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Euro 2020 Final: Which Team Has The Upper Hand?

Italy and England, the two best teams of the competition, now find themselves competing in the Euro 2020 Final on Sunday at the Wembley Stadium in London. We have witnessed 50 remarkable games in this competition and the 51st game would crown the new European champion.

But the question which every fan wants to know is which team has the advantage going into the Euro 2020 final? Let’s look at both these team’s strengths and weaknesses individually for you to assess.

 

ITALY

Italy have arguably played the best football in this competition. Roberto Mancini’s men are on a 33-match unbeaten run currently and have reached the final by going past strong teams like Belgium and Spain. They are an aggressive bunch of players and have the experience in defence to carry them through tough periods in a game like we saw against Spain.

 

Strengths: Both the Italian wingers are in red hot form. Federico Chiesa scored for the Azzurri in the semi-final clash against Spain while Lorenzo Insigne has created the most chances in this competition.

The midfield trio of Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Nicolo Barella is a difficult midfield to compete against as they are good on the ball and aggressive with their press.

Defensively, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been two of the best centre-backs in the world for some time now. Right-back Di Lorenzo tends to stay back in build-up play and acts more like the third centre back when Italy have the ball, adding to that defensive block. Their keeper Donnarumma has pulled off some outrageous saves already and if the match goes to penalties then he is a huge figure in goal to score against.

 

Weaknesses: First choice left-back Leonardo Spinazzola has been their best player in the tournament but unfortunately picked up an Achilles injury in the quarter-final match against Belgium. That means Emerson comes in to replace the left-back and the Chelsea defender isn’t of the same standard as Spinazzola. Italy do tend to get their left-back extremely high up the pitch and that leaves plenty of space behind the left-back for the opposition attackers to exploit.

Spain were by far the better team in the semi-final clash against Italy and they did this by deploying a false nine in Dani Olmo. With his clever off the ball movements, Olmo caused plenty of issues to the Italian centre-backs, often pulling them away from their desired position and hence creating space for other attackers to run into. This is how Spain scored against them as well.

Spain also did exceptionally well in stopping the Italian midfielders Verratti and Jorginho in their build-up phase. The two Spanish midfielders Pedri and Koke were on the Italian duo’s back when they wanted to play from the back and that stopped Italy from playing the beautiful way they have done so far in the competition.

 

ENGLAND

Gareth Southgate’s England is a pragmatic team that emphasises more on keeping things defensively solid. Their defensive record is the best in the competition and they are yet to concede from open play.

 

Strengths: Defensive solidity provided by the two centre-backs, John Stones and Harry Maguire with the combination of a defensive pivot in the midfield in the form of Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, makes them a block of four while defending which is difficult to break for any opposition. Kyle Walker adds to this solidity as he tends to stay back while attacking and his exceptional pace helps the team in the recovery.

Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling on the left wing have caused issues for every team they have come up against and their combination play and understanding is top-notch.

Harry Kane is a complete forward who has come alive at the business end of the tournament. He isn’t just a goalscorer but a provider as well as he often drops deep in the midfield pulling a centre-back or so with him to create space for the other attackers.

Southgate has the option of changing matches from the bench given the number of talented attackers he has on the bench, such as Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Marcus Rashford, to name a few.

 

Weaknesses: It has become quite apparent that this England side lacks creativity. Apart from Mason Mount, the midfield lacks that sense of adventure about them and prefers playing safer passes. This makes it difficult for them to break compact defences as we saw against Scotland in the group stages.

Luke Shaw loves to go forward anytime he gets the opportunity, often leaving space in behind him for Declan Rice or Harry Maguire to cover.

We saw in the match against Denmark in the semi-final that even though Jordan Pickford has performed stupendously well in this competition, he has a mistake or two at a crucial stage of the game.

 

CONCLUSION

Overall it promises to be a pretty close encounter between two very well matched teams. England should have the slight advantage given the fact that they will have a full capacity Wembley Stadium rallying them on through the match. Don’t be surprised if the match goes to extra time and still we don’t get a winner. It might as well be decided from the penalty spot after 120 minutes of what we expect to be a high octane encounter.

Read: How Can Teams Be Successful In International Football Tournaments?

 

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