Euro 2020 Final: Italy vs. England X-Factors
It took an extra year, but the Euro 2020 final is here, as England will host Italy to claim the crown of European champions. Defense will likely be the top story, but there are three other x-factors that could determine who lifts the trophy on Sunday.
Sun, July 11 2021, 7:00 PM
The battle between Jorginho and Rice
Italy’s midfield has been outstanding in this tournament, with Jorginho making a case for player of the tournament with his outstanding passing numbers. However, Spain showed that pressure can cause issues for them, and England might look to limit the amount of time they have on the ball. Allowing Jorginho and Marco Verratti plenty of time to analyze the pitch could prove costly for the Three Lions.
Jorginho vs midfielders at #EURO2020— Uber Chelsea FC ⭐️⭐️ (@UberCheIseaFC) July 7, 2021
Most minutes played (585)
Most distance covered (72.3km)
Most balls recovered (40)
Most interceptions (22)
2nd most passes completed (399)
5th highest passing accuracy (92.7%)
Sublime. Absolutely sublime. pic.twitter.com/ZM3ZraSzdX
Enter Declan Rice, who has been outstanding as England’s holding midfielder in this tournament. It will be his primary responsibility to prevent Jorginho from orchestrating the attack, especially when England lose possession. If he is able to protect his back line and limit the ability for Italy to transition from defense to attack, it will limit Italy’s threat from the wings. If he is unable to make Jorginho uncomfortable, England may have to focus much more on defense than they would like.
Chiesa will put pressure on England’s defense
Federico Chiesa has been a revelation for Italy in this tournament, as he became part of the first father-son duo to ever score in the European Championships with his massive goal against Austria in the Round of 16. His world-class effort against Spain to open the scoring was another example of his terrific dribbling ability and his penchant for pressuring defenders when he gets them isolated.
He will likely start on the right side, matching up against Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling and helping to slow down England’s main method of attack. More importantly, he will give Shaw something to think about, which may prevent him from aggressively overlapping as we have seen him do of late. If Church can get on the ball against a somewhat un-agile Harry Maguire, it could cause serious problems for the England defense.
Will Southgate get the tactics right again?
While many English fans have questioned his player selections, Gareth Southgate has time and again shown an ability to take away the opposition’s primary weapon. Against Denmark, he recalled Bukayo Saka to the lineup, and Saka and Kyle Walker combined to limit Joakim Maehle to his fewest passes into the final third of the tournament. They also prevented him from getting a single touch in the penalty area, a feat achieved by no other team in the tournament.
Now, Southgate must figure out how to stop multiple players for Italy, as they have adapted throughout the tournament to defeat different defensive styles. As mentioned earlier, Jorginho is the metronome in the center of Italy’s midfield, but the English defense will also need to deal with the direct attacking ability of both Lorenzo Insigne on their right flank, and Chiesa on their left. If Southgate is able to find a way to limit the impact of at least one, if not multiple, threats without stifling his own attack, it would go a long way towards ending England’s 55-year title drought.