England head coach Gareth Southgate believes Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy is a contest between the two best teams in the tournament. Since 1966 FIFA World Cup triumph at the previous Wembley Stadium, England have lost in the semi-finals of five major tournaments: EURO ’68 and ’96, the 1990 and 2018 World Cups, and the 2019 UEFA Nations League. However, the Three Lions have seen off Germany, Ukraine, and Denmark to earn the chance to end 55 years of drought in the Euro 2020.
“It’s an exceptional team and I think, without doubt, the two best teams in the tournament have made the final, and now it’s whoever performs well on the day,” Southgate told Sky in Italy.
“Once you get to a final, you have to win, and that’s going to be very difficult, we know that, but that has to be our ambition, and that has to be our belief,” he added.
“I’ve been watching them closely for two years, because I know the job Roberto Mancini was doing,” he said.
“They’ve got a very clear way of playing, great spirit, great energy in the way they play, tactically like all Italian teams very good, but also the style of play is probably different to the Italian teams from when I was younger, very modern,” he added.
Italy and England have faced each other 27 times, the Azzurri winning 11 to Three Lions’ eight, with eight draws.
England suffered tournament-ending losses in both the teams’ previous EURO encounters. Marco Tardelli’s late goal earned them a 1-0 win in the 1980 group stage while Italy prevailed on penalties in the 2012 quarter-finals.
Notably, Italy has never lost to England at major finals, with 2-1 FIFA World Cup victories in 1990 (third-place play-off) and 2014 (group stage) on top of those EURO triumphs.
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