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Not since that famous extra-time success over West Germany in 1966 have the Three Lions even reached another showpiece, with painful near-misses at the World Cups of 1990 and 2018 as well as familiar penalty heartache at Euro 96.
But Gareth Southgate has now led England into an exciting new era with a young squad bursting with talent and depth and largely free of the burdens and heavy expectations of the past, with captain Harry Kane’s extra-time goal - the rebound from his own saved penalty - defeating Denmark in the semis after Simon Kjaer’s own goal had cancelled out Mikkel Damsgaard’s stunning free-kick.
Before that, there was the quarter-final thrashing of Ukraine in Rome, the historic last-16 defeat of Germany at Wembley and efficient victories over Croatia and the Czech Republic that secured top spot in Group D.
Now in their first-ever European Championship final, England battle a formidable Italy team that have plenty of momentum of their own after a hugely impressive campaign to this point.
Roberto Mancini’s men held their nerve in a semi-final penalty shootout battle with Spain, while previously recovering from Leonardo Spinazzola’s injury to eliminate the world’s no1-ranked team Belgium in the quarter-finals. Only in the extra-time last-16 win over Austria did they look even the briefest bit rattled after brushing aside Turkey, Switzerland and Wales to top Group A.
After missing out on qualification for the World Cup in Russia three years ago, the Azzurri have been eager to make up for lost time, putting together a truly formidable run of 33 matches unbeaten. Their last defeat came all the way back in September 2018.
This will be four-time world champions Italy’s 10th major tournament final overall and fourth at the European Championship, where they were runners-up in both 2012 and 2000. Their only success to date came as hosts back in 1968.
Date, kick-off time and venue
England vs Italy in the Euro 2020 Final is scheduled for an 8pm BST kick-off on Sunday, July 11, 2021.
The match will take place at Wembley Stadium in London, with over 60,000 fans expected to be in attendance.
Where to watch England vs Italy
TV channel: The match will be televised live on both BBC One and ITV for free.
Coverage on BBC One begins at 6.20pm, with ITV getting under way from 6.30pm.
Live stream: UK viewers will also be able to watch the final online via the BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub.
England vs Italy team news
Phil Foden is an injury doubt after he missed England’s final training session on Saturday.
In what is a concern for Gareth Southgate, the Manchester City midfielder did not take part in training on Saturday as a precaution over what England described as “a minor knock”.
After missing England’s final training session before the final, in which the squad did tactical preparation, Foden is unlikely to start.
It is likely to leave Bukayo Saka and Jadon Sancho battling it out for the final spot in the England team on the right wing.
Southgate stuck with a four-man defence against the Danes after previously switching to a three to counter the impacts of the German wing-backs.
The England boss will face a similar decision over his formation against Italy, while Jack Grealish’s substitution in extra time against Denmark having only come on in the second half of the initial 90 looked to be a tactical decision rather than being caused by any injury.
Italy are still without Spinazzola of course after the Roma full-back was stretchered off against Belgium and subsequently underwent surgery on a ruptured Achilles tendon. He will be out for several months.
Chelsea’s Emerson Palmieri deputised well for Spinazzola against Spain and will be expected to do so again tonight.
England XI (3-4-3): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire; Shaw, Phillips, Rice, Trippier; Mount, Kane, Sterling
Italy XI (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
England vs Italy prediction
After so much tournament heartache, it still feels strange to even contemplate the prospect of England in a major final - but here we are!
Both of these teams have oceans of momentum behind them and picking a winner is extremely difficult.
It will surely be a tense, gripping and tight affair between two excellent, confident teams, potentially decided by just the one goal.
Tonight’s contest really could go either way and maybe it’s heart ruling head just a little bit, but I’m backing England to get that extra push they need from another raucous home crowd.
England to win 1-0, finally ending 55 years of hurt, quite possibly after more extra time!
Head to head (h2h) history and results
England have won just one of the last eight meetings between these two nations.
That was back in August 2012, when substitute Jermain Defoe scored a brilliant late goal in a 2-1 friendly win in Switzerland after Daniele De Rossi had earlier cancelled out Phil Jagielka’s header.
Two months earlier, Italy had won the first meeting in a decade 4-2 on penalties in Kiev following a goalless draw in the quarter-finals at Euro 2012, with Ashley Young and Ashley Cole both failing to net in the shootout.
The Azzurri also came out on top 2-1 in the 2014 World Cup Group D opener in the Amazonian heat of Manaus, Brazil, with Mario Balotelli notching the winning goal after Daniel Sturridge had quickly replied to Claudio Marchisio’s effort.
The last two matches - both friendlies - have ended in 1-1 draws, with Graziano Pelle scoring after Andros Townsend’s superb strike in Turin in March 2015.
VAR came to Italy’s rescue three years later, with Lorenzo Insigne successful from the spot after James Tarkowski had fouled Federico Chiesa. Jamie Vardy had given the hosts a first-half lead at Wembley.
England wins: 8
Italy wins: 11
Betting odds and tips
England to win: 17/10
ltaly to win: 15/8
Odds via 888sport (subject to change). Click here to find out more.