The Azzurri have already advanced to the Round of 16, but their energy and audacity have spread across the tournament.
So, even if coach Roberto Mancini is set to rest some stars after two 3-0 victories, the reserves are just as eager to play Italy’s free-flowing attacking game.
“There’s a lot of energy and a great atmosphere in this national team, which the coach deserves credit for. He’s brought in a lot of enthusiasm,” said winger Federico Chiesa, who is expected to replace Lorenzo Insigne on the forward line.
Chiesa was frequently Italy’s best player throughout the country’s faultless qualifying run for the European Championship, and he is coming off a breakout season at Juventus where he scored 15 goals and added 11 assists across all competitions.
Players like Chiesa and Andrea Belotti are referred to as “reserves” despite their contributions to Italy’s ten wins in ten qualification matches.
With eight goals under Mancini, Belotti is tied for the team lead with Ciro Immobile, who he’ll most likely replace against Wales.
Marco Verratti, who was a regular starter before missing the first two games of the tournament due to a right knee injury, is also expected to play. He’ll almost certainly take over for Manuel Locatelli, who scored twice in Italy’s triumph over Switzerland.
After thrashing Turkey in the tournament opener, Italy merely needs a draw to secure first place in Group A.
With four points, Wales may qualify for the knockout stages with a draw or if Switzerland loses to Turkey in the other group match.
Italy has won ten consecutive games, all of which have ended in clean sheets, and is on a 29-match unbeaten streak. That’s one game short of the team’s record 30-game unbeaten streak set over a century ago by Vittorio Pozzo.
Given their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Azzurri’s performance is all the more impressive.
Italy has never scored more than two goals in a European Championship competition before, but they have already scored three in a row.