It all comes down to this — England vs. Italy in the Euro 2020 final. It’s somewhat uncommon that we wind up with the two best teams in a tournament meeting in the final, but that’s exactly what we have here. England and Italy have been, hands down, the two best teams in the competition.
England have been defensively stout because Gareth Southgate insists on playing two defensive midfielders — Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips — pretty much at all times. At this point, who am I to question his methods? They’ve worked. Jordan Pickford broke the consecutive minute shutout streak for an England keeper last match against Denmark, and when the Danes finally broke through, it was the first goal England had conceded in the tournament.
Italy have gotten here in atypical fashion, at least compared to what we expect of i Azzurri. They’ve played expansive, attacking football, relying on veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci and a strong midfield to keep the opponents at bay instead of their usual catenaccio style that would have them sitting deep and countering. Somewhat strangely, they’re still happy to play without the ball and haven’t seemed too concerned with dominating possession. When they do get the ball, they’ve played vertically and attacked directly. So maybe it isn’t too far off their usual tactics.
Italy played their three group stages in Rome, then have traveled around for the knockout stages. England have played five of their six matches at Wembley. The final, as you probably know, is at Wembley. Will England be buoyed by playing in front of nearly 60,000 home fans? Or will the pressure of playing at home get to them?
Early reports have Southgate changing the England formation and starting lineup. It looks like England will go with three at the back, with Kieran Trippier coming and Bukayo Saka starting on the bench.
England: Pickford, Walker, Shaw, Rice, Stones, Maguire, Kane, Sterling, Trippier, Phillips, Mount
Italy: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson, Barella, Jorginho, Verratti, Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
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