England will have the chance to win their first-ever European Championship on Sunday if they can beat Italy. And according to Martin Keown, Raheem Sterling could hold the answers to a lot of questions.
Sterling had a pretty average season with Manchester City but the forward has come to life in the last month, scoring three goals and providing one assist in six European Championship appearances.
Martin Keown believes the Italian defenders will be worried about keeping Raheem Sterling at bay and he is one English player who can cause Bonucci and Chiellini all sorts of problems.
He told MailSport: “The statistics say nobody has made more dribbles at Euro 2020 than Sterling.
“Chiellini and Bonucci would be petrified to see England’s left winger running at them, and Kane remaining at the top of the team would pin back those ageing centre halves.
“Italy have a history of iconic defenders playing well into their thirties. Franco Baresi did it and so did Paolo Maldini. Now they have got Chiellini and Bonucci.
“I was 35 when I made my last England appearance, and 37 when I last appeared for Arsenal in the Premier League. When you are competing at that age, you are aware that the end is near.
“You try to make up for your lack of mobility and pace in other areas, and Chiellini and Bonucci are world-class organisers and peerless in their positioning. But they have weaknesses which England can exploit.”
Raheem Sterling to be the point of difference?
Based on his performance for Man City in the 2020-21 season, not everyone expected Raheem Sterling to start for England in the Euros.
But the forward has perfectly repaid Gareth Southgate’s faith in him by pulling out some top drawer performances in the past few weeks.
The likes of Bonucci and Chiellini have seen it all in their long careers so they are not likely to be fazed by another major threat on Sunday.
Having said that though, age is catching up with these two central defenders and the one thing they won’t like is seeing the England players making runs behind their shoulders.
As long as the England forwards keep playing in front of them, Bonucci and Chiellini should handle everyone quite easily but if Raheem Sterling and co can find a way to run behind them then Italy will be in all sorts of trouble.