England take on Italy in the final of the European Championship on Sunday and this will be the first time the Three Lions will play in a EURO final.
Obviously, there will be nerves from the English players since this will the national team’s first major tournament final since the 1966 World Cup. But, Gareth Southgate have reached the final purely on merit and on Sunday they will be the favourites to lift the trophy.
Technically this is a home game for Italy but England will be playing in front of the Wembley crowd so they are going to get full support from their fans.
Italy are also the deserved finalist and given their defensive aura, it will be an uphill battle for the English side to score against the Azzurri. A lot of pundits and experts have their own opinion on how England should line up and play against Italy on Sunday so we decided to take a look at the opinions given by three of the most renowned football experts in the UK.
Jamie Redknapp – Stop Jorginho:
Jamie Redknapp believes England’s key to lifting the trophy could depend on how they manage Jorginho during the match.
He told Sky Sports: “There are some elements in their team you can target.
“I think Jorginho is a fantastic player technically, but can you hurry him up? Can you put him under pressure? When that ball gets played into him at times, of course he’s brilliant. He gets it on the half turn, play passes and sometimes he can make you look a little bit of a fool.
“But you’ve still got to gamble and try and press him, winning the ball high up the pitch. If you can do that, then straight away you are at their back four and with their high full-backs, you can get the ball down the sides to get at them.
“There are areas where you can get at this Italian side but make no mistake, they are a brilliant side. They are confident, they are resilient, and they are everything we talk about when discussing Italian sides.
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“So, it is going to be a hard game, but I personally feel yes, of course we can beat them. We will show them the respect they deserve, no doubt, and Gareth will be looking at a plan to make sure we do that.
“But I don’t see this as a game against a team with five or six players who can take the game away from you. I don’t see that in this Italian side as they do it as a team. I think that’s why they have been so successful.”
Sam Allardyce – Crack the code:
Ex-England boss Sam Allardyce has claimed that the English side will first have to figure out how Italy are going to play on Sunday since Roberto Mancini has used two very distinct tactics during the European Championship.
Big Sam said: “I’d start Saka. As a young man, I think he’s had a great experience but in that area, there may be a change.
“I can’t see him[Southgate] making too many other changes unless he plays a back three and then I think Kyle Walker will be one of the centre-halves. And maybe Trippier comes in or James.
“Italy against Spain were relying on counter-attacking football and you don’t want to get sucked into that, they let you come at them.
“Earlier in the tournament, they were playing a high pressing game so I’m not quite sure how Mancini is going to play against England. Is he going to drop off and do the counter-attacking like he was doing against Spain or is he going to go and press right from the front.
“If it’s that counter attacking football then you must fill those spaces if you’re attacking because the minute you lose the ball they’ll exploit those spaces. So, that’s something England have to be careful of.
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“In the next couple of days, they’ll talk about that, they’ll watch a lot of videos, a lot of analysis and say we’ve got to try and remember this when we’re on the field.”
Antonio Conte – Rely on the front men:
Antonio Conte had a wonderful season with Inter Milan and the former Italy manager believes England will need to heavily rely on their attacking players to be able to overcome the Italian rigidity.
He told Football Italia: “Unlike Spain, who tended to pass it backwards, they always try to hit you in one-on-one situations.
“Many praise Harry Kane for his ability to go get the ball and play with the team, such as with the equaliser against Denmark. Of course, he’s good at that too, but it’s in the box where he’s clinical and as a coach, I would always keep him in there, because he’s devastating.
“There are two very physical midfielders like Rice and Phillips, who bring balance, but very few vertical passes, often going for the simple option.
“A weak spot for England is that if their defence is pressed when building out from the back, they aren’t as good as Spain at escaping the press. However, if you are ultra-attacking in your press and they do escape, then watch out for their pace upfront.”