An in-form Italy face Turkey in Rome on Friday as Euro 2020 finally gets underway a year behind schedule and with the coronavirus continuing to cast a shadow over the tournament.

Postponed 12 months ago because of the pandemic, the European Championship – with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal the holders – is being played for the first time all across the continent, with 11 cities from as far apart as Seville to Baku hosting matches.

The idea was first mooted by Michel Platini almost a decade ago when he was president of UEFA and has survived the COVID-19 crisis, but matches are being played in front of limited crowds and with onerous health restrictions in place.

In Rome, the Stadio Olimpico will be filled to about 25 per cent of capacity, meaning 16,000 supporters will be present to watch Roberto Mancini’s Italy face Turkey in the first game in Group A.

"The opener is always difficult, and there will be plenty of emotions but you can't get too carried away," said Mancini, who has guided the Azzurri back to a major tournament after their ignominious failure to reach the 2018 World Cup.

Mancini has rebuilt Italy, the 1968 European champions, and led them on a 27-match unbeaten run.

"We have created a great squad. We want to continue to have fun together and we will try to make it to London. I'm very positive," he told reporters.

Wembley Stadium in London will host the semi-finals of the 24-team tournament as well as the final on July 11.

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