After a month of fascinating football, followers of the Euro 2020 tournament get a chance to quickly draw breath before looking ahead to Sunday’s final. Three group games followed by the knockout rounds have helped cut the pack down to just two sides, with England and Italy facing off in Sunday’s final.
This will go down as a final at a neutral venue, but the game will be played at Wembley Stadium and will be packed with 60,000+ supporters. The majority of those in attendance will be cheering on the Three Lions. With England hosting and having never won the European Championship in the past, they are sure to draw the support of many neutrals too.
This meeting will be the 28th time these nations have faced off, and if the head-to-head stats can be trusted, then a competitive encounter awaits. Italy has won the bulk of past matches, claiming ten wins to the eight of England and nine draws. The most recent produced a 1-1 draw and, rather interestingly, that has been the final score in each of the last two games. There has been no more than one goal between the rivals in eight, a run stretching back to a 2-0 friendly match win for England in 1997. Will we enjoy another hard-fought match? Our team previews the final we’ve all been waiting for.
Three Lions roar to the final
England has been almost perfect in their route to the final, winning all but one of their matches and conceding a single goal along the way. They progressed from the group stages with ease, racking up seven points from a possible nine thanks to two wins and a draw. The spare in that run was a goalless finish at Wembley against the Auld Enemy Scotland. They bagged 1-0 wins over Croatia and theCzech Republic in their other two outings during that phase of the tournament.
Moving to the knockout stages as winners, England opened with a stunning 2-0 win over Germany in the Round of 16. The match was tighter than the final score would suggest, but England were deserving winners of the match with the goals scored by Sterling on 75 minutes and Kane with 85 on the clock. Another important, morale-boosting win and another eye-catching, clean sheet for Gareth Southgate’s men.
Since eliminating the Germans, England have hammered Ukraine 4-0 in the quarter-finals before edging Denmark 2-1 in the semi-finals. The latter went right down to the wire with the Three Lions needing a penalty in extra time to see off the Danes. Kane netted from the spot to book his team a place in the final.
Italy’s path to the final
Italy has been just as impressive in their journey to Sunday’s final at Wembley Stadium. They won Group A with a perfect nine points, winning each of their three matches, scoring seven goals and failing to concede. They were one of the competition’s eye-catchers during that stage of play, and despite being written off by many critics pre-tournament, fans were delighted to see their team hit the ground running. They finished well clear of runners up Wales in second place.
Moving to knockout football and the Italians were less convincing in the Round of 16 when beating Austria 2-1, but they needed extra time to achieve it. That match ended goalless before Italy sparked to life, Chiesa and Pessina firing on 95 and 105 minutes before Kalajdzic scored a consolation goal to keep things tense at the finish. 2-1 was also the score in the quarter-finals, with Italy beating Belgium in that match, but they got the job done in regulation time. Barella and Insigne were both on target in the opening 45 minutes to put Italy in a commanding position before Lukaku scored from the penalty spot.
Italy faced their greatest test of the competition so far when drawing Spain in the semi-final. It was a shoot-out for a place in this summer’s final, and it was Italy that came good at Wembley on Tuesday. They won that match on penalties after fighting out a 1-1 draw, goals from Morata and Chiesa. The victors were more clinical from the spot and progressed to the deciding match with confidence in the ranks.
England v Italy prediction
Both England and Italy are here because they have been the best teams defensively, keeping things tight at the back and creating chances on the counter. Italy is often involved in competitive, low-scoring games, and we could see more of the same here. Southgate has been accused of being too cautious by some fans, but it’s that approach that has helped England through this competition.
There’s all to play for here, but the finals of major international tournaments are often tense games with both teams unwilling to take a chance and go on the attack. It may be a case of the managers keeping things organised at the back and this game becoming a stare-off. Which team will blink first?
Only one match involving England and Italy has seen the teams separated by more than one goal since 1977, and the spare was a friendly. These rivals have a history of cancelling each other out, and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise to see them do it again.
Euro 2020 odds
The pre-match betting available at 22Bet on the Euro 2020 final has England priced at 2.68 with Italy trading 2.936 and the draw 2.95. There are also more than 100 betting markets attached to this game, with many of those continuing in play.
Some of the most popular specials you can bet on include the team to win the trophy, both teams to score, handicap, under 2.5 goals, correct score and more.
Euro 2020 isn’t the only big game of the weekend, of course, with the Copa America also taking place. You can read an in-depth preview of that match on this site. Our football writers keep you up to speed with the top games throughout the year.
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