June 22nd, in Lille, Italy face Ireland in the final game of Group E at Euro 2016.
Hopefully, Ireland will still be in a position to make the knockout stages by the time that match comes around.
It's not going to be easy - that's a sentiment Italy manager Antonio Conte believes also applies for his side. Speaking the Irish Times , the Chelsea manager in waiting opined that the group featuring Ireland, Belgium, Sweden and his team is the toughest of the six.
As far as I am concerned, this is the hardest first round group of all...Ireland took points from Germany, they are a tough team. I saw their play-off games against Bosnia. They are a much improved team, they are obviously very physical and then too they often like to use the long ball, looking for the lay-off...Even if that is not always the case because the Premiership has much changed the once classic English style.
Much of our hopes rest on the shoulders of Shane Long, or, as Conte calls him, 'that Southampton striker'.
A player I like a lot, for example, is that Southampton striker, and then there is Coleman at Everton and the central defender John O’Shea who is a very, very good player...No, no, you cannot tell me that I don’t know this Irish team.
Regarding Martin O'Neill, Conte has a bit more knowledge. For instance, he's aware that the Ireland manager was a midfielder and played for Nottingham Forest. He also knows how well he's done in his two and a half years with the Boys in Green.
He has obviously done a great job with Ireland because it is never easy to qualify for a tournament like this...Then they beat Bosnia in the play-offs, a team that has players of the quality of Pjanic, Dzeko and Luljic.