Euro 2020 final: Italy has a historic advantage over England

LONDON (AP) – “Panenka” by Pirlo. Schillaci’s Golden Shoe scorer. Another moving goal celebration from Marco Tardelli.

The major tournament rivalry – if you can call it that – between Italy and England has had a few defining moments, and they all belong to the Italians.

In four meetings at a World Cup or a European Championship, the Azzurri have won three and qualified through a penalty shootout in the other.

England could have the home advantage in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final between the teams at Wembley Stadium but historically Italy has the advantage.

“We know the scale of the task,” England coach Gareth Southgate said. “This is the greatest possible test we can have.”

It is not a classic international rivalry. Indeed, they have only met once in a knockout game in a major tournament and that was in 2012, when Italy won 4-2 on penalties in Kiev – after a 0-0 draw in overtime – in the last heartache for England.

We will remember better a penalty “Panenka” coldly taken by the elegant midfielder Andrea Pirlo halfway through the shootout. England were somewhat lucky to go this far after being outplayed for much of the game.

It has been a theme.

The first game between England and Italy in a tournament came at Euro 1980, when Tardelli led a near-post finish past goalkeeper Peter Shilton to give the Azzurri a 1-0 win. in their second group game.

Tardelli is best known for his screaming celebration after scoring Italy’s second goal in a 3-1 win over West Germany in the 1982 World Cup final. His reaction after the goal winning over England was also touching as he circled around the perimeter of the pitch before rolling on the ground and holding his head in his hands.

In 1990, the teams met for third place in the World Cup qualifiers in Italy. It’s seen as a game nobody really wants to play, coming so soon after the semi-final defeats, but it at least gave Italy striker Salvatore Schillaci the opportunity to become the tournament’s top scorer. .

And he took it, converting a penalty in the 86th minute to give Italy a 2-1 victory and finish with six goals, one more than Czechoslovak striker Tomas Skuhravy.

The tournament’s only other meeting was in the 2014 World Cup group stage and the Italians won again, with Mario Balotelli’s second-half header giving them a 2-1 victory in scorching Manaus in the Amazon rainforest. from Brazil.

Since then, there have been two 1-1 draws in friendlies, neither of which was played until Roberto Mancini became Italy manager in May 2018.

The overall record stands at 11 wins for Italy and eight wins for England out of a total of 27 matches. Unbeaten in the first eight meetings, England have managed only one victory in the last seven.

Under Mancini, Italy are on a 33-game unbeaten streak – a national record.

“They have been a top team for the past couple of years,” Southgate said. “We have been following their progress closely. We know the way they play – with great energy, with great style – against whom it’s always difficult to score. “

Italy’s influence on English national football has been enormous over the past decade, with three coaches – Mancini (Manchester City in 2012), Claudio Ranieri (Leicester in 2016) and Antonio Conte (Chelsea in 2017) – leading teams to Premier League titles.

Mancini ended City’s 44-year wait for a top-tier championship, but was sacked a year later, just three days after a surprising FA Cup final loss to Wigan.

The loss came at Wembley, where Mancini returns on Sunday with the aim of guiding Italy to a second European title.

“I think Italy vs England is always a great game,” said Italian midfielder Marco Verratti, who made his international debut in a 2-1 loss to England in a friendly match in Bern, Switzerland in August 2012.

“Two great teams and nations. Both deserve to be in the final. They had a sensational tournament. We both performed well but there can only be one winner and I hope that’s us.

More Euro 2020 coverage:

Comments are closed.