It wasn’t a dream. Actual England are in the actual final of Euro 2020 – and we firmly believe this is their time
By Chris Miller, Writer
Semi-final heartbreak? What semi-final heartbreak? After years of being the nearly men, England have made it all the way to the final of the European Championships. The country is starting to believe… So here’s why we think the Three Lions will be roaring in triumph come Sunday night.
1. England have a 100% record in finals
Every tournament final they’ve been to, they’ve won. You can’t argue with that sort of success. What happened to Italy the last time they got to a final? They got smashed 4-0 by Spain at Euro 2012, that’s what. And to stack the odds even more in England’s favour, Sunday’s showdown is at Wembley – scene of 100% of England’s final victories. The stats just don’t get clearer than that.
2. England have the player of the tournament
It’s hard to believe now that when the team was announced for the first match against Croatia, Raheem Sterling’s inclusion was met with indifference or even negativity. Six brilliant performances later, including four goals, that seems ridiculous. The Man City forward’s sparkling skill, tireless running and, of course, superb finishing have put him head and shoulders above anyone else at the Euros. He’s the man for the big occasion – and they don’t get much bigger than Sunday night.
3. England just don’t concede
Science hasn’t yet figured out conclusively what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. We think that’s because the boffins haven’t used Harry Maguire as the stationary entity in their experiments. Italy may have scored 12 goals in their run to the final but England haven’t conceded a single one from open play – and it took a pretty special Danish free-kick to beat Jordan Pickford. The Everton keeper and his phenomenal back line have repelled every attack since the first whistle in the first match and we don’t see that changing.
4. England are fresher
If you watched Italy’s semi-final, you watched 120 minutes of Italians frantically chasing nimble Spaniards around the Wembley pitch. At the end of all that, they had to deal with a penalty shoot-out. That’s a punishing drain on any team’s physical and mental strength – and it came on top of extra time in their last-16 match against Austria. In contrast, although England may have gone to extra time in the semi, they’ve put themselves in a position to stroll through the final parts of their last two games. It’s all about the legs at this stage.
5. England can out-Italy Italy
When England and Italy last met at a tournament, in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals, Cesare Prandelli’s team prevailed on penalties after Steven Gerrard, John Terry and co spent two hours being bamboozled by the all-time great midfield schemer Andrea Pirlo. With 20 shots on target (and a further 15 off), how Italy didn’t score remains a mystery. In 2021, though, Italy don’t have anyone to match Pirlo’s genius – and what’s this England have up their sleeve? It’s Kalvin Phillips, aka “The Yorkshire Pirlo”, the Leeds man who may have just 14 international caps but has dominated the midfield throughout this Euros. England’s defiant defending is highly Italy-esque too…
6. England have Sir Gareth Southgate
Don’t get us wrong – we’re big fans of Italy boss Roberto Mancini, with his well-cut suits, stylish hair and twinkly eyes. We would never wish him ill. But our feelings for Gareth are on another level altogether. Composed, thoughtful, sincere and fiercely protective of his players, he has overcome both the doubters and the ghosts of Euro 96 to do what no England manager in half a century has done: lead his team to a major final. If anyone deserves it, it’s Gareth. That’s how football works… right?
When is the Euro 2020 final on TV?
You can watch it from 6.30pm on ITV/HD (CH 103/113) or 7pm on BBC One/HD (CH 101/108) on Sunday 11 July. Not able to get in front of the telly for the big showdown? You can follow all the action on up to four devices at no extra cost with the Virgin TV Go app.
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