England

Italy vs England: 5 key battles that could decide the Euro 2020 final

Max Cooper
England's hopes rest on Kane's performance against the backline
England's hopes rest on Kane's performance against the backline / Frank Augstein - Pool/Getty Images
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It's almost upon us. On Sunday evening, the eyes of the entire world will be fixed on Wembley, as two of the best teams in Europe go toe to toe under the famous arch.

The winners of this duel will claim the biggest prize available on the continent: the European Championship trophy. The two countries going to battle in the English capital are none other than England and Italy, both hoping to either bring football home, or take it back to Rome.

This final is one of the most highly-anticipated spectacles in recent history, after we were all made to wait an extra year for the showpiece to go ahead, following the coronavirus outbreak. Now, we're on tenterhooks to see which way the pendulum swings, and who comes out on top.

While many will point to the Three Lions' home advantage as a key factor behind a potentially unforgettable night for the hosts, there are plenty of battles on the pitch that will decide which nation takes home the trophy.

So, where will the Euro 2020 final be won and lost?


1. Harry Kane vs the bouncers

Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci
Brothers in arms / Andy Rain - Pool/Getty Images

The first key battle is between Harry Kane and part-time nightclub bouncers, full-time hard-men Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. The Juventus duo have faced the very best strikers in modern history in their time, and they'll see Kane as just another forward that must be tamed.

Kane will look to float away from the pair and drag them out of position, creating space for his wide players to attack, so the duo will need to be extremely disciplined, and typically ruthless.

The England captain is his side's talisman, and if he can get the better of the pair, then it may well swing the game in the Three Lions' favour.


2. Mason Mount vs Jorginho

Jorginho, Mason Mount
Teammates at club level / Visionhaus/Getty Images

No players know each other better than club teammates, so Gareth Southgate and Roberto Mancini will be aiming to nullify the threat of Chelsea colleagues Jorginho and Mason Mount respectively.

The Blues duo will be tasked with halting each other's progress, with Mount looking to press the Italian into mistakes in possession, while Jorginho will need to be at his best to read the Englishman's movement and keep him quiet.

Both will fancy their chances at coming out on top of this particular duel, but Jorginho's impressive form suggests he could be one step ahead of Mount over the course of the final.


3. Lorenzo Insigne vs Kyle Walker

Lorenzo Insigne
Star man / Christof Stache - Pool/Getty Images

Lorenzo Insigne began Euro 2020 like a house on fire, scoring against Turkey, starring against Switzerland and smashing the winner in the 2-1 victory over Belgium.

He's faded since Leonardo Spinazzola's serious injury left the Napoli star without his wide decoy, and he now has to try a little bit harder to create that space for himself.

That will come as music to Kyle Walker's ears, who'll back himself to dominate Insigne for pace, height and strength. Just don't let him cut in onto that right foot, and you'll be fine, Kyle.


4. Raheem Sterling vs Giovanni Di Lorenzo

Raheem Sterling
England's player of the tournament / Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Raheem Sterling has been electric for England this tournament, and his devastating display against Denmark proves he's not finished just yet. He'll be champing at the bit to be unleashed against Giovanni Di Lorenzo, too, having watched the Napoli man fail to contain Belgium winger Jeremy Doku.

Doku used his unpredictability, direct running and blistering speed to frighten the life out of Di Lorenzo, and the full-back was visibly targeted as the game progressed.

Sterling knows he can terrorise even the best defenders on his day, so he'll see this match-up as one he can bend to his own will. For Di Lorenzo, it's a case of hoping and praying the Manchester City star suffers an off day.


5. Ciro Immobile vs Harry Maguire

Harry Maguire
Maguire's movement will be tested / Visionhaus/Getty Images

Now, Ciro Immobile has not enjoyed a successful Euro 2020 tournament, and that should set alarm bells ringing for every England supporter. The streaky Italian forward just hasn't got going this summer, but that could all change in the blink of an eye.

He still works incredibly hard off the ball, and loves running in behind defenders to stretch the backline. Italy may view Harry Maguire's lack of agility on the turn as a possible weak-point, and will ask Immobile to constantly force the Manchester United man to look over his shoulder and get ready to spin.

Maguire has dealt comfortably with better strikers at Euro 2020, so he should be confident in his ability to deal with Immobile. But beware the out of form striker in a European final...

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