After 55 years of waiting, England’s men will take to the field for the final of Euro 2020 on Sunday night.
But where is the match likely to be won or lost? How can the Three Lions take the title?
Flood the midfield
Italy boast a technically talented midfield, but Spain showed it is possible to dominate them. Luis Enrique’s side played without a recognised striker, using Dani Olmo as a false nine.
It allowed them to swamp midfield and they finished the semi-final with 70 per cent of possession. England could have similar joy if Harry Kane drops off, a role he does for Tottenham to great effect. It would also mean Kane avoids getting into an arm wrestle with Italy centre-halves Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.
Exploit space left by full-backs
Before his injury against Belgium in the quarter-finals, Leonardo Spinazzola had been a contender for player of the tournament. His lung-busting runs from left-back were a familiar theme of Italy’s play and they caused teams problems. In his absence, Emerson Palmieri has similar licence to get forward and he struck the post against Spain.
On the other side, Giovanni Di Lorenzo bombs on too, and it does make Italy vulnerable at times. Austria found that in the last-16 and players such as Raheem Sterling could get plenty of joy if they gamble on space being left for them.
Maximise the bench
There are few teams who can boast a better squad than England’s at Euro 2020. The fact Jadon Sancho has played just once and Jack Grealish is an impact sub is testament to that. Sunday marks the end of a gruelling season and tournament, and never will the use of the bench be more important.
England’s squad is stronger than Italy’s and they must maximise that advantage by bringing players on. Spain did it to good effect in the semi-final, introducing Alvaro Morata — who went on to score as Italy tired towards the end of normal time.
Isolate Insigne and Chiesa
It should come as no surprise that Italy’s goal against Spain on Tuesday involved all of their front three. Lorenzo Insigne fed Ciro Immobile and, when he was tackled, Federico Chiesa was there to curl the ball home in wonderful fashion.
The trio work well as a unit, but can struggle when isolated. The key for England will be to cut off the supply to them and also stop the wingers before they get going. Chiesa, in particular, is an exceptionally fast dribbler and England will need to get on top of the in-form Juventus man before he is able to get going.