History awaits the last two
Shyam A. Krishna, Senior Associate Editor
Italy or England, who wants to win Euro 2020? Hard to say. The past 28 days have shown us that these are two of the best teams in the 24-team competition. Spain and Denmark would consider themselves incredibly unlucky after making some exciting displays in the semi-finals. But you can’t blame the finalists’ victories.
Roberto Mancini’s side scored the tournament opener with a landslide victory over Turkey. A victory which consolidated Italy’s place among the favorites. During their journey through the group stage and knockout matches, the Italians have shown various facets of their game, including a valiant defense that has always been their hallmark.
Gareth Southgate’s team have always been favorites. England shared a 5/1 pre-tournament odds with France for the victory, which perhaps was flattering. But the team under Harry Kane grew in confidence and stature with each victory.
England was at the dawn of history; they have a chance to erase the 55-year title drought. But they face one of the titans of football: Italy. A team that has won four World Cups and a European title. So they know something about winning at this level. A finale is more of a test of the nerves. The team that holds its nerves will come away the winner.
Read on for predictions from Gulf News staff and football fan Sahil Sajan. Also watch their predictions before the semi-finals.
Italy to pay penalty for England’s years of suffering
Matthew Smith, Sports Writer
For the first time in 55 years, England are back in the final of a major tournament. They beat West Germany in 1966 to lift the Jules Rimet Trophy, and they’re also back in the same spot to face Italy on Sunday, hands closer than ever to the silverware in the meantime.
Gareth Southgate’s side defeated a Denmark in combat on Wednesday in front of a passionate crowd at Wembley.
Finally, England put a paraphrase of “55 years of suffering” behind them to reach a major final. And they were well worth it. In my entire life, I have never seen an English team fight so hard and believe in each other so much – and I include all-star teams Mexico 86 and Italia 90. The boys at Southgate are the real deal. – no prima donnas here – whoever the opponents are at the start of the tournament about a weak manager and too much dependence on their attackers.
A conceded goal – which came from the Danes last night – in the Euro 2020 tournament set is not overreliance on goal scorers in any way. Rather, it is a resilience and determination built up over the years that can only be built from the back.
Italy will be overwhelmed by the crowd and the atmosphere and England will rise to the occasion to finally break their hoodoo trophy.
I opted for Spain as an initial tip before the tournament, and came across Italy in one of the closest and most exciting semi-finals in living memory. I’m not mad at it (some of my coworkers have done worse!). Good luck England. I hope I will have understood this one correctly.
Italy have the talent and the tenacity to win
Shyam A. Krishna, Senior Associate Editor
I am poor at predictions. I had chosen Germany to win at the start, but they crashed in the last 16. Denmark was my choice when 24 teams were reduced to four, but Danish exuberance was not enough to eliminate a tight-knit English side. That didn’t stop me from picking the winners.
So who wants to win Euro 2020? Italy will win, I’m sure. Their positive approach was an eye opener for me. Italians are traditionally grafters who valiantly defend and score on the counters. So it was refreshing to see Roberto Mancini’s side actively seeking goals.
The defense led by captain Giorgio Chiellini has shown that the Italians can stop games when needed. And in the semi-final against Spain, Italy showed their instinct for survival even when they were dominated.
But no team has more motivation than England. The 55-year-old injury after the 1966 World Cup victory is still alive. And that hunger was evident in their victories along the way. England are a good team, but can Gareth Southgate plan for Italy’s downfall? I don’t think so because Italians know a thing or two about winning tournaments.
Four World Cup wins and a European Championship is proof enough of their handling of the game. Something that is a necessity at the upper echelons of the game. Italy has that, and England don’t.
It will be a close affair. Italians love it. The Azzurri will therefore paint Wembley blue on Sunday.
England can go all the way
Imran Malik, Deputy Editor-in-Chief
In my previous prediction I started by talking about England’s chances as I felt with the depth of the team’s quality, the home advantage and an easier group than the others that they could go to. ‘at the end (there is video proof of this!). But being eliminated in the semi-finals of Italy 90, Euro 96 and the 2018 World Cup, I learned the hard way that supporting your team often only brings you pain and misery and therefore to avoid To bring them bad luck, I gave Belgium a tip to go all the way.
It was their golden generation’s last chance to win a major trophy and although they won all of their group matches and had a decent tournament, they never really came alive to light up the competition like they did. the Italians who finally sent them to pack their bags. Now Sunday’s final will pit the best attacking team against the team with the best defensive record.
Italy look a bit vulnerable at the back with Bonucci and Chiellini having a combined age of 70 and with Kane coming into form at the right time and Sterling playing as well as ever, I can see he’s a very entertaining game which may have to be decided on penalties. England always choke when it comes to a shootout – but they’ve finally reached a final after 55 which is a major achievement and I think they’re banishing another ghost by proving they can keep their nerves in a shootout. England to win!
The men of Southgate will finally deliver
Sahil Sajan, special for Gulf News
Well, we’re coming to the end of Euro 2020, and what a tournament roller coaster we’ve had. Before the start of the tournament, I had chosen the reigning champions of Portugal, because of the talent they had in the team. Sadly they were knocked out by Belgium and in all fairness they never looked like an organized squad throughout the tournament.
The upside for me was that I had also predicted that England would advance to the final and it finally happened after a tense game against Denmark. I will definitely support England to win the final as they have finally broken the curse of the semi-finals and will surely play with more freedom against Italy. It will be one of the most difficult tasks to break the Bonucci-Chiellini partnership, but England will surely have the flair to break the deadlock.
The Azurris have the perfect blend of youth and experience
Mohamed Shamseer, Devops Engineer
I was lucky with my predictions. I picked Italy as my favorites for the tournament, Denmark as my black horses and both have done my choices justice.
Who wants to win Euro 2020? I’m going to stick with my original prognosis and Italy to win it. This Italian team is different. Roberto Mancini transformed them in a short time. Unlike their predecessors, Mancini’s team play possession-based football where they like to dictate play, especially in midfield. It’s a refreshing sight for the soccer world, but what wasn’t surprising was their sturdiness at the rear. Despite a combined age of 70, Bonucci, 34, and Chiellini, 36, remain champions of the art of defending, which is the daily bread of Italians. They’ve been the rock at the heart of the defense that celebrates every tackle and clearance with the same gusto they score goals.
Italy started the tournament without any superstar or weakness in their squad, but losing Spinazzola is a big blow for them. He had been their best player because all the good things they did in attack came from the talented left-back right-footed. Now that he is injured, the Italian enthusiasts will use it as additional motivation to win the cup for him. The spirit and unity of this team is unparalleled. From the way they sing their national anthem, we could see the passion running through their veins. Mancini’s side are undefeated in their last 33 matches and are closing in on all-time records for Brazil and Spain, unbeaten for 35 consecutive matches.
Unlike England, they have been tested correctly and have won matches by playing in different ways in this tournament. I don’t think they’ll be fazed by the Wembley audience. Moreover, I firmly believe that this Italian team – with courage, passion and leadership – is here to prove a point after this World Cup debacle. In short, Euro 2020 is coming to Rome.