England v Italy Review: Euros 2020

July 12th, 2021 | Football

Well that was tense. A close game of football. Probably as close a game of football as is possible to have.

England started with a real intensity and had the wingbacks, Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw bombing on, getting the reward for this start when Luke Shaw volleyed in a Kieran Trippier cross to give England a second minute lead in the final. In a tense first-half where the Italian’s struggled to deal with England’s back-three system, England went in half-time 1-0 up and the better side. As for the second-half, well that’s when the game changed. Italy kept the ball out and were patient in possession and England gradually but surely turned from a back-three with pressing wingbacks into a solid back five. This invited the Italian’s on and allowed them to gather momentum, but they failed to create any clear-cut chances. England defended well and it looked as though the Italian’s were going to be frustrated, but a goal mouth scramble from a corner, conceded by some brilliant defending by Harry Maguire, lead to Pickford brilliantly denying Verratti’s header the save turning the ball onto the post and Bonucci managing to slot the ball under the attempted block from Harry Kane. Around five minutes after getting over the shock of Italy’s goal, England began to regain control in the game. The three-lions kept the ball better and had good moments in the wide areas. This regain of control came from subbing of Kieran Trippier for Bukayo Saka and changing from a 3-4-3 system to a 4-3-3. The first-half of extra-time was quite even to begin with but then England got control of the ball and again, began to play the better more positive football. Italy defended well but did begin to commit a lot of tactical fouls, much to the annoyance of England fans, obviously including myself. Jack Grealish’s substitution changed the flow of the game and meant England had someone who could drive at people, carry the ball forwards, make something happen or win a set piece. I also think Jorginho was lucky to escape with only a yellow card after seemingly stomping on Jack Grealish’s thigh. There was no attempt to play the ball, his foot went into the challenge at an unnecessary and dangerous angle and I felt endangered the safety of an opponent. This would have given England seven minutes or so against a ten-men Italy who had both centre-backs booked. Chiellini’s yellow card offence on Saka when he pulled the back of his shirt and dragged him down to the ground was also a shocking challenge and although is classed as a yellow card offence, is an absolute disgrace.

After 120 minutes of even football, it came down to penalties. First up for Italy was Berardi who side footed his effort to Jordan Pickford’s right, with the England no.1 diving in the opposite direction. Harry Kane smashed his into the bottom corner to level the scores at 1-1 before Jordan Pickford brilliantly denied Belotti. Harry Maguire gave England a 2-1 lead in the shootout, sticking his penalty in the top corner. Bonucci evened the scores, smashing his penalty beyond Jordan Pickford, who guessed the right way but was beaten by the pace and height of the ball. Marcus Rashford then side-footed his effort to Donnarumma’s right, sending the goalkeeper wrong way but hitting his penalty off the foot of the post and wide. So after three taken it was 2-2 in the shootout. Bernardeschi slotted his penalty down the middle to give Italy a 3-2 advantage in the shootout, before Jadon Sancho saw his spot kick well saved by Donnarumma, meaning Italy could win the shootout and EUROs should they convert their next penalty. It fell to mister reliable Jorginho, who did a hop, skip and a jump before seeing his penalty brilliantly turned onto the post by Jordan Pickford, a brilliant save. This gave young Bukayo Saka the opportunity to even the scores for England and send the shootout to sudden death, but unfortunately he saw his spot-kick brilliantly saved by Donnarumma. So despite Jordan Pickford’s heroics and England’s best effort it’s Euphoria for Italy and heart break for the three lions.

Player Ratings:

England Player Ratings: Pickford (9), Shaw (9), Maguire (10), Stones (8), Walker (8), Trippier (7), Rice (8), Philips (9), Mount (7), Sterling (8), Kane (10).

England SUBS Player Ratings: Saka (10), Henderson (5), Grealish (7) Rashford (10), Sancho (10).

Italy Player Ratings: Donnarumma (9), Emerson (6), Chiellini (6), Bonucci (10), De Lorenzo (6), Jorginho (10), Barella (7), Verratti (6), Insigne (7), Chiesa (9), Immobile (6).

Italy SUBS Player Ratings: Cristante (6), Berardi (10), Belotti (10), Bernardeschi (10), Florenzi (6).

The reason certain players have a 10/10: I’ve decided, taking inspiration from Sky Sports, to give a 10/10 to any player regardless of their team or level of experience who had the guts to step up and take a penalty in a pressure situation like that. There’s an upcoming article about the three England lads who missed and why criticism, let alone online abuse, is completely unjustified, wrong and twisted. Any player who has the guts to take a penalty in a shootout for their country in the final of a major tournament deserves nothing but respect.

So congratulations to Italy on winning their first EUROs title and being a joy to watch for majority of the tournament. As for England of course I’m disappointed on losing the final, but I’m so proud of this young team. Today I feel both heartbreak and pride. Two very different emotions, but two I find myself, and I’m sure many others around the country, also feel. Never have I felt a connection and love for an England side as much as this one. A well-balanced squad with a youthful core surrounded by a few experienced players. All very likeable lads, gave everything for the shirt and did the nation proud at this tournament. And although it hurts now, and probably will continue to do so, I hope they can look back at how much progress they’ve made since that Iceland defeat back in 2016. It’s a real credit to the players, coaching staff and the manager Gareth Southgate, who I 100% back and find anyone who criticizes him ludicrous. I look forward to seeing the three lions bounce back, and I really do feel as though we have the squad and players coming through to dominate international football for the next 10 years.

Let’s bring it home Qatar 2022.


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.