If England’s long trophy drought is to finally end, there will probably be no better opportunity than the Euro 2021 final at London’s Wembley Stadium on Sunday. The last remaining obstacle standing in the way of a first major title since 1966 is Italy, a team that hasn’t lost a match in a team-record 33 games.
England has already made history simply by reaching the Euro final — its first major tournament final in 55 years — and it’s done it on the back of impressive defensive performances (only one goal conceded) and timely scoring from its veteran forwards Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. But English fans are used to heartbreak over the years, and they know the final hurdle has often proven to be the toughest for this team.
Italy has won the Euro before, but it’s been a while (1968). After advancing to the final in 2000 and 2012, the Azzurri are hoping to finally add a second title, while also changing the image of Italian soccer along the way. Under manager Roberto Mancini, the Italians have generally left a positive impression and shown the world that Italian soccer is making a comeback after a down period that included missing out on the 2018 World Cup.
It’s a compelling matchup between two of the most passionate and storied soccer nations on the planet. Although England is the favorite, according to the oddsmakers, this is a match that will come down to a key moment or two that could go either way.
How to watch the Euro 2021 final
- Date: Sunday, July 11
- Time: 3 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
- Spanish-language TV: Univision, TUDN
- Streaming: fuboTV, ESPN+, TUDN app, TUDN.tv
The Euro 2021 championship match will be broadcast in the USA by ESPN in English and Univision and TUDN in Spanish.
Both those networks can be streamed on fuboTV (free 7-day trial). ESPN+ will carry the match for subscribers and the match will be available on the TUDN app for authenticated users.
England vs. Italy projected lineups
Italian media indicate that Mancini was contemplating using a false nine in the attack in lieu of the largely ineffective center forward Ciro Immobile. But the latest reports indicate that Immobile, who’s been leading the line as the regular starter, will keep his place.
What was clear from the semifinal against Spain is that the Azzurri really missed the attacking boost provided by Leonardo Spinazzola down the left wing. Emerson Palmieri filled in for the injured star left back (ruptured Achilles tendon), but Italy appeared less dynamic without its starter.
Gareth Southgate hasn’t been afraid to tweak his formation during the tournament, switching between a four-man backline or a five-man set-up (three central defenders and two wingbacks) as necessary. It’s the biggest decision he faces. Given Jorginho and Marco Verratti are the linchpins of Italy’s game in central midfield, the 4-2-3-1 should allow England to pressure the Italian duo more effectively.
The other question mark would seem to be who plays on the right. Bukayo Saka was selected against Denmark and performed well, but English media outlets are debating whether his age (19) and relative inexperience on the biggest stage might lead to a change for the final. Phil Foden won’t be an option after picking up a knock in training. Jadon Sancho is also an option.
England (4-2-3-1, left to right): 1-Jordan Pickford-GK — 3-Luke Shaw, 6-Harry Maguire, 5-John Stones, 2-Kyle Walker — 4-Declan Rice, 14-Kalvin Phillips — 10-Raheem Sterling, 19 Mason Mount, 25-Bukayo Saka — 9-Harry Kane
Italy (4-3-3, left to right): 21-Gigi Donnarumma-GK — 13-Emerson Palmieri, 19-Leonardo Bonucci, 3-Giorgio Chiellini (C), 2-Giovanni Di Lorenzo — 6-Marco Verratti, 8-Jorginho, 18-Nicolo Barella — 10-Lorenzo Insigne, 17-Ciro Immobile, 14-Federico Chiesa
England vs. Italy: Odds & prediction
If teams are usually cautious and conservative in championship finals, don’t expect to see many goals in Sunday’s final with these two teams: England has found a defensive formula that works, conceding only two goals in the last 12 matches. In its 33-match undefeated run, Italy has only given up 10 goals.
It’s a match that will come down to a key moment or two and as the likely aggressors, England will be in the best position to create those moments. Given their multiple weapons to beat teams — set pieces plays, speed and dribbling on the wings, pinpoint crossing and creative passing movements via the likes of Mason Mount — England should find a way through eventually.
As the knockout rounds have progressed, Italy have created less (1.3 and 0.4 expected goals against Belgium and Spain) and conceded more dangerous chances (1.7 in both the quarterfinal and semifinal).
The free-flowing attacking soccer that won it plaudits during the group stage feels like it’s a distant memory and Italy has become reliant on moments of individual brilliance in attack instead of intricate movements and combinations. And goalkeeper Gigi Donnarumma has become more influential in each match.
While the Italians have the tools and mentality to pull this one off, they won’t be a match for an English side that finally sees a trophy within reach.
Prediction: England 1, Italy 0
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
- England to win (90 mins): +148
- England to win the trophy: -121
- Draw (90 mins): +190
- Italy to win (90 mins): +240
- Italy to win the trophy: +102
- Total goals Under 1.5: +148
- England to score first and win: +170
- England to win by one goal: +285
- England -0.25 Asian Handicap: +106
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