The European Championship final on Sunday pits England, which hasn’t even reached a final since winning the 1966 World Cup, against one of the continent’s most decorated teams.
The last of Italy’s four World Cup victories came in 2006, when Chiellini had already made his international debut but didn’t play at the tournament. But the team is a comparative underachiever in the European Championship with its only title in 1968.
Italy have not won the Euros since 1968 but the Azzurri are on an unbeaten run of 33 games since September 2018 and have never lost against England at a major event.
This is Italy’s 10th major final (six World Cups and four Euros), with only Germany (14) having played more among the European nations.
This will be England’s first appearance in a Euro final and their first in the final of a major tournament since winning the 1966 World Cup – the longest gap (55 years) between major finals (World Cup or Euros) for any European nation.
Maybe it was just the fact that 25 years ago I was sat there in the crowd. I didn’t play in the semi-final because I was suspended and watching the team I was thinking about how many times we’d come out on the wrong side of these types of matches and how many times it is us that have the bad headlines the morning after.
While Gareth Southgate’s side enjoyed a successful run in the 2018 World Cup, narrowly losing to Croatia in the semi-finals, this is Italy’s first appearance in a major tournament since the 2016 European Championship.
The World Cup in Russia was the first time Italy had not qualified for a major tournament in 60 years but, since Roberto Mancini took over in 2018, they have gone 33 matches unbeaten and are in the 2020 Euro final.
Hopefully Harry Kane likes hugs and is not psyched out by Chiellini’s calm character filled with humour, smiles and playful punches.And, while this is undoubtedly a more adventurous Azzurri than previous Italian sides, there have been signs of their old tricks and defensive mastery as the tournament has progressed – very much led by Chiellini.
The Juventus centre-back loves nothing better than defending. His roars and high fives to celebrate a headed clearance or a big tackle have been as evident as his cheerleading role has among the players and supporters.He played for Italy under-21s in the first official game at the new Wembley 15 years ago – refusing to leave the field after receiving a head wound – and England will know that, to beat the new Italy at Wembley on Sunday, they will have to get past one of the most cunning, determined and finest defenders of the past 20 years.
The Euro 2020 final is upon us as an in-form Italy and England are all set to lock horns at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday in London, England
It has been a dream run for both Italy and England in the ongoing competition. Both teams have been unbeaten and haven’t leaked in too many goals either.
England have lost in the semi-finals of five major tournaments: the 1968 and 1996 Euros, the 1990 and 2018 World Cups and the 2019 UEFA Nations League. But Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions have impressed throughout Euro 2020, with Sterling and Kane showing true grit to overcome Denmark 2-1 in the semi-final.
Italy’s last Euro title came when they hosted in 1968. Since then, the Azzurri have stumbled twice at the final hurdle, losing out to France in 2000, then Spain in 2012. But having defeated Spain 4-2 on penalties to make the final, Italy remain unbeaten in 33 matches and Roberto Mancini is favourite to lead his men into the history books.