England and Italy will face each other in the final of Euro 2020, which will be played tonight at 22:00 Bulgarian time at Wembley Stadium in London. Both teams will put an end to the European Championship, which was supposed to take place last summer, but was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although one of the leading European giants, historically England and Italy are not among the most successful teams in European championships. For England, this is the first final of the Old Continent Championship and the second in a major forum since the success of the home World Cup in 1966, while Squadra Azzurri is a four-time world champion, but climbed the European top only once - in 1968 at home. However, Italy boasts two more Euro 2000 and Euro 2012 finals, lost to France and Spain respectively. For England, the top achievement of the European Championship so far was the semifinals in 1968 and 1996.
England have won just two of their last 14 games against Italy in all competitions, a 2-0 victory in June 1997. And 2: 1 in August 2013. - both in controls.
Italy has never lost to England in a major tournament, winning 1-0 at Euro 1980, 2-1 at the 1990 World Cup and in 2014. and a 0-0 draw before winning penalties at Euro 2012.
This is Italy's tenth final in the tournament, with only Germany (14) playing more. Italy won the European Championship in 1968, but lost the next two finals, in which it played in 2000 and 2012.
Roberto Mancini will be only the second coach to win the title in England and a trophy at the highest level with a national team. Sir Alf Ramsey won the title with Ipswich in 1962, and four years later led England to World Cup triumph.
England is the 13th different nation to take part in a European Championship final. Only three teams from the previous 12 lost their first final of the tournament.
England have won 15 of their last 17 games at Wembley in all competitions, scoring 46 goals and conceding just five in that period.
Harry Kane has played directly in 28 goals in the last 27 appearances for England in all competitions (19 goals, 9 assists). Another goal will make him England's top scorer in major tournaments with 10 goals.
England and Italy have faced each other a total of 27 times so far, with their first clash being in a friendly match in Rome in 1933, which ended in a 1-1 draw. The English have an advantage at the beginning of their rivalry with Italy and recorded four wins and four draws in the first eight matches, before the Italians recorded a 2-0 victory on June 14, 1973, and one goal was scored by the future coach of the "Three Lions". Fabio Capello, who a few months later brought the success of his team again with 1: 0. The first 11 matches between the rivals were friendly, before reaching the qualifiers for the 1978 World Cup, when the two teams exchanged home victories.
The first match in the finals of a major forum between England and Italy was at Euro 1980, when in Turin the hosts won 1-0. Ten years later, Italy hosted again, this time at the World Cup, and beat England 2-1 in a match for third place in Bari. At Euro 2012 in Kiev, Italy eliminated its opponent in the quarterfinals after 0: 0 and execution of penalties, in which Andrea Pirlo shines with a top performance of "Panenka". Only two years later, the two teams are rivals in the group stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and Italy is rejoicing again after a 2: 1 victory. The last match between England and Italy was a control match in 2018, which ended in a 1: 1 draw. This means that excluding friendly matches, in official matches Italy has six wins (one after penalties), against one success for England and one draw.
In recent years, the coach of the "Three Lions" Gareth Southgate has gradually built one of the strongest teams in the world, full of young and talented players, especially in attack, and the great potential of the team became clear after the surprising ranking for the semifinals. World Cup 2018 in Russia. Three years later, England were already among the favorites for the Euro 2020 title and lived up to high expectations, showing a very solid, though not very attractive game to reach the final, conceding only one goal in their previous six games. The big advantage of the English is the home stage - five of their previous six matches were played at Wembley, and the same applies to today's final, where there will be approximately 60,000 fans of the hosts in the stands, against only 1,000 supporters of Italy.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini also did an excellent job in three years, taking over a broken team that failed to even qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and in three years turned it into a real machine in which not shining stars, but the team game is at an exceptional height. At the moment, Italy is in a series of 33 consecutive games without a loss, and until a draw with Spain in the semifinals of Euro 2020, Mancini's players had won 13 consecutive matches. Despite her strong series, Squadra Azura was not considered one of the favorites before the start of the European Championship this summer, but with her game in the group stage and the eliminations she proved that she deserved to be one step away from a second European title.
England's path to the Euro 2020 final on paper seems easy, but this is mainly due to the good work of Southgate and the calm game of its alumni. The English were frugal in their group, where they finished in first place with seven points after two victories over Croatia and the Czech Republic with 1: 0 and a draw with Scotland. The big test for the "Three Lions" was in the quarterfinals, when they faced a team that caused them a lot of pain over the years - Germany. However, Harry Kane and company performed at a high level against the Bundesliga and deservedly achieved success with 2: 0, which allowed the whole of England to dream of starting to sing the famous refrain "It's Coming Home". the refrain is from a popular song written for Euro 1996 in England, which sings that football is coming home because it is claimed that England is the birthplace of football). In the quarterfinals, England made their first glamorous performance to beat Ukraine 4-0 before the team's toughest test came - the semi-final with Denmark, won 2-1 after extra time and a controversial penalty awarded in favor of the British.
For its part, Italy showed fireworks in the opening match of Euro 2020 on June 11 in Rome against Turkey, when they won 3-0. This was followed by another 3-0 against Switzerland and a more modest 1-0 in a match regardless of Wales, and in these three matches Roberto Mancini used 25 of all 26 available players, emphasizing how wide his bench is. The difficulties for Italy began with the elimination phase, and in the round of 16 they struggled to beat Austria 2-1 after extra time, then beat with the same result one of the favorites for the title Belgium. The hardest for Italy was in the semifinals against Spain, when Mancini's players mostly defended after 1: 1 in regular time and overtime showed the class in the execution of penalties to win 4: 2.
One of the best news for England is that after his impersonal performance in the group stage, team captain and goal scorer Harry Kane found his form in the eliminations and scored a total of four goals in three games to help his team reach the final. Thus, the winner of the Golden Shoe from the World Cup 2018 is now only one goal behind the leading goal scorers of Euro 2020 Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrick Chic and has every chance to become a goal scorer at the second consecutive big forum. Undoubtedly, the other leading player in England is Rahim Stirling, who scored key goals against Croatia, the Czech Republic and Germany and generally took the lead in difficult times. Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and the defense in front of him, which were overcome only once in six games from the great performance from a free kick by Mikel Damsgor in the semifinals, are doing great.
The team of Italy is undoubtedly a big star, but the performance of the winger Federico Chiesa, who scored beautiful goals against Austria and Spain, the central midfielder Giorgino, who scored the decisive penalty against Spain, the motorcycle in the center Nicole Barrela, as well as the trio can be distinguished. Donaruma-Chiellini-Bonucci, who bring calm to the whole team with their stable performances in defense. Interestingly, as many as five Italian players already have two goals in the tournament, thus the team equaled a similar record of France in Euro 2000.
Experts emphasize that in both teams the biggest star is the coach, as Southgate and Mancini took two teams to the bottom and within a few years turned them into leading forces in Europe. That is why everyone expects to see how the tactical battle between the two mentors will go. Italy likes to press very hard and hard, which does not allow the opponent to play the ball calmly and will most likely create problems for England in passing the ball. For its part, Southgate will have two options - in turn to impose high pressure and attack Jorgeninho to prevent him from dictating the pace, or to accept the game in his half and use his strong offensive players on the counterattack. Fatigue will be a factor in this case, as Italy has already played overtime twice and England have done it once, as well as the possibilities for possible rotation. Of course, England will be able to rely on their fans in the stands to give strength to the players in difficult times, but this will not bother the experienced and always strong mental players of Italy.
The two coaches have no personnel problems before the final, with one important exception for Italy - left back Leonardo Spinazola, who suffered a serious injury in the match with Belgium in the quarterfinals. At Southgate, there are two questions - any partner of Kane and Sterling in attack, and at the moment the favorite seems to be the young Bukayo Saka, who uses his good chances, as well as whether to bet on a formation with two or three central defenders. The Italian team has doubts whether Mancini will not give up the poorly performing central striker Ciro Imobile and bet on Andrea Bellotti or even Lorenzo Insigne as a false nine, but it is more likely that there will be no changes in the starting eleven.