It's showtime, ladies and gentlemen, as The Euro 2020 final is set to take place on Sunday. It was an exciting month but as we know – “There can be only one” with Italy and England bidding to win the precious Henri Delaunay Trophy in Sunday's Wembley showdown.
England's 55-year wait to reach a major final is now over at last after another memorable win against Denmark at Wembley in the Euro 2020 semi-finals.
Italy, on the other hand, are looking for their first European Championship trophy since 1968 and while the Azzurri managed to win the World Cup twice in that period, they still struggle to claim their second European title, losing two finals – in 2000 and 2012.
The Azzurri are yet to lose against England at a Major competition, winning 1-0 at Euro 1980, 2-1 at both the 1990 and 2014 World Cups as well as a 4-2 penalty shootout victory in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals, following a goalless draw in open play.
Italy Betting Preview
The Azzurri have left their training base in Florence on Saturday morning as they travel to London, looking to extend their 33-game unbeaten run under Roberto Mancini.
From World Cup absentees to Euro 2020 finalists, The Italians clearly outclassed their opponents throughout the group stage while their knockout phase run has not been that spectacular, yet the calibre of their opponents required a completely different approach and Roberto Mancini's men are deservedly into the final.
However, the Italians looked exhausted in the closing part of their semi-final against Spain and they had to survive a penalty shootout but they have five days to fully recover and prepare for the final battle.
Roberto Mancini will likely name an unchanged starting side against England as the former Manchester City boss should opt for more defensive stability rather than looking for spectacularity.
Federico Chiesa once again started over Domenico Berardi at the right-wing and it was a move that paid off as Chiesa's strike earned Italy a 1-0 lead over La Roja.
Leonardo Spinazzola's injury is a huge blow for Italy as the left-back was one of the competition's standout performers and his relentless runs would've been so needed against the pacey English wingers. With that said, Chelsea's Emerson should deputize at left-back.
Captain Giorgio Chiellini, who missed the famous Euro 2012 quarter-final against England due to a thigh injury, is arguably the most influential figure for Italy and his passion can be seen on and off the pitch, particularly when he commands his teammates or the way he sings the national anthem.
He was already making his name in the Serie A when a 21-year-old Chiellini wasn't included in Marcello Lippi's Italy selection for the 2006 World Cup – but back then the Italians had experienced defenders like Fabio Cannavaro, Alessandro Nesta, Andrea Barzagli, Fabio Grosso, Marco Materazzi and Gianluca Zambrotta.
Since he joined Inter Milan, Nicolò Barella thrives and his progress has become even more impressive under Antonio Conte's guidance. Now, the 24-year-old shines around the likes of Jorginho and Marco Verratti in Italy's midfield, and the trio will be involved in perhaps the most important battle against England.
England Betting Preview
Unbeaten in their last 12 matches in all competitions (11 wins and one draw) and winning 15 of their last 17 games at Wembley (15-1-1), England are just one final step away from eternal glory as they have been highly efficient en route to the Euro 2020 final.
Two narrow wins over Croatia and the Czech Republic, as well as a goalless draw with rivals Scotland in the group stage saw them book a last 16 tie against their old arch-rivals Germany, and it was through matching up the Germans’ formation that The Three Lions were able to emerge victorious.
The 2-0 win over Germany has been followed by a comfortable 4-0 hammering of Ukraine in Rome – England's first and last match away from Wembley – while Harry Kane's rebound goal sent them to the final of the European Championship for the first time in the nation's history.
However, it wasn't an easy job as England's impressive streak of five consecutive clean sheets at the Euros was ended when the Great Danes earned a 1-0 lead courtesy of Mikkel Damsgaard's stunning free-kick.
Many would criticize the manner of England's extra-time win over Denmark and should it have been a penalty for England? Well, leaving all emotions aside, England avoided another heartbreaking setback and they deserve to be at the final with their comprehensive performance and maturity shown so far in the competition.
Indeed, Gareth Southgate's side looks more mature and ready to storm the title than they were three years ago in Russia, and the fact that the England boss can afford to bench players like Jordan Henderson, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho speaks for itself.
Arsenal's teenager Bukayo Saka probably received a surprise call-up to the England squad and the fact he starts over Phil Foden, Grealish, Rashford and Sancho shows how much he had progressed over the past couple of months.
Man City starlet Phil Foden missed England's open training session on Saturday as he has suffered a ‘minor knock' but according to the reports, that was a precaution and all other 25 members of Gareth Southgate's selection were available for the session.
Phil Foden had started England's opening two games against Croatia and Scotland, though he did not feature in the next three games against the Czech Republic, Germany and Ukraine. However, having not started the last four matches and also missing training on Saturday, it's unlikely that Foden would start on Sunday, though substitutions could prove crucial depending on how the match goes.
It remains to be seen whether Southgate's conservative philosophy would see him going for a back three – as he did against Germany – or the England boss will take an “offensive” stance against Roberto Mancini's predictable 4-3-3 system.
Possible Starting Lineups of Italy and England
Italy: Gianluigi Donnarumma – Emerson, Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Giovanni Di Lorenzo – Nicolò Barella, Jorginho, Marco Verratti – Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa. (4-3-3)
England: Jordan Pickford – Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, John Stones, Kyle Walker – Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips – Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount, Bukayo Saka – Harry Kane. (4-2-3-1)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
England (+165) are slight moneyline favorites over Italy (+205), while a draw can be backed at +205 with BetOnline.
Patience has been key to success for either side en route to the final and it remains to be seen which side will remain composed and more patient heading into Sunday's Euro 2020 final.
Italy have already scored 12 goals at Euro 2020 – as many as they did throughout Euro 2012 and 2016 combined – and the Azzurri will be keen to break England's solid defense at Wembley. But on the other hand, we strongly doubt that Mancini will demand an attacking-minded approach, particularly when his English counterpart became known for his own conservative philosophy and given the exceptional pace of England's attackers.
Generally speaking, England have the home advantage but Italy have more experience when it comes to such games, particularly their centre-back pairing of Chiellini and Bonucci – they were both starters when Cesare Prandelli's Italy reached the Euro 2012 final. Moreover, this will be Italy's 10th major final (six World Cups and four Euros) and, as mentioned above, the Azzurri also have a very good record against England at major competitions.
All in all, the last home side to win a European Championship final was Michel Hidalgo's France in 1984 (2-0 win over Spain) and to be honest, the pressure falls on England.
Last but not least, Roberto Mancini is a proven tactician, with several years at Manchester City, and whereas Mancini restored the Italian faith, Gareth Southgate also achieved some great results with England at the 2018 World Cup and at Euro 2020, so he should be quite confident in his own ability.
With that in mind then, expect another nail-biting and probably cagey affair on Sunday between two great tactical sides. We won't be surprised if the game goes into extra time after a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes.