Euro 2020 Final Preview: Is it coming Home or going to Rome?

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England are aiming to win a first major tournament for 55 years when they face Italy on home soil in the Euro 2020 Final at Wembley on Sunday night.

After 55 years, the Three Lions will have another chance to win a big trophy, this time at home. Gareth Southgate’s team beat Denmark in the semi-finals after a tough battle, but they can’t say their opponents had it any easier. To eliminate Spain, Italy had to go through a penalty shootout.

So far, the Azzurri have been simply magnificent, riding one of the greatest unbeaten streaks in the history of international football.

Routes to the final

Italy’s route to the final

Group A: Turkey 0 Italy 3
Group A: Italy 3 Switzerland 0
Group A: Italy 1 Wales 0
Round of 16: Italy 2 Austria 1 (AET)
Quarter-final: Belgium 1 Italy 2
Semi-final: Italy 1 Spain 1 (AET, Italy won 4-2 on penalties)

England’s route to the final

Group D: England 1 Croatia 0
Group D: England 0 Scotland 0
Group D: Czech Republic 0 England 1
Round of 16: England 2 Germany 0
Quarter-final: Ukraine 0 England 4
Semi-final: England 2 Denmark 1 (AET)

Match stats

This is Italy’s 10th major tournament final (6 World Cup, 4 EURO), with only Germany (14) having played in more among European nations. Italy won the European Championship in 1968, but have lost their subsequent two final appearances in the competition (2000 and 2012).

This will be England’s first-ever appearance in a European Championship final, and their first in the final of a major tournament since winning the 1966 World Cup. It’s the longest gap between major finals (World Cup/EUROs) for any European nation (55 years).

England are the 13th different nation to feature in a European Championship final (counting Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic as one) – just three of the previous 12 lost their first-ever final in the competition: Yugoslavia (1960), Belgium (1980), and Portugal (2004).

Italy have finished as runners-up of the European Championship on two occasions, losing to France in 2000 and Spain in 2012. Only Germany and USSR (3 each) have finished as runners-up more times than Italy in the competition.

EURO 2020 will see England participate in the final while hosting the showpiece, the 11th instance of a European nation competing in a major tournament final as hosts (World Cup/EUROs). England also did so at the 1966 World Cup, beating Germany 4-2 at Wembley. Both of the last two European host nation finalists lost the final (Portugal at EURO 2004 and France at EURO 2016); only one of the first eight had lost their final prior to this (Sweden at the 1958 World Cup).

Italy have never lost against England at a major tournament (W3 D1), winning 1-0 in EURO 1980, 2-1 at both the 1990 and 2014 World Cups, and drawing 0-0 before winning on penalties in EURO 2012.

England have won just two of their last 14 meetings with Italy in all competitions (D5 L7), winning 2-0 in June 1997 and 2-1 in August 2013 – both in friendly matches. Indeed, England have won just one of their eight competitive meetings with Italy (D2 L5), 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in November 1977.

This is the third major tournament (EURO/World Cup) final to be held at Wembley Stadium. The previous two were both won in extra time, with England beating Germany in the 1966 World Cup, and Germany beating Czech Republic in EURO 1996.

Italy are unbeaten in their last 33 matches in all competitions (W27 D6), scoring 86 goals and conceding just 10 in this run. This is their longest unbeaten stretch of matches in the nation’s history.

England have won 15 of their last 17 matches at Wembley Stadium in all competitions (D1 L1), scoring 46 goals and conceding just five in this run.

Predicted line-ups

Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
Out: Spinazzola (Achilles)

England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Phillips; Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane

View from the camps

Roberto Mancini, Italy coach:

“We have been working towards this for many years so we are very happy and I can only thank the players for what they have done so far. We have won nothing yet; we will have to win on Sunday to consider it a success. England will have an entire stadium behind them. It will be on us to put them under pressure. A final is a bit different from other games, we will have to play with focus but also with joy because you can only win a final if you take pitch to have fun.”

Gareth Southgate, England manager:

“We’ve got to enjoy the fact we’re in the final but there’s one more massive hurdle to conquer. Italy are a very good side, I’ve thought that the last couple of years. They are in outstanding form and have defensive warriors who have been through everything. It’s a great game to look forward to.”

Form guide (most recent first)

Italy: DWWWWW
England: WWWWDW

Prediction

There is no need to think too much here; the best possible bet is under 2.5 goals. Southgate will wait for set pieces, and the Italians, too, won’t be eager to open. These two sides have fantastic defenses, and we believe that they will be running the show in this matchup.

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