WILL EVANS breaks down the European Championships final between long-suffering England and decorated Italy at Wembley. 

UEFA Euro 2020 Final Tips – Italy V England

05:00 (AEST), Mon 12th Jul @ Wembley Stadium, London

History: Played 27: Italy 11 V England 8 (8 Draws)

Last meeting: March 27, 2018 (Friendly): 1-1 draw at Wembley Stadium

Final Thoughts: The general consensus is the two best teams have made their way into the Euro 2020 final. Italy and England both survived gripping semi-final showdowns, requiring a penalty shootout and extra-time, respectively, to progress.

England have ended a tortured history of knockout losses since their hallowed 1966 World Cup triumph. This is the Three Lions’ first major final since – and Gareth Southgate’s squad has performed spectacularly throughout this campaign.

Italy have a far more decorated history in major tournaments. The Azzurri have featured in four World Cup finals since England’s sole success, winning in 1982 and 2006 and losing deciders in 1970 and 1994. The 1968 European Championship winners were runners-up in 2000 and 2012.

England’s path to the final

England topped Group D with 1-0 wins over Croatia and Czech Republic – with Raheem Sterling scoring the decisive goal in both – either side of a scoreless stalemate against Scotland. But the Three Lions gathered momentum with a 2-0 defeat of Germany in the Round of 16 as Sterling and Harry Kane found second-half goals.

The hopes of a long-suffering football nation went into overdrive following England’s 4-0 quarter-final rout of Ukraine. Kane scored a goal in each half, while Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson also scored after the break.

England’s dream was on tenterhooks in the semis when Denmark scored first at the half-hour mark of the semi-final. But they took just nine minutes to counter and equalise, and were on the front foot for the most part thereafter. Harry Kane converted a controversial penalty in extra-time to snare a 2-1 triumph.

Italy’s path to the final

Roberto Mancini’s Italy dominated Group A, beating Turkey (3-0), Switzerland (3-0) and Wales (1-0). Ciro Immobile scored in the Azzurri’s first two games, while Manuel Locatelli notched a brace against the Swiss.

Italy edged Austria in the Round of 16 after a frantic extra-time period, winning 2-1 after a scoreless 90 minutes. They accounted for Belgium by the same scoreline courtesy of two first-half goals.

A tense semi-final against Spain went to a penalty shootout after the scores were locked 1-all. Italy kept their cool to win the shootout 4-2. Federico Chiesa’s curling strike in the second half had early opened the scoring.

The verdict

The teams’ last competitive match saw Italy take out a group match 2-1 at the 2014 World Cup. England have won just one of their last eight against Italy – a friendly in 2012 – while friendlies in 2015 and 2018 both finished in 1-all draws.

England’s home advantage brings its own pressure, but overall has to be a plus – and contributes to their $2.60 favouritism. Italy has tread a tougher knockouts path to the final, though, and are battle-hardened.

There’s little to split these teams in what is sure to be a dramatic decider. Both teams are dripping with attacking flair and goalscoring strike. Italy’s ‘young veteran’ keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma has been superb, while England’s Jordan Pickford has let just one goal past him in a record-breaking campaign.

A wonderful tournament is set to get a fitting finale – goals from both teams and extra-time.

 

Tip: Result and Both Teams To Score (90 mins) – Draw and Yes @ $4.50