Transforming Italy to a competitive team since his appointment as the Azzurri’s head coach in 2018, Christian Vieri believes the Azzurri will be among the favorites to win Euro 2020.
in Group A, Italy will open their delayed Euro 2020 campaign against
in Rome on
as they try to win the competition for the first time since 1968.
After failing to qualify for Russia 2018, their first World Cup absence since 1958,
has transformed a national team on its knees to a drastic recovery following his appointment three years ago.
Among Belgium, Italy was one of only two teams to win 100 percent of their games during the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, scoring 37 goals, the same amount of goals they scored during Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
"Mancini is one of my best friends," former
, who earned 49 caps for Italy from 1997 to 2005, toldStats Perform
"He did an amazing, amazing job. Getting the Italian team back together and getting all the fans in Italy to watch again because no one was watching.
"They have big players, big quality players – real quality like what we used to have 10-15 years ago. We had a situation for 10-15 years after the 2006 World Cup, we didn't have any big players. That's how it is sometimes, you don't have big players coming up.
"Now we have big players, we have experienced players. They play fantastic football and haven't lost for so many games, but they are really, really strong."
As a proud country, Italy has won the tournament in their first appearance (1968) and has since reached the final twice without lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy (2000 and 2012).
"I told him [Mancini] I don't know if you're going to win the Euros, but you're going to get there," added Vieri, who scored 23 goals for the national team. "The team is strong, and they have big players again and everyone is following."
In addition to Vieri, the Azzurri icon Walter Zenga also lauded Mancini's work at the helm of the four-time world champions as he has been able to gather a team of assistants that contains Gianluca Vialli and Daniele De Rossi.
"The important thing right now is we have a great coach. Not only a great coach but a great standard of staff," said Zenga, who still holds the record for going 518 minutes (five consecutive clean sheets) without conceding a goal at the 1990 World Cup.
"All the technical staff were involved in football – Vialli, De Rossi, et cetera. This helps the team to grow up and arrive at the Euros with a big chance to win."
"You have to consider one nice thing in life and football: you can improve yourself every day," Zenga said when asked about the quality of Donnarumma, who debuted as a 16-year-old for Milan in 2015. "There's no one day that you say you're at the top level, especially when you're 22.
"I've met him a lot of times in Milan and his character is very strong. He is strong because either if he makes a big save, makes an unbelievable game or the worst game of his life, he looks like he is [in] complete control of himself. This is the most important thing in life. He is the top goalkeeper in Italy."