After being postponed for a year, Euro 2020 has finally reached its long-awaited final tonight. In the last weeks, 50 matches were played across 11 countries with a record of 2.8 goals per game. It won’t be a tournament known for its outstanding football, iconic goals or individual superstars. If anything, it will be known for the incredible team spirit some squads have shown. World Champion France and Euro 2016 Winner Portugal didn’t make it to the quarter-finals. Neither did the disappointing Germans and Dutch. Belgium’s golden generation left the tournament disillusioned. Turkey and Russia went home ashamed without a win. The Swiss kicked out the French and almost the Spanish. The much-loved Danes surprised everyone but stranded in the semi-finals. Now that the dust has settled, the teams left standing are the ecstatic English and the immense Italians, which means that football is either going home, or to Rome.
So, who will have the upper hand in the final?
Interestingly, both teams are not playing in a style they are known for. Southgate plays a long way off from kick-and-rush and focuses on the nil with a cautious strategy. As a result, England has only conceded one goal, and that one didn’t even come from open play – but from a free kick. While they have created only half the amount of goal attempts as the Italians, they have scored two goals less than them. Four of the ten goals are scored by Harry Kane, who is eager to win back-to-back Golden Boots after winning in 2018. A side note on goals, Mr O.G. already has a record crushing 11 goals.
Mancini, contrary to Southgate, lets his team play a more attacking style, also not something they are known for and definitely a long way off from catenaccio. The Italians have scored 12 goals so far. They are less dependent than the English on individuals (Kane/Sterling) as six different players have scored so far. The Azzurri’s confidence is flying high; they are unbeaten in their last 33 matches; only 2 wins away from equalling record holders Spain and Brazil.
They say experience at major tournaments counts—even across generations. Italy’s track record is much better than England’s. They brought home four World Cups while England only won that one World Cup in 1966. England’s track record in the Euros is surprisingly poor, with only one semi-final in 1968; the year Italy won. The Italians have also reached the final and the last 4 twice.England however, has the most expensive team in the competition, with a combined value of EUR 1.25 billion (Kane counts for almost 10% of that). Italy’s combined value ranked sixth, with only EUR 771 million. The Three Lions are playing at home for an ecstatic and almost liberated (from Covid) crowd. Having said that, the Italians will most likely use that as a source of motivation. Both teams are defensively strong and have enough creativity and goal scoring power to win the match. Their intelligent coaches without a doubt will have designed a solid game plan (as well as a plan B and C). More than ever, it will come down to team spirit and mentality. Who wants it the most? Who will fight the hardest for each other and their nation? Which team will win the EURO 2020?