UEFA 2020 Euro Championship – Day 31

European Championship Final

Italy v England (Wembley Stadium)

Matchday – the last of the delayed 2020 European Championship. And incredibly, the Three Lions have made it to their first Final – that alone has seen history being made. As I write this morning, I feel pretty calm, but kick-off is still just under nine hours away.

Gareth Southgate will not doubt have been and continue to say to players that it’s just another game and will try and keep the routine today as it has been throughout the competition to date. As a fan the superstition bug has kicked in and I’ll be following my own routine that has served me well to date. I’ll once again be wearing my Umbro England Euro96 t-shirt (an original – and yes it still fits, if a little tighter!) a couple of hours before kick-off. There will only be me and my football-suffering other half, who has secretly enjoyed the tournament watching at home – no trips to another venue or anybody invited here, and it has to be the BBC coverage. Additionally, I’ve not shaved my beard since the start of the tournament and that will be left until tomorrow. I will also need to make the same trip to the local shop to get in a box of beers (has to be bottles, not cans) for match supply. During the game the action isn’t paused for going to the kitchen for more drinks and snacks or indeed toilet breaks! I surely won’t be the only one in the country who has suddenly been struck by some strange foibles in the build up to the game against Italy.

For me the Azzurri are the favourites, and although that usually brings pressure, in a strange way they will know that the expectation is even greater on England to win in front of a home crowd. Italy have shown adaptability in this competition, with their Semi-Final win over Spain showing their incredible defensive abilities without the ball, against their attacking prowess displayed in the group stages. England in the group games were functional at best but launched their push for the trophy with a stirring win over Germany, an incredible demolition of Ukraine in Rome and a gritty come-back victory over Denmark.

The Three Lions recent record against Italy is not a great one, with just two victories in the last fourteen matches between the countries. One of those in 1997 was in a tournament, the Tournoi de France a warm-up event for the 1998 World Cup in which England took the trophy against Brazil, France and Italy. The Three Lions beat the Azzurri 2-0 with first-half goals from Ian Wright and Paul Scholes at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes. The last victory was in August 2013, when England faced Italy at the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf in Switzerland. Italy led through De Rossi after fifteen minutes, with Phil Jagielka levelling twelve minutes later. The winner came from Jermaine Defoe eleven minutes from time sealing a 2-1 win for the Three Lions. In the Euros and World Cup Finals, the Azzurri definitely have the upper hand, with a 1-0 victory in Turin at the 1980 Euros Finals at the group stage and at Euro 2012, a Quarter-Finals win on penalties (4-2) after the game had finished 0-0. At the World Cup it doesn’t make for better reading either, England lost 2-1 in the Third Place Play-off game at Italia90, and it was the same score in Brazil at the 2014 tournament as both sides failed to make it out of the group.

It’s time then that this run of results is changed. C’mon England!

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Posted July 11, 2021 by Editor in category "UEFA 2020 Euro Championship

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