England V Italy Preview: Euros 2020
July 10th, 2021 | Football
England will face Italy this Sunday in the final of EURO 2020 at Wembley Stadium. Both teams have had brilliant EURO campaign and it’s a game that could go either way.
Italy have shown football fans their improvement since missing out on the 2018 World Cup. They’re good on the eye going forwards, tidy in midfield and have a solid, experienced, calm centre-back partnership of Chiellini and Bonucci, along with a top goalkeeper in Donnarumma. Like all Italian teams, they love defending. Watch when an Italy player makes a block or an interception, they celebrate it like they’ve just scored a goal. But where they’re different from Italian teams of old is they have introduced a high press, rather than just sitting back and limiting space. The front-three, most recently Insigne, Immobile and Chiesa and the two no.8s in their 4-3-3 system, normally Barella and Verratti, all do this to great effect. The Italians have a good team and deserve to be in this final.
As do England. The three lions have been nothing short of outstanding throughout this tournament. Various tactics and formations have been used for different games. We’ve seen a 3-4-3, 4-3-3 and the seemingly favoured 4-2-3-1. England have also mixed it up in terms of when they don’t have the ball. At points within the 90 minutes, they’ll press the team high up to try and win the ball back in dangerous areas. At other times they’ll leave the pressing to the forward players and have the rest of the team sit off and look to intercept. This shows great tactical flexibility and mind which Gareth Southgate possess. I still believe Gareth deserves a lot of praise from England fans, along with apologies from his doubters. England have evolved their style of play under Southgate and this is shown in all the games. England like to attack by being patient in possession, getting the ball-wide and making something happen. Of course there are times when you can counterattack or play a long ball forwards, but this patient build up play with defensive cover provided by a withdrawn midfielder and full-back, usually Kyle Walker and Declan Rice, seems to be Southgate’s preferred style of play.
England at Italy have been similar throughout this competition. Both teams attack using width from wingers and full-backs, stretching the opposition’s backline and creating space in central areas. Both teams have midfields with energy and tenacity; and have defences that are solid, experienced, good on the ball and have that desire to keep the ball out of the net. Both managers, Gareth Southgate and Roberto Mancini, are very tactically aware and can adapt to in game situations well. Both teams have grafted their way through games at times, not performing especially well, but getting the job done and progressing.
It really is a 50/50 game. Italy will probably look at England and think they have a better midfield, which technically speaking is probably the case. But I think England have a better back-four and attack, so it really could go either way.
Italy are a threat and will think they can hurt England, but I just can’t see England conceding against this Italian side. But I can see England exploiting Italy’s full-backs one-on-one, especially Emerson and think they could have a lot of joy using their pace in behind the two centre-backs of Italy, who whilst good defenders aren’t the quickest anymore. The same could be said for England, but teams haven’t really got in behind them this tournament, whereas Italy have recently shown signs that this is possible.
As I’ve said throughout this article, it will be a close game between the two best teams in this tournament. But I just think with the way England have won games, the atmosphere in the country, the solidity at the back and the fact the game is at Wembley all seems to point towards an England win and an end to a 55-year trophy drought. I can’t see the Italians scoring and I predict a 1-0 win for the three lions under the Wembley arches. Possibly 2-0 if they get a goal relatively early on and have counterattacking opportunities.
Predicted Winner: England. Score Prediction: 1-0
Please note: The football articles that feature on this site are being written by Jack Dixon as part of his work experience. He is a teenager and looking for work experience within the football industry. He is currently studying for his media and art A-levels.