Austria will be hoping they can halt Italy’s ascendancy at Euro 2020 as the Italian’s have quickly emerged as one of the tournaments dark horses.
Initially overlooked as Belgium, world champions France and England were deemed the pre-tournament favourites, six goals in two games from Roberto Mancini’s side skyrocketed them into the spotlight.
Only England have matched Italy for their squeaky clean run in the group stages as Gianluigi Donnarumma, and a couple of minutes cameo from Salvatore Sirigu, have yet to concede a goal in this summer’s tournament.
The exciting Italians made light work of their first two opponents, Turkey and Switzerland, calmly dispatching both nations by three unanswered goals. They made eight changes for their final group match against Wales as Matteo Pessina’s strike was enough to down the 10-man Dragons.
Ciro Immobile will undoubtedly be looking to push for the Golden Boot adding to the two goals he has scored already in the tournament. He will need to bag at least a brace to apply the pressure on current leader Cristiano Ronaldo.
Austria will be looking to spoil the party at Wembley on Saturday and cool the melting pot that is the Italian hopes of silverware.
Their 3-1 win over minnows North Macedonia kickstarted their tournament thanks to goals from Stefan Lainer, Michael Gregoritsch and Marko Arnautovic, whose celebration landed him a one-match ban off the back of his goal. But they soon came crashing back down after an uninspiring defeat to eventual group winners, Holland.
Knowing a win would see them through, up stepped Christoph Baumgartner inside 20 minutes poking home from the corner to book their spot in the round of 16.
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Wembley will play host to its first of two games on Saturday with the other fixture being England and Germany on Tuesday.
Where to watch Italy vs Austria
BBC One will be broadcasting the knockout tie immediately after Wales and Denmark with the kick-off scheduled for 8pm.
The match will also be available online for free via the BBC iPlayer.
Who is in charge?
Premier League referee Anthony Taylor is in the middle for the match and he is already under pressure from the Italian media who have reacted to his appointment.
Corriello Dello Sport suggests that the issuing of the English official is in response to Italy Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s claims to move the final from Wembley to Rome.
A report read: “‘It is clear that as sportsmen we have a duty to believe that, even in football-business, the highest values prevail and that revenge and jokes are not part of the practices of those who govern football.
“However, when we read yesterday morning that the Englishman Anthony Taylor had been designated for the match with Austria, a shiver ran down the back of several insiders and some non-neutral observer of the Italian national team. Simple coincidence? Pure randomness?”
What have the managers said?
Roberto Mancini said: “Playing at Wembley should always be a pleasure. There are players in this squad who have never experienced it and they ought to relish this opportunity in a beautiful stadium.
“We need a great performance, as Austria have quality,” he added. “They are aggressive and we cannot get anything wrong.
“That’s the beauty of these tournaments, you have to win and there’s no other option. We have to continue playing our football, hopefully for another four games at Euro 2020.”
Austira head coach Franco Foda said: “The team has achieved something spectacular. We are in the round of 16 and now we want to do everything we can to take the next step and reach the quarter-finals in Munich. We are full of confidence and focus on Italy. Italy have been the team that have impressed me the most.
“They attack well, their positioning is good and they are also strong in transition. Even in the third match, they looked strong despite making a lot of changes. They are a dangerous squad.”
Italy – 12/25
Draw – 16/5
Austria – 7/1
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