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Euro 2020: Is Football Coming Home or to Rome?


Euro 2020: Is Football Coming Home or to Rome?

Italy vs England

Well, we’re finally here and the best two teams of Euro 2020 are set to do battle in front of a near capacity crowd at Wembley Stadium. 

When England meet Italy, there will be an air of redemption on both sides. 

The Azzurri missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia which was their first absence from the tournament since 1958, and since the appointment of Roberto Mancini as head coach they have been ruthless, winning all 10 games in their qualifying group and blowing away every team before them in the Finals. 

The Three Lions have overcome a more personal issue. Head coach Gareth Southgate was most famous for missing the crucial penalty in England’s Euro 1996 semi-final defeat to Germany before he took manager’s job, but now the nation knows him as the man who has calmly steered the England team to its first final in 55 years. 

Should England finish the job on home soil it will be a giant leap for Southgate’s young lions, while the step will be smaller for Italy who last won glory at the 2006 World Cup. 

Both nations have considerable expectations. And with the two most passionate sets of fans in European football present, we will see a final to be remembered for decades to come.                  

Talking Points

Southgate’s final choice

Gareth Southgate wasn’t everyone’s pick for England supremo but there is 100-per cent agreement now that he is the man for the job. 

After narrowly falling short at Russia 2018, losing in a hard fought semi-final to Croatia, England have finally broken their last four hoodoo and qualified for their first final since the 1966 World Cup. 

The head coach has managed his young players brilliantly. Before the tournament began, all eyes were on Jack Grealish and Phil Foden, but both have been used lightly and to great effect. 

Young Arsenal winger Bukayo Saka has been a revelation and was handed a start in England’s semi-final victory over Denmark, then Southgate replaced him with Grealish on the hour as England put the Danes to the sword.

But it was the introduction in extra time of Manchester City revelation Foden which was the final master-stoke to break Denmark’s resistance.

The underdogs had too much to cope with and ultimately buckled as the excellent Raheem Sterling flew into the penalty area and was fouled to give Harry Kane the chance to score the winner, which he did at the second attempt after Kasper Schmeichel parried his spot-kick.

The two holding midfielders Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice have been superb and they will probably start again with Jordan Henderson ready to step in, so the only change I expect is for Saka to make way, and probably, for Foden.  

Can Azzurri wreck England’s party? 

Sure they can!

This is one well-matched final. While the Three Lions have all the hallmarks of a Premier League team, attacking flair, high energy, and a pressing midfield, the Italians have a lethal combination of a rock-solid defence and rapier-like attack. 

Mancini’s men have played some fluid football but it is their legendary defence which is likely to be the busier of the two if England play with the attacking intent we have seen for much of the tournament.

Defencive warriors Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have been carved from granite and both played a huge part in Italy’s semi-final win over Spain. 

Chiellini, now at 36 years old, retired from international football after the debacle of 2018 but he was persuaded to return and inspire the new generation to new heights. 

Out front, Federico Chiesa has been a livewire after scoring a beauty in the semi-final victory, while Lorenzo Insigne has had an outstanding tournament and is sure to feature in the Euro 2020 highlights right to the end.  

History 

These two great football nations have a rich history and are both desperate to win silverware for their loyal and passionate fans. 

The Azzurri have had the better of the Three Lions in the head-to-heads, winning four of the seven meetings since 1980 and losing just the once. 

The last two matches — which are both friendlies in 2015 and 2018 — resulted in a 1-1 draw.  

Betting Tip

England Asian Handicap 0.00 @ 1.83

The Azzurri are unbeaten in 33 games, but the Euro 2020 betting odds here at

SBOTOP have slightly favoured the Three Lions over Mancini’s men throughout the tournament and continue to do so.

England are marginal favourites at 2.54 with Italy at 2.88 and the draw (in 90 minutes) at 2.99.

I think with home advantage, England will have more shots on goal. Whether they hit the target remains to be seen but I expect the young lions will edge an epic finale.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.


 


 

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