unbeaten in the process to match a long-standing national record.

One of eight Italy changes, Andrea Belotti went close to connecting with an acrobatic attempt early on, before the Torino striker flashed a low strike across goal in the 24th minute.

In search of his first Wales goal on his 102nd cap, Chris Gunter headed over from Daniel James' corner, but Italy made the breakthrough six minutes before half-time.

Joe Allen fouled Marco Verratti out on the right, with the Paris Saint-Germain playmaker floating in a cross which was met by Pessina, whose deft flick found the bottom-left corner.

Wales had a let-off after the break – Federico Bernardeschi hitting the base of the left-hand post with a long-range free-kick.

A mistake from Francesco Acerbi gave Aaron Ramsey a chance, but he failed to get a shot off, and Wales were soon down to 10 when Ampadu caught Bernardeschi late and received a rather harsh straight red.

Danny Ward made a brilliant save to deny Belotti, and Bale should have made Italy pay for their profligacy, but he lashed over on the volley with only Gianluigi Donnarumma to beat.

Ward's save counted in the end, however, with Wales securing second place in the group thanks to a better goal difference than Switzerland, who beat Turkey in Baku.

Italy coach Roberto Mancini compared Wales to Stoke City as he predicted a difficult final Euro 2020 group game for the Azzurri.

Consecutive 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland mean Italy are already sure of a place in the last 16 and will be guaranteed to top Group A if they avoid defeat in Rome on Sunday.

Wales, meanwhile, drew with Switzerland before producing a fine 2-0 win over Turkey that means they need only a point to progress to the knockouts.

Italy are undeniably favourites to win the game, having secured 10 consecutive victories without conceding a goal. Should they avoid defeat, they will match their all-time record of 30 games in a row unbeaten, which was set between November 1935 and July 1939.

Mancini expects Wales to present a very difficult challenge, though, much like Stoke during his days as Manchester City manager: in eight Premier League games, Mancini managed four wins and four draws against the Potters.

 

"Stoke had a very tough style of play, they were a very tough nut to crack," Mancini said on Saturday.

"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."

Mancini will rotate his side for the game at the Stadio Olimpico, with Marco Verratti in line for his first performance of the tournament after recovering from a knee problem.

"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."

Italy will aim to equal their all-time unbeaten record of 30 matches and finish top of Euro 2020 Group A when they face Wales at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

The Azzurri have won their opening two matches by the same 3-0 scoreline against Turkey and Switzerland, making it 10 wins in a row in all competitions without conceding.

Roberto Mancini's side are already assured of a place in the last 16, but they require a point against second-placed Wales to make certain of top spot.

However, victory will be the target for Italy on home soil as they look to match their previous record for games without defeat, set between November 1935 and July 1939.

Mancini has indicated he will rotate his side with the knockout stages in mind, but experienced defender Giorgio Chiellini has warned Italy cannot take Wales lightly.

 

"They are a great team," said Chiellini, who is not expected to play any part in the match. "Wales have been playing together for many years and we know them well. 

"There have been many small changes but never revolutions, so they are tough opponents."

Wales are practically through to the last 16 after drawing with Switzerland and beating Turkey in their two games, but need a point in the Italian capital to seal the deal.

The Euro 2016 semi-finalists do not have the best of records against Italy, though, losing seven of their previous nine meetings and failing to score in three attempts on Italian soul.

But winger Daniel James is relishing the chance to end Italy's long-running unbeaten run, which spans back to September 2018.

"Italy are a great team, but we have to go in believing we can win. We will do our analysis, and we will go there with our heads held high," he said.

"They've had a great run going into this tournament, but we want to win every game and we fully believe that we can do that."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Italy – Marco Verratti

Verratti was not even named in Italy's squad for their opening two games as he continues to recover from an injury sustained with Paris Saint-Germain, but Mancini has hinted he will play a part on Sunday.

Manuel Locatelli has starred in Verratti's absence, becoming the third youngest Italy player to score a brace at a major tournament with his double against Switzerland.

But PSG midfielder Verratti has been one of the key men in Italy's remarkable turnaround after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and Mancini will be eager to get him back to full fitness.

Wales – Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale skied a penalty in Wales' 2-0 win against Turkey, becoming the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a spot-kick at the Euros since Raul for Spain against France in 2000.

The Real Madrid forward more than made amends for that, however, by assisting goals for Aaron Ramsey and Connor Roberts in a well-earned win for the Dragons.

He created five big chances across the 90 minutes in Baku – the most by a player at the Euros since such records were recorded in 1980.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Italy and Wales' latest encounter was 18 years ago, in a European Championship qualifier back in September 2003. On that day, Filippo Inzaghi scored his one and only hat-trick with the Italian national team (4-0).

- Wales have made it out of the group stages in their previous two appearances at a major tournament (1958 World Cup, Euro 2016). If they avoid defeat in this game, they are guaranteed a spot in the knockout stages.

- Italy are looking to win all three of their group-stage matches for the fourth time at a major tournament, previously doing so at the 1978 and 1990 World Cups, and at Euro 2000.

- The Azzurri have gone 965 minutes without conceding, scoring 31 goals without reply in that run.

- If he keeps a clean sheet, Italy keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma would be the youngest keeper to earn shutouts in three consecutive games at the Euros (22y 115d on the day of the game).

Federico Chiesa has told Italy supporters they should dare to dream of Euro 2020 glory – because Roberto Mancini has got the Azzurri thinking the same way.

On Sunday, Italy will attempt to make it 30 games without defeat when they tackle Wales in Rome.

Doing so would mean Italy equal their all-time longest unbeaten run, previously achieved between November 1935 and July 1939.

Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but have been revitalised under head coach Mancini, and 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland mean their place in the last-16 of this European Championship is already assured.

"The fans are right to dream and we are right with them," Chiesa said in a news conference. "We are here to try to go all the way and to fulfil this great dream."

Winger Chiesa, the son of former Italy striker Enrico Chiesa, has made two substitute appearances so far, playing 30 minutes.

With Mancini expected to rest some key players, Chiesa could get his chance from the start against Wales.

"The coach asks us to be ready. When he calls me I will be ready, we are all starters and we must be ready to play," Chiesa said.

"I know inside of me how to live through this moment, there is a fantastic energy, electricity, the atmosphere is great and it's thanks to the coach."

Italy are looking to win all three of their group stage matches for the fourth time at a major finals, previously doing so at the 1978 and 1990 World Cups, and at Euro 2000.

Their confidence stems not only from the ongoing 29-game unbeaten streak, but the way they have stepped up their level lately.

They have won their last 10 games, keeping a clean sheet every time. In all, they have gone 965 minutes without conceding, scoring 31 goals without reply over this run.

Chiesa has earmarked Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey as the main threats within the Wales ranks.

Real Madrid winger Bale is "above all" the player that Italy should be watching out for, Chiesa indicated.

In Wales' 2-0 win over Turkey on Wednesday, Bale became the first player to create five big chances in a match at the European Championship since 1980, the earliest date for which Opta has such data available.

Opta defines a big chance as 'a situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score', and two of those five opportunities against Turkey were converted, with Ramsey and Connor Roberts the beneficiaries of Bale's brilliance.

Ramsey is a team-mate of Chiesa at Juventus, and the Italy wide man said: "He is a very intelligent and very technically strong player. He has quality, unfortunately this season he was hit by injuries. We are also friends off the pitch."

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).

Aaron Ramsey quipped that he might get back on penalty duty for Wales after Gareth Bale's miss in the 2-0 win over Turkey.

Wales put themselves onto the verge of the last 16 at Euro 2020 thanks to goals from Ramsey and Connor Roberts in Baku on Wednesday.

Bale set up both goals and turned in a supreme performance overall, crafting a game-high five chances (a Euro record in a single game since at least 1980) and having five attempts himself – in total, there were 34 efforts throughout the match, the most of any game in the tournament so far.

However, the Wales captain did have some making up to do after his 61st-minute spot-kick woe, with Bale slicing his attempt way over.

Indeed, he became the first player to miss the goal frame entirely with a penalty at the Euros since Raul did so for Spain against France in 2000.

Asked for his thoughts on the miss, Ramsey jokingly told BBC Sport: "He's tried to wobble it into the top bins. Maybe I'll get back on them now!"

"It was a big moment but we didn't really panic, we stuck at it, we dug in and we left everything out there," the Juventus midfielder then reflected.

"That's what we've built our success on over the last few years, is really working hard for each other, and we showed that tonight."

Bale, meanwhile, took the miss in his stride, saying: "Yes, I missed the penalty but thought I showed good character to help the team, we needed that victory more than anything and to get a second goal at the end was the icing on the cake."

Though his composure from the spot was found wanting, Bale was excellent, with his link-up play with Ramsey a joy to watch at times.

They created a total of four chances for one another against Turkey, the most of any duo in a single game at Euro 2020, while at Euro 2016, the most by any pair in a single game was also Bale and Ramsey (six in a group match against Russia).

Bale played in Ramsey twice in the opening stages, but the former Arsenal man, who tallied up a non-penalty expected goals (xG) figure of 1.64, failed to find the net until the third such opportunity.

"He [Ramsey] got in a few times, we've always linked up well since our early days," Bale explained.

A raking, pinpoint pass from Bale allowed Ramsey to beat Turkey's offside trap and, after taking the ball down expertly on his chest, he finished it off coolly.

"It was a relief," Ramsey acknowledged. "I had two opportunities before that to score.

"The first half was superb, to a man. We created so many opportunities and really dominated the play. Second half we showed character, dug in, and I thought we thoroughly deserved the win in the end."

Only France (six) have won more matches across the last two European Championship finals combined than Wales (five), and Robert Page's team sit on four points from their first two Group A games.

Third place is the lowest they can finish, and a spot in the last 16 looks well within reach given the four best third-placed sides progress.

"We've given ourselves a brilliant opportunity now, we've still got a game to go, that was a really good point against Switzerland and it gave us the platform to go on and get the win," added Ramsey, who is also looking forward to a return to Italy, where he plies his trade domestically. 

"It'll be nice [going to Italy]. I've got a few team-mates playing for the national team, so that'll be nice, but I'm representing my country and want to do everything to win that game as well. It'll be a good battle!"

Wales are on the brink of the Euro 2020 knockout stages after Gareth Bale set up two goals, either side of a dismal penalty miss, to help Robert Page's team to a 2-0 win over Turkey.

Bale, who provided a sublime assist for Aaron Ramsey to break the deadlock after 42 minutes in Baku, sliced way over from 12 yards with just over an hour played, wasting the chance to put Wales clear.

Yet the Euro 2016 semi-finalists overcame the setback, holding their nerve in defence before Bale atoned with another fantastic assist, this time for Connor Roberts to score with the last kick of the game.

It took Wales, temporarily at least, top of Group A, and with the four best third-placed teams progressing into the last 16, they look well placed to make the knockouts.

Ramsey's first chance came in the sixth minute, the Juventus midfielder electing to shoot rather than square to the unmarked Kieffer Moore, with Ugurcan Cakir pulling off a fine save at his near post. 

Having been found brilliantly by Bale, Ramsey squandered another golden opportunity in the 24th minute, blazing over when one-on-one with Cakir. 

Yet amid mounting Turkey pressure, it proved third time lucky for Ramsey. Bale was the architect with another sensational pass over the defence which the former Arsenal man controlled with his chest before slotting into the bottom-left corner. 

Bale would have gone from provider to scorer had a venomous effort had enough dip to drop under the crossbar, though Wales should have been pegged back moments later. 

A corner was flicked onto Burak Yilmaz, whose acrobatic attempt flashed over from close range. 

Turkey should have been made to pay, but Bale – having drawn a clumsy tackle from Zeki Celik – sent his spot-kick soaring over. 

Danny Ward made a stunning save to deny Merih Demiral and Wales made it count – Bale driving in from a last-minute corner to tee up Roberts, who prodded home to put the last 16 firmly within reach.

Turkey face Wales in Group A hoping to continue a long streak of avoiding consecutive defeats in a meeting between two sides looking to recover from underwhelming starts to Euro 2020.

The tournament's opening fixture saw Turkey blown away by Italy in Rome, with the hosts breezing to a 3-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico. A day later, Wales were fortunate to claim a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, VAR sparing Rob Page's side as Mario Gavranovic saw a winning goal ruled out for offside.

Given the possibility for the third-placed side to progress, Wednesday's encounter in Baku is not necessarily a must-win for either side.

But both will be eager to make significant improvements from matchday one to boost their hopes of progressing to the last 16, with Turkey – seen by many as dark horses for the tournament – sure to take at least some confidence from their record of avoiding back-to-back losses.

 

Their result against Italy meant Turkey have lost all seven of their opening games at major tournaments. However, they have progressed to the knockouts the last three times they have avoided defeat in their second group-stage match (Euro 2000, World Cup 2002 and Euro 2008).

And Turkey have not lost consecutive matches in all competitions since November 2018. Under current boss Senol Gunes, enjoying his second spell in charge, they have not lost back-to-back games since April 2003.

Wales have progressed from the group in their previous two appearances at a major tournament – the 1958 World Cup and Euro 2016 – but lost their second match in each of those competitions.

Striker Kieffer Moore could be pivotal to Wales avoiding having to deal with such a setback this time around. Moore scored the equaliser against Switzerland, with five of his six international goals coming in competitive fixtures.

Having put the disappointment of the Italy game behind them, Turkey captain Burak Yilmaz says they are ready to justify their pre-tournament status as a team to watch.

"I believe the negative atmosphere from the first game is gone," he said. "We are aware of the mistakes we made. We discussed the reasons among us for the first game. Starting from tomorrow, we will show who we are, we will show our character." 

Turkey will likely still be favourites to defeat Wales, but Page insists his side are confident of putting themselves in a strong position to progress.

"We've got a game plan we want to stick to, one that we think can cause Turkey problems," said Page.

"Turkey probably looked at the fixtures coming into the tournament and saw they had a very difficult opener against the favourites Italy. They'd be looking at our game to get the three points, and we're fully prepared for that.

"But we'll be going for the win, and if you get four points from two games, it sets us up nicely."

Turkey – Cengiz Under

Few players came away with any credit from Turkey's heavy opening defeat but the flashes Under displayed after coming on as a substitute suggest he could feature from the start against Wales.

He was one of just three Turkey players to have a shot and also played a key pass. Under had scored three goals in his last five games prior to the start of the tournament, including efforts in friendlies with Croatia and Russia. Despite a disappointing season on loan at Leicester City, Under has the ability to make a decisive impact.

Wales – Joe Morrell

In a team blessed with the talents of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, it was Luton Town midfielder Morrell who was the primary creative influence for Wales against Switzerland.

He played three key passes while it was his cross that provided the assist for Moore to equalise and earn a share of the spoils.

A similarly impressive display could be key to helping Wales take a big step towards qualification.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first match between Turkey and Wales at a major tournament. Their last encounter dates back to August 1997 in a World Cup qualifier that produced 10 goals, with Turkey winning 6-4 in Istanbul. Four of Turkey's goals were netted by Hakan Sukur, while current Wales boss Page played for his country that day. 

- Wales last beat Turkey 40 years ago, in March 1981, courtesy of a goal from Carl Harris in a World Cup qualifier in Ankara (0-1). Gunes was in goal that day for the home side.

- Wales have only failed to score in one of their seven matches at the European Championship, doing so in their 2-0 semi-final defeat to Portugal in 2016.

- Turkey had just three shots in their first match against Italy, their fewest ever in a European Championship match, while they failed to attempt a single shot on target for a second time in their last three matches in the tournament.

- Thirty-three per cent of Wales' nine shots in their opening game against Switzerland were taken by Kieffer Moore, while 33 per cent of them were created by Joe Morrell – with the Dragons' leveller being scored by Moore from a Morrell assist.

Gareth Bale is hopeful Wales can use their hard-fought 1-1 draw against Switzerland in their opening Euro 2020 match as a springboard to push on.

Kieffer Moore headed in 16 minutes from time to cancel out Breel Embolo's opener in Saturday's Group A clash at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

Switzerland managed double the number of shots than Wales and had a Mario Gavranovic goal ruled out by VAR late on, but Moore rescued the Dragons a potentially huge point.

Wales have now lost just one of their last 14 competitive games – against Belgium in March – and Bale is pleased with his side's attitude to battle back in the blistering Baku heat.

"Both teams tried to play. It was a little bit tense, but it's not a bad result and we take the positives," Bale told BBC Sport. "We wanted to win the game and had chances, but so did they.  

"When you go 1-0 down and you can crumble but we showed a lot of grit and character like always and we showed our class to fight back and get the goal.

"We worked very hard. It's hard in this heat. I'm proud of the boys. After the match we said we need to use this as a springboard.

"We now need to recover and move onto the next game."

That next game for Wales is once again in Baku against Turkey, who were beaten 3-0 against heavyweights Italy on Friday in the opening match of the tournament.

Like captain Bale, Wales' caretaker boss Rob Page believes his side can take confidence from the point gained against Switzerland.

"We wanted a positive start and it feels like a win in the changing room. We had to dig deep at the end and we had a bit of Lady Luck," he told BBC Sport.

"Turkey are a different opposition to what we've faced today, but we will have to be solid and well organised again.

"Italy have quality in abundance and we respect Turkey too. It's all about focusing on that now and we will be preparing for that test now.

"That's the foundations. If we need to dig in we will but we've proved we can play."

Moore's goal was his sixth for Wales in 18 appearances, four of those being scored with his head.

Page recalled the Cardiff City striker to his starting line-up in a big tactical decision that ultimately paid dividends.

"Kieffer has been terrific at international and club level," added Page.

"He's got a great touch and his link-up play is great. He's got all his attributes for a centre-forward and has given us the rewards today."

Switzerland are now unbeaten in their last six European Championship games in normal time, but Vladimir Petkovic's men had enough chances to pick up all three points against Wales.

Goalscorer Embolo, whose six shots was the most ever attempted by a Switzerland player in a single European Championship match, admits the draw is a disappointing result.

"I feel a bit of frustration as we had the chances for the second goal but didn't take them," he said.

"Perhaps we were too passive after the first goal. We deserved the win, but it turned out to be a draw and that's a pity.

"But we have to take the positives, rest up, focus on the next game and bring the good things from this match into the next one."

Kieffer Moore headed home to earn Wales a 1-1 draw with Switzerland in their opening Group A match at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

The Cardiff City striker was recalled to Wales' starting line-up for Saturday's clash and justified interim boss Rob Page's selection call by earning his side a crucial point.

Switzerland had won their previous six games and were on course for another victory when Breel Embolo guided in Xherdan Shaqiri's corner early in the second half.

However, Vladimir Petkovic's side could not hold on and were further frustrated late on when substitute Mario Gavranovic had a goal ruled out for offside.

The draw leaves Italy top of Group A following their 3-0 win over Turkey in Rome on Friday.

Wales started the match brightly and went close to opening the scoring 15 minutes in through a Moore header that Yann Sommer did well to push over the crossbar.

Danny Ward was called into action up the other end to deny Fabian Schar after the centre-back turned Shaqiri's corner on target with a smart flick.

Switzerland soon took control of possession and squandered another big chance before half-time when Haris Seferovic fired off target from seven yards once teed up by Embolo.

The two men combined early in the second half as Seferovic played in his team-mate to race through and force Ward into a second big save of the contest.

However, Embolo held off Connor Roberts from the subsequent corner and headed Shaqiri's delivery past Ward into the bottom-left corner.

Kevin Mbabu scuffed wide from a good position and Switzerland struggled to make more of their possession, which would come back to haunt them 16 minutes from time.

Joe Morrell sent in a cross from the right and Moore, a presence at both ends of the field throughout, glanced a header in to get Wales off the mark.

Gavranovic thought he had won the game for Switzerland moments after being introduced from the bench, but his left-footed strike was ruled out.

Gareth Bale accepts there will inevitably be pressure on Wales to perform when they get their Euro 2020 campaign underway against Switzerland.

Wales were beaten 2-0 by eventual winners Portugal after a stirring campaign in 2016 in which they came top of their group and defeated Belgium 3-1 in the quarter-finals. Indeed, they were the first tournament debutants to reach the semi-finals since Sweden in 1992.

Bale is one of eight survivors from that squad to make Robert Page's selection, who begin a challenging Group A against Switzerland in Baku before facing Turkey and Italy.

Wales reached the quarter-finals in each of their previous two major tournaments, the other being the 1958 World Cup, but hopes are not quite as high for a side who averaged only 1.25 goals per game in qualifying, the joint-lowest among the 24 finalists alongside North Macedonia.

They are also facing a Switzerland side who reached the last 16 of the previous Euros and the 2018 World Cup, and who are on a five-game unbeaten run at this tournament (they were knocked out last time by Poland on penalties).

Still, Bale – Wales' all-time top scorer with 33 goals, who finished the Premier League season with a competition-high rate of a goal every 84 minutes – does not appear overburdened by any extra pressure to perform.

"It's similar [to Euro 2016] coming into the tournament," he said. "On the back of 2016 there should be expectations, but it's a different team and a different tournament.

"We know it's a difficult group to get out of. They are all difficult teams to play against, but we've got to take one game at a time.

"We are very excited to be here and one day away. I feel fine and ready to give 100 per cent for my country, as I always do."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wales – Dan James

Bale and Aaron Ramsey remain the star names for Wales, just as they were five years ago in that famous run to the final four, but Manchester United winger James offers a little more of the unknown at this level. While he only started 11 Premier League games last season, the 23-year-old created three chances and provided a fine assist for Anthony Elanga against Wolves on the final day, all from the wide-left position he tends to adopt for his country.

James also scored Wales' most recent goal, securing a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in World Cup qualifying in March.

Switzerland – Xherdan Shaqiri

Unhappy with his playing time at Liverpool, the Euros represent a good chance for Shaqiri either to convince Jurgen Klopp of his worth or to secure a transfer elsewhere.

With five goals and two assists, Shaqiri has been directly involved in 47 per cent of Switzerland's goals at major tournaments since the 2014 World Cup and is just nine caps short of becoming the fifth player to win 100 for the Nati. Born in Gjilan to Kosovar Albanian parents, the 29-year-old is the beating heart of a polyglot squad of great ethnic diversity, and one then befits a tournament being staged right across the continent.

 

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the first meeting between Wales and Switzerland at a major tournament (World Cup and European Championship). In all competitions including friendlies, Switzerland have won five of their seven encounters (L2) but their last meeting in October 2011 ended in a Wales victory (2-0 at Swansea's Liberty Stadium in Euro 2012 qualfying). 
- Switzerland have scored more than one goal in only one of their 13 games at the European Championship, a 2-0 win on home soil against Portugal in the 2008 group stages.
- Gareth Bale has scored in each of his two previous appearances against Switzerland (two goals in two games).
- Aaron Ramsey was directly involved in 50 per cent of Wales' goals in their last major tournament at Euro 2016, scoring one and assisting a further four.
- Vladimir Petkovic – in charge since August 2014 – is only the second coach to lead Switzerland at three consecutive major tournaments, after Kobi Kuhn (Euro 2004, World Cup 2006, Euro 2008).

It was billed as the Eden Hazard show: Belgium's global star was back in Lille, the north-eastern French town where he made his name, a stone's throw from the Belgian border.

Instead, the Euro 2016 quarter-final between Wales and Belgium was dominated not by the number 10 in blue, but in red.

Aaron Ramsey produced the finest performance of his career on that unforgettable night as Wales achieved the greatest result in their history, fighting back from a goal down to win 3-1 and reach the semi-finals of a major tournament for the first time.

"That Belgium game was a historic moment for us, for Wales," Ramsey said this week. "Obviously, that's going to live in people's memories for a long, long time. We started a bit shaky, they scored a screamer, but we settled down and played some unbelievable stuff. That was definitely a great night."

It was certainly the greatest individual display Ramsey had ever delivered. He created five goalscoring chances in the first half alone, more than any other player, and ended the game with two assists – the first time a British player had done so at the Euros since David Beckham for England against Portugal 16 years earlier.

He also picked up a yellow card – almost literally, since he was punished for a deliberate handball – that meant he was suspended for the semi-finals. It was such a brutal blow to Wales' hopes of beating Portugal that fans unsuccessfully petitioned UEFA to rescind it prior to their 2-0 defeat.

We have not seen Ramsey play at an international tournament since. Nor, indeed, have we seen him reach such a level of performance in the past five years. So, what can we expect from him at Euro 2020?

 

'Every international team would love a player like Aaron'

The Belgium game was the zenith of a brilliant tournament for Ramsey, one in which he was directly involved in half of Wales' 10 goals from group stage to final four.

His two assists in the quarter-final, a corner for Ashley Williams' equaliser and a sublime touch and cross for that Hal Robson-Kanu turn and finish, took him to four for the tournament, a joint-record at the Euros along with Hazard in 2016 and Ljubinko Drulovic in 2000.

After creating 23 chances in qualifying, more than any other Wales player, Ramsey built on those standards at the finals in that roving role assigned to him by Chris Coleman. He created 15 chances at Euro 2016, a tally beaten by only five players, and at an average of just over three per 90 minutes. Seven of those chances were created following carries – a run with the ball of more than five metres – which was second only to Hazard (10) among midfielders.

Ramsey was top six for passes into the penalty area (40) and touches in the opponents' box (16), with six of his 10 shots hitting the target, the highest rate of any player to reach double figures for attempts. Yet there was so much to admire about Ramsey's less glamourous work, too: he attempted the same number of tackles as N'Golo Kante (12) and averaged 14.9 duels per 90 minutes. Among midfielders to play in at least five games, only two posted fractionally better numbers, the highest being Paul Pogba on 15.1.

Joe Ledley, a team-mate of Ramsey from their teenage years at Cardiff City to that famous night in Lille, knows exactly what the Juventus man brings.

"He's a special player who will drift around midfield," Ledley told Stats Perform. "He's an opposition midfielder's nightmare because he will chase, he'll go behind them and then he'll come short.

"Against Belgium, he was just flowing, against quality players as well and that just proves how good he is. That's why he deserves to be at a team like Juventus and hopefully, he'll play a little bit more.

"For me, he was probably one of our best players at the Euros. As an outsider looking in, without Aaron, they're not as good. Every international team would love a player like Aaron, and we're blessed to have him. The players will love working with him because he's such a good player and links up the play from midfield and helps out by doing the dirty work as well.

"Hopefully, he can just stay fit and we can see him again in the Euros and see how well he does."

 

'It's been quite a challenging time'

Ramsey started 34 times for Arsenal in all competitions prior to the Euros. It remains the highest number he has managed in a single season in his club career.

Injury problems stopped Ramsey from consistently hitting top form for the Gunners. Despite 64 goals in 369 appearances, including an FA Cup final winner against Hull City in 2014, he never quite became a fan favourite at Emirates Stadium as he struggled to string regular runs of games together.

Those problems have continued at Juventus, whom he joined on a free transfer two years ago after accepting a contract offer reported by some to be worth £400,000 per week. Further injuries, along with changes in coaches and systems, have not helped his cause; six goals and five assists in 33 starts over two seasons is a modest return for a player of Ramsey's calibre and rumoured wages.

The problems have manifested for Wales, too: Ramsey has played in just 19 of their 44 games since Euro 2016 and missed training on Thursday, just 48 hours out from their opening game against Switzerland.

"It's been quite a challenging time over the last couple of seasons," said Ramsey, who has employed his own personal fitness team to get ready for Euro 2020. "Many factors and changes that I haven't been used to.

"I've got my own team around me who are focused on me, to get myself into the best possible shape. Obviously, football is a team sport and a lot of the time it is about the team and everybody doing the same things, when maybe some players need a bit more attention.

"So, I take it into my own hands really and I have the right people around me to try to come up with the best possible plan for me to get myself back into a place where I am feeling good and confident again."

Confidence and form invariably go hand in hand. Ramsey exuded such belief five years ago that even Hazard wilted in his shadow at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, and his place in UEFA's team of the tournament seemed secure even as he left the pitch knowing he would not be involved in the next game.

Not many predict Wales can match their achievements in France but, with Ramsey fit and firing alongside Gareth Bale, Ledley is not ruling out a few surprises.

"I think Bale has missed Aaron quite a lot because he's been struggling with injury," he said. "Those two, when they're on their game, they're unstoppable."

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