England host Italy at London’s famed Wembley Stadium on Sunday in the final of Euro 2020. Here are three things you need to watch for.
Football’s either coming home or going to Rome.
That’s the main theme ahead of England’s clash against Italy on Sunday in the Euro 2020 final at London’s Wembley Stadium.
It should be a great game since it features two of the tournament’s best teams. For England, it is a shot at winning a trophy for the first time since the 1966 World Cup. For Italy, it’s a chance at redemption after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
For all their pedigree and tradition, Italy has only won the Euros once in 1968. England has never won the European Championship and will be contesting their first tournament final in history.
Here are three things you need to watch for.
Euro 2020: Coaching tactical duel
Italy manager Roberto Mancini has transformed the team into one that combines attacking flair and traditional defensive grit. It will be a large hurdle for England to overcome, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Italy are very good defensively with the backline anchored by Juventus center backs Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. Italy will use a 4-3-3 system with the attack spearheaded by Federico Chiesa. England manager Gareth Southgate will counter with a 4-2-3-1, a formation that features a solid midfield and Harry Kane in the role of lone striker. He’s a big reason why England have gotten this far. Italy need possession to make what they do work, while England need to remain focused and put hubris aside.
Mancini is no stranger to the English game. He managed in the Premier League with Manchester City for four years starting in 2009. He was successful at Man City, guiding them to the FA Cup in 2011, the club’s first major trophy in 35 years. In the 2011-12 season, Mancini led Man City to the club’s first league title in 44 years in an enthralling final day of the season.
Euro 2020: The Wembley factor
Playing at home before your own fans is a huge advantage for the Three Lions. England won the World Cup at home back in 1966 at the old Wembley Stadium. This is a team that destiny seems to have blessed, but Italy, riding a 33-game unbeaten streak, has the skills to crash the party.
Mancini has experienced pain at Wembley Stadium, both as a player and coach, but none bigger than back in 1992 when he played for Sampdoria. It was in London that Mancini’s then-club lost to Barcelona in the final of the European Cup, the precursor of the modern-day UEFA Champions League.
The easing of pandemic restrictions could mean that Wembley is packed with 60,000 mostly-England fans, but attendance could be increased to as high as 90,000. That option has not been ruled out as the British government continues to look into it.
Euro 2020: Fatigue could matter most
Which team wins the game could come down to a piece of individual brilliance. Having said that, the players who are not starting could matter most as England and Italy limp to the final.
The Azzurri will be without left-sided midfielder Leonardo Spinazzola, who tore his Achilles in the quarterfinals against Belgium. Italy’s players dedicated their win against Spain the semifinals to him. Spinazzola’s replacement, Emerson, will need to up his game if Italy want to remain offensive. Italy, however, have depth and that’s a plus for them.
England, meanwhile, have a healthy roster heading into the final, but one less day of rest. After a long club season and four weeks of Euro soccer, the team that’s most fit and rested heading into the big game could be the one to lift the trophy.
These are two evenly matched teams. What everyone hopes for is a final worthy of a tournament that’s been nothing but thrilling over the past four weeks.