England have one last hurdle in their quest to end 55 years of major tournament heartbreak as they match up to Italy in Sunday’s final of Euro 2020.
Not since 1966 have England appeared in a showpiece finale and while they won the World Cup on that occasion, their clash against the in-form Italians will by no means be a foregone conclusion.
While England start as slight favourites (England to win at 2.65 vs Italy to win at 2.89), it is important to note that there is a strong chance that a single goal might win the final.
One team to score is backed at 1.63 while both teams to score is out at 2.10. Interestingly both semi-finals were locked at 1-1 with Italy needing penalties to advance and England going through after Harry Kane scored a rebounded penalty.
The English are also out to avoid a recent hoodoo when it comes to home sides losing in the final. Both Portugal (2004) and France (2016) both reached the final only to lose when it mattered most.
There is a rich history between the two finalists with their most recent outing ended in a 1-1 draw. On that occasion, now three years ago, it was Jamie Vardy who scored for England in the first half before Lorenzo Insigne netted a penaly at the death. In all, Italy have won ten of their 27 fixtures to England’s eight. But all is not lost for the Three Lions who have scored 33 goals in this time, two more than the Azzurri.
If England are to conquer the continent they must end Italy’s 33-game unbeaten record (W27 D6). Crucially, Italy have now started conceding goals – one in their last three – after going 11 games without conceding.
On the other side, England hadn’t conceded in the championships until a stunning free kick left Jordan Pickford stranded.
England are unlikely to change their lineup which leaves Jack Grealish, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford as potential game changers later on.
“We’ve got to enjoy the fact we’re in the final but there’s one more massive hurdle to conquer,” said Gareth Southgate.
“Italy are a very good side, I’ve thought that the last couple of years. They are in outstanding form and have defensive warriors who have been through everything. It’s a great game to look forward to.”
Sunday’s 9pm kick off puts Italy, looking for their first European championships title since 1968, against a team who have never made it to the final. It could be too close to call.