Sunday, 11th of July 2021
UEFA European Championship Final
Italy vs England
Venue – Wembley Stadium
Kick Off – 8.00 pm
Odds – Home 2/1 Away 8/5
* All odds are accurate at the time of writing and were provided by a popular Irish bookmaker.
Watch On – RTE 2, BBC and ITV
Referee – Bjorn Kuipers
The sporting world is getting spoiled rotten this weekend.
Between the Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier fight, along with the Copa America final between Brazil and Argentina. There’ll be plenty of folks missing out on their eight hours of beauty sleep.
Despite these mammoth events, there’s only one contest in the forefront of everyone’s mind, and that’s the Euro 2020 final.
This Sunday, the 16th UEFA European Championship final will go down at Wembley Stadium, between Italy and England.
So, is football coming home or to Rome?
The Italians are gearing up for their fourth European Championship final.
Previously, they beat Yugoslavia in Rome back in 1968, but lost the other two final appearances, against France in 2000, and Spain in 2012, respectively.
Roberto Mancini’s men enter this match on an impressive 33 game unbeaten run, with 27 of those wins coming in competitive fixtures.
Italy dominated Group A on route to the final, beating Turkey, Switzerland, and Wales. They also managed to find the net seven times in those games, along with keeping three consecutive clean sheets.
They made difficult work of a dogged Austria side in the round of 16, relying on extra time strikes from Federico Chiesa, and Matteo Pessina to advance them to the next stage of the tournament.
Big statement victories over Belgium and Spain would follow.
With the latter needing penalties to decide the first finalist for Euro 2020. Thankfully for the Italians, goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was on hand to save two Spain spot kicks, from Dani Olmo, and Alvaro Morata.
In fact, no side has gone past the initial 90 minutes more in European Championship history than the ‘Azzurri’, who’ve reached extra-time nine times.
This grittiness, and comfortability in those deep waters will be a real asset to Italy in this key fixture.
Add in their 12 goals so far in the competition, with another one breaking their goal scoring tally record for a single major tournament, and they’re coming into this one in fine fettle.
On the flip side, England are entering their inaugural European Championship final, and their first major final since their World Cup triumph in 1966.
It’s been a rollercoaster 55-year wait for loyal followers of the ‘Three Lions’, with them supporting their nation through 302 competitive games since their last major tournament final.
Italy may be the home side in administrative terms, but the English will certainly be looking to make home advantage a huge factor.
England will be the third country to host the final of the Euros in the 21st century. With Portugal facing Greece in the 2004 finale, and France coming up against Portugal in 2016.
Albeit both sides playing on home soil lost on those occasions.
England will look to join Spain in 1964, Italy in 1968 and France in 1984, as a nation to win this prestigious trophy at home.
The group stage process was somewhat comfortable for Gareth Southgate’s squad. They topped Group D ahead of Croatia, Czech Republic, and Scotland. Netting just two goals on that run.
A clash with the old enemy Germany awaited them in the first knockout round. One which England won 2-0. Capping off their first win against the Germans in the knockout stages of a major international tournament, since the 1966 World Cup final.
An extremely comfortable 4-0 win over Ukraine in the quarter final followed.
Along with a tense 2-1 win over Denmark at Wembley in the semi-final, which required extra-time. Harry Kane punched his nations ticket to the final with a late penalty rebound, from a controversial potential dive from Manchester City’s, Raheem Sterling.
Who’s Taking It?
These two sides have met 27 times in the past. With Italy taking the W in ten of those meetings, England coming out on top after eight of them, and nine of their encounters ending in a stalemate.
More notably, Italy have come up trumps during all four of their previous meetings in major competitions.
Thankfully, injuries aren’t a massive factor for both managers. Italy are only missing midfielder Leonardo Spinazzola, who picked up a nasty Achilles Tendon injury.
Prediction – Italy on penalties, another cruel night for the Wembley Stadium faithful.