The countdown has begun for the Under-21 National Team’s opening fixture at the European Championship. On Sunday, the Azzurrini face Denmark at 20:45 CEST. At 18:00 CEST, the tournament kicks off in Group A as reigning champions Sweden face England in Kielce before Lublin sees the hosts Poland face Slovakia at 20:45 CEST.
The squad trained for the first time in Poland yesterday before continuing to prepare further in the afternoon for the Denmark match at the Wisla Krakow stadium. The aim is to do better than two years ago in the Czech Republic when a defeat against the eventual winners Sweden in the opening match was decisive as the Azzurrini failed to get out of the group.
Roberto Gagliardini knows well the value of starting on the right foot as he intends to finish his unforgettable season in the right way. After joining Inter where he became an immediate starter, he also made his senior debut and he was also called up by Gian Piero Ventura for the last fixture against Liechtenstein. “My life really change a lot in twelve months,” he said at today’s press conference. “It was a special year, with great development. Now, I want to do well in Poland. I’ve got my energy back and I feel ready for Sunday. We’ll look to have the right sense of calm on the pitch and we’ll also look to enjoy ourselves but obviously without forgetting our main objective which is victory.”
Expectations are high but Gagliardini has shown in recent months that he knows how to take on responsibility. “Pressure is building up among us but we’re capable of managing it,” he added. “We are convinced that we can have a great tournament, we’ve worked a lot and we feel good. We know that we’re a good group, we want to go far and possibly lift the cup.” Aware of the value of his side, Luigi Di Biagio has repeatedly stated that it’s mentality rather than ability which can make the difference. “The manager has lots of charisma and he knows how to prepare well for matches,” added Gagliardini. “He pays great attention to the opponents, he shows us lots of videos and he’s able to transmit his gritty spirit to us.”