Euro 2020 Final: England vs Italy: Things to look out for and Gareth Southgate's pre-match thoughts
England v Denmark - UEFA Euro 2020: Semi-final
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07: Harry Kane of England is congratulated after scoring his team's second goal by Jordan Henderson, Phil Foden, Kyle Walker, Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling and Luke Shaw during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Semi-final match between England and Denmark at Wembley Stadium on July 07, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

England take on Italy in the biggest game of a decade, the Three Lions last securing glory in a major tournament back in 1966. With the trophy in their sights the Italians remain in the way of silverware, in a game documented to be the biggest yet for many of the English players careers. 90 minutes of football in Euro 2020 remains as England are currently favourites to end the drought and secure a significant honour for the first time in 55 years.  

The Three Lions overcame Denmark in the previous game, goals from Harry Kane from the spot deep into extra time was enough on the night, just before a deflected goal off Raheem Sterling in normal time bought the scores level, a superb free kick putting the Danish side ahead from Mikkel Damsgaard in the first half.

Italy themselves beat Spain on penalties to progress, a game of two halves for both sides which turned out to be a tough contest both on the pitch and on paper. A game known for the fair share of possession went right down to the wire with penalties the only way to separate both sides. Federico Chiesa put Italy in front on the 60th minute, Alvaro Morata silencing the critics for Spain 10 minutes before full time sending the game deep into extra time.

What team will Southgate pick?

Speed and set pieces might be the key to success for England going into this one. Italy are a team drilled defensively but the same could be said about the Three Lions who have only conceded one goal in the whole tournament. England will be fully focused to eliminate the threats of the Italians in order to achieve success.

Gareth Southgate's men have looked threatening throughout their semi final clash with Denmark from corners, crosses and free kicks. John Stones and Harry Maguire, Maguire scored against Ukraine both having five efforts at goal between them and will remain the main men from these situations come Sunday evening. With the ball at their feet, England can cause problems but they will have to be quick and sharp to pick a way through this experienced and committed Italian defence.

Depending on who plays regardless Southgate isn't likely to make major changes with Bukayo Saka's place the only one questionable at this point in time, Jadon Sancho pushing for a return after his recent performance raised eyebrows. Kalvin Phillips returned to form which he showed in the opener against Croatia with Declan Rice also hardly putting a foot wrong during the tournament. Energy levels ahead of one final push might prove to be very important with Jordan Henderson more than capable in doing a job.

In Sterling and Kane, England possess two forwards who have proven throughout this tournament they are a threat to any defence in Europe and will be pivotal if England are to exploit the backline of Italy. Giorgio Chiellini and Leonadro Bonucci at the back are experienced players brick walls to breakdown when at the top of their games.

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Head-to-Head

24 Jun 2012, England vs Italy, (D) 0-0, UEFA European Championship.

15 Aug 2012, England vs Italy, (W) 2-1, International Friendly.

14 Jun 2014, England vs Italy, (L) 1-2, FIFA World Cup.

31 Mar 2015, England vs Italy, (D) 1-1, International Friendly.

27 Mar 2018, England vs Italy, (D) 1-1, International Friendly.

The thoughts of Southgate ahead of the nations biggest game

Southgate held his press match press conference on Saturday, ahead of the final game of Euro 2020. He faced the media addressing the biggest game in over half a century.

"I mean its been fantastic to have a letter from the queen, a letter from the prime minister to all of the team and that the recognition the players and all the staff have gone about this in the right way. We had a fabulous reception when we left St George's. All of the look villages had come out. So you got more of a sense of what's going on outside of the bubble we have been in. But it always comes back to tomorrow we are in a final, we are here to win so everything its important how we have represented people and we are pleased that, that legacy has been there but now we just want to go there and bring the trophy home for everybody. 

Reaching an England final

"I think we are very calm we have got a lot of belief in these group of players, Harry and myself were just talking earlier, we have grown into the tournament, we knew there were different phases of this tournament and our first objective was to qualify from the group. We stayed calm after the Scotland game when they were the moments where there is criticism and you can adopt a siege mentality and change your approach with people outside we were determined not to do that."

"We were quite consistent in the way we carried ourselves and went about our work. From there it has been opportunities to make history every time we have played it seems. So we have done that and the players have done that. We are looking forward to the challenge its a brilliant game to be involved in and a brilliant game to prepare for as we are playing a high level opponent. They are tactically very good and have had a tremendous run so that's another great challenge for us."

Phil Foden's foot injury?

"No as I said earlier he is a doubt. We have been on the bus for the last couple of hours, so medical team will give us a final update on that later. But he is definitely doubtful although it is not something serious. Its just a case of whether it is going to keep him out of this particular game."

Possible Starting XI?

Pickford: Trippier, Maguire, Stones, Shaw, Phillips, Rice, Mount, Sterling, Saka, Kane.

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