Italy drew a 0-0 tie with Finland in its first Women's Euro match, but will narrowly edge out Denmark in its second of the tournament.
Interestingly enough, all Group A members tied in their first game of the tournament. Denmark and Sweden also tied each other at one goal apiece.
Italy coach Antonio Cabrini told Sam Crompton of UEFA.com that "winning is everything" in this upcoming fixture. Whichever team can earn a win will take a decisive lead in Group A play and both teams are surely aware of the stakes.
Like her coach, Patrizia Panico is buying into the mindset of this upcoming fixture being a must-win, telling Francesco Corda and Crompton of UEFA.com:
"I'm not sure how the coach will want to approach the Denmark game, but one thing is clear, we must win."
The Azzurre and Denmark are ranked No. 12 and No. 13 respectively, leaving even more reasons to expect a close one on July 13.
As Crompton pointed out in his article, Italy has always been among the final eight teams in the Women's Euro. While team members come and go, history is on the Azzurre's side to emerge from Group A. Defeating Denmark is one of the steps Italy must take to do just that.
38-year-old striker Panico will need to be more effective for Italy than she was in the Finland match. She is Italy's lone striker on the pitch in the team's 4-2-3-1 system and has 98 goals in 184 international fixtures.
The striker will be aided by winger Melania Gabbiadini, who came dangerously close to scoring an goal in the 28th minute against Finland. Gabbiadini is also a veteran member of the Azzurre, having played on the 2005 and 2009 Women's Euro squad.
Denmark is not without its own dynamic striker with Pernille Harder on the roster. She has to be Italy's No. 1 priority to neutralize on its defensive side of the pitch.
Luckily for the Italians, their head coach just happens to know a thing or two about playing defense. Cabrini is one of Juventus' and Italy's most notable defenders, having won the 1982 World Cup with the Azzurri.
Through the leadership of Cabrini and veteran talent like Panico on the pitch, Italy will get past Denmark and earn a crucial Group A victory.
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