England and Italy count down to Euro 2020 final | Football news

LONDON (Reuters) – England and Italy count to Sunday’s Euro 2020 final as Gareth Southgate’s men seek to end a 55-year drought, but Italians aim to spoil the party from Wembley.
Sporting immortality awaits England captain Harry Kane and his teammates, who are desperate to make their name in the record books by winning just the second major trophy in the country’s history.
Wembley, which was also the site of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph, will host around 65,000 fans for the game despite the coronavirus restrictions still in place.
England started the tournament as one of many contenders to win the trophy and have enjoyed all of their games except one at home.
Southgate’s men will be approached by the vast majority of a crowd which has created a crackling atmosphere for England’s second round game against Germany and the semi-final against Denmark.
“We’ve all waited so long as players, as audiences, as people to see ourselves in the final,” Kane said. “So these are opportunities that you have to seize with both hands.
“We have an incredible chance to win our second major trophy as a country. The players that we have had over the years and produced, we are also proud to represent them.
“We have to be excited for this, we have to enjoy it, but of course any football game, we are all winners here, we all want to win and we will need everything to get the job done on Sunday.”
On their way to England stands a seasoned Italian team who have restored the pride of the nation after failing even to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
England have never beaten Italy in a major tournament, although meetings between the nations have been rare.
Italy triumphed on penalties in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals in Ukraine and won 2-1 in their 2014 World Cup group stage meeting, though both sides had ended up being eliminated in the first round.
The two teams have since transformed.
The Azzurri have lit up Euro 2020 since their 3-0 victory over Turkey in the opener a month ago.
They are on a national record of 33 games unbeaten under the guidance of coach Roberto Mancini, who has spent time in England both as a player and as a manager.
It will be their third game of the tournament at Wembley, where they beat Austria 2-1 in extra time in the round of 16 and Spain on penalties in a captivating semi-final on Tuesday.
“Playing at home doesn’t scare us,” said veteran Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci.
“We are looking forward to going on the pitch although most of the fans present will be English. We want to do something historic, have a great performance and then we will see how it ends.”
Italy had the support of around 11,000 British supporters in the semi-final and their supporters will once again be in attendance for the final.
Reports in Italy said 6,500 tickets had already been sold to fans in Britain and that number would be bolstered by 1,000 more who will travel to the country for the match, including President Sergio Mattarella.
The Azzurri are looking to end a long wait to win the European Championship. The quadruple World Cup winners have only been continental champions once, despite it being just a four-team event in 1968.
They have since reached two finals, losing to France in 2000 and Spain in 2012. Sunday’s game will be their 10th major tournament final.
Mancini was praised for the work he has done since taking office in 2018 in the aftermath of Italy’s failure to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
“Beyond the players, I would say it all comes from Mancini who knows how to make the right choices,” Italian legend Dino Zoff told AFP.
“For me, it’s no surprise to see Italy in the final. I was convinced they would do well.”
Apart from preparing for the final, European football’s governing body, UEFA, fined the England Football Association 30,000 euros ($ 35,500) after a laser pointer was aimed on Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel on Wednesday.
The sanction also takes into account the disturbances during the national anthems at Wembley and the lighting of fireworks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *