The Jerusalem Post

England and Scotland ready for Euro duel

Maguire declares himself fit after ankle injury • Feisty clash expected between longtime rivals


England center-back Harry Maguire said he is fit and available to face Scotland in Friday’s Group D match at the European Championsh­ip after missing the opener due to an ankle ligament injury.

Maguire has been out for more than a month after picking up the injury in Manchester United’s 3-1 Premier League win at Aston Villa on May 9.

The United captain missed the club’s last five games of the season including the Europa League final, where it lost to Villarreal.

The 28-year-old was replaced by central defender Tyrone Mings in England’s 1-0 win over Croatia last weekend.

“I feel good,” Maguire told British media on Wednesday. “I’m back available, I’ve been training and I’m looking forward to it.

“Obviously, the injury was a setback club football-wise. Internatio­nally I wanted to come into this with a lot of games under my belt with full fitness.

“I’ve done a few sessions now and feel like my fitness is there, so I’m available for the game.”

Maguire said he may have to play through some pain as he returns to fitness.

“I’m sure it will niggle me for a few weeks and months,” he said. “I haven’t had an ankle injury before, but from speaking to players and physios, I’m sure it will be niggling.

“But as long as it’s stable and the pain is bearable, then I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

Scotland defender Kieran Tierney, who missed Monday’s 2-0 defeat by Czech Republic due to a calf problem, said his prospects of playing at Wembley on Friday were “touch and go.”

“A decision will probably be made as late as even on Friday before the game,” he said.

Dynamic Italy blazing a trail from ashes of World Cup failure

Roberto Mancini has said it took “the end of the world” for him to become Italy coach, but his side now appears to be in a brave new world following a classy 3-0 win over Switzerlan­d on Wednesday that propelled it into the Euro 2020 knockouts.

After laying down a marker with a stunning second-half display in their opener to beat Turkey 3-0, the Italians matched that scoreline but produced an even more assured performanc­e.

Manuel Locatelli was an unlikely figure to give Italy the lead in the first half when he started then finished off a sweeping attack down the right wing and then scored again after the break before striker Ciro Immobile adorned another magical night at the Stadio Olimpico by netting late on.

Locatelli, who had never scored twice in a game before, was the symbol of a side short on household names but bursting with talent which is making its mark at Euro 2020 after the miserable failure to qualify for the last World Cup.

Italy’s limp playoff defeat to Sweden in November 2017 ensured it failed to reach a World Cup for the first time since 1958

and prompted much soul-searching, with coach Gian Piero Ventura painted as the scapegoat and booted out.

Mancini, a Premier League and Serie A winner with Manchester City and Inter Milan, but who has often been criticized for being too defensive, was an unlikely figure to lead the revolution the country was crying out for, but he has proved an inspired choice.

Italy may have shed its old defense-first persona under previous coaches such as Antonio Conte, but Mancini has taken the side to the next level, building a hyper-pressing team that suffocates opponents in its own half.

Mancini may have kept faith with seasoned gladiators such as Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, who have a combined age of 70 and were the only survivors of the defeat to Sweden who played against Switzerlan­d, along with Immobile and Jorginho.

But his side also sparkles with players boasting courage and athleticis­m.

The Azzurri’s opening goal against Switzerlan­d was made by a combinatio­n of skill, pace and quick-thinking from Domenico Berardi down the right flank, beating a Swiss defender by the byline before arrowing a low pass at the feet of Sassuolo teammate Locatelli, who had started the move.

Locatelli, who struck again with a deadly strike from outside the area, has performed so well that Italy has barely missed its one star name in Marco Verratti, who was forced to sit out both the opening games due to injury.

Berardi was a handful for the Swiss down the right wing all game while left back Leonardo Spinazzola, one of the best players against Turkey, was equally dangerous down the other flank, making Italy an unpredicta­ble and terrifying side that became the first to book its place in the last-16.

No team will look forward to meeting the Italians next.

Ronaldo, Pogba snub sponsors France midfielder Paul Pogba removed a Heineken bottle in front of him at a Euro 2020 news conference, a day after Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo removed two Coca-Cola bottles, sparking a furore among soccer fans.

Pogba, a practicing Muslim, moved away the beer bottle when he spoke to the media after he was named man of the match in France’s 1-0 Group F win over Germany.

Heineken, one of the official sponsors of Euro 2020, was not immediatel­y available to comment.

Ronaldo, known for his peak levels of fitness, moved the cola bottles aside as he sat down to speak to the media ahead of Tuesday’s Group F opener against Hungary.

The 36-year-old then held up a bottle of water and said “Agua” in Portuguese, making headlines.

The beverage giant’s shares dipped 1.6% on Monday, wiping off about $4 billion from the company’s market capitaliza­tion, following Ronaldo’s snub.

In a response, Europe’s soccer governing body UEFA said: “Coca-Cola offers a range of drinks to suit different tastes and needs, which are available to players throughout the tournament.”

“This includes waters, isotonic sports drinks and juices, coffee and tea, as well as Coca-Cola.” (Reuters)

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 ?? (Reuters) ?? DENMARK FORWARD Yussuf Poulsen (left) vies for the ball with Belgium’s Jason Denayer during last night’s Euro 2020 clash in Copenhagen, won 2-1 by the Belgians.
(Reuters) DENMARK FORWARD Yussuf Poulsen (left) vies for the ball with Belgium’s Jason Denayer during last night’s Euro 2020 clash in Copenhagen, won 2-1 by the Belgians.

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