The Herald on Sunday
‘Biscotto’ chat does not pertain to us, insists Mancini
ROBERTO Mancini has dismissed the idea that Italy and Wales could play out a so-called “Biscotto” draw in Rome to suit their Euro 2020 ambitions.
Italy have already qualified for the round of 16 after winning their opening two games and would top Group A by avoiding defeat to Wales at the Stadio Olimpico today.
Second-place Wales need a point to confirm qualification for the knockout stage after drawing with Switzerland and beating Turkey in their opening two games.
It has been suggested the scenario allows the two teams to engineer the right result. In Italy this is known as “Biscotto”, which literally means biscuit.
It originates from the Latin for cooked twice and the idea is apparently you cannot make a biscotto on your own, hence the double element of the name.
Mancini said: “I think the term ‘Biscotto’ is used when there are two teams that have the same goal and the result would allow them to both go through. That’s not an issue for us because we already have six points and are already through to the last 16.
“So we either go to London or Amsterdam, it depends on the final score, and this ‘Biscotto’ chat doesn’t pertain to us.
“We will go wherever we need to in the draw. We’re not really bothered by which team we come against. If we go to Amsterdam because we finish runners-up so be it. If we win the group so much the better. Our target is to win the match.”
Italy have gone 29 games unbeaten – one short of the Azzurri all-time record – and are expected to progress to a Wembley date with the runners-up in Group C, most likely Austria or Ukraine.
But Mancini is wary of the challenge Wales will present his side, particularly the physical traits he knows so well from his time as Manchester City manager between 2009 and 2013. He said: “Wales are a very difficult side to face. They have been right up there in the FIFA world rankings for a number of years, that shows they have quality players.
“They are a British team so they have a lot of physicality and it will be a difficult match because they have already got four points.”
Meanwhile, Joe Allen believes Wales pair Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have proved the critics wrong in “special fashion” at Euro 2020.
Bale and Ramsey shone as Wales beat Turkey 2-0 on Wednesday to move within touching distance of the round of 16. Ramsey opened the scoring in Baku and Bale atoned for his second-half penalty miss with two superb assists as Wales made it four points from two games.
“I think some people probably had the narrative drawn up long before that game,” Allen told Sky Sports about Wales’ star men. “When you’re worldclass players like Gareth and Aaron the focus is always going to be on you. I think the pair of them were incredible the other night and certainly answered the critics in special fashion.”
Bale had a mixed season on loan at Tottenham from Real Madrid as Jose Mourinho often kept him on the bench before his departure in April.
The Wales captain made just 10 Premier League starts but scored 16 goals in all competitions. Ramsey had a stop-start season with form and fitness issues at Juventus, but the midfielder returns to Italy on Sunday for Wales’ final Group A fixture looking sharp.
Italy have impressed with successive 3-0 wins over Turkey and Switzerland, but Stoke midfielder Allen believes Wales will benefit from being underdogs at the Stadio Olimpico.
“It suits us down to the ground,” Allen said. “We know we can rely on being solid defensively.”