England and Italy count down to Euro 2020 final – .

England and Italy count down to Euro 2020 final – .

London (AFP)

England and Italy collectively hold their breath as the clock counts down to Sunday’s Euro 2020 final showdown which will be watched by around 65,000 fans at Wembley and millions more at the television.

Anticipation is high in England, as the hosts feel the time has come to end a 55-year wait to add a second major trophy to their 1966 World Cup.

Wembley was the venue for that final and will be again on Sunday as Gareth Southgate’s England look to finish the job after beating Denmark 2-1 in overtime in front of 64,950 fans in Wednesday’s semi-final.

England started the tournament as one of the many trophy contenders, but enjoyed most of their home games. The final will be his sixth game at Wembley of seven.

“It’s huge, with the final at Wembley too it’s even more special, something we could only dream of at the start of the tournament,” defender John Stones said on Friday.

“We’ve come this far and we’ve grown throughout the tournament and haven’t put too much pressure on ourselves. We have overcome tough tests over the past few years. “

– Previous meetings –

England never beat Italy in a major tournament, although encounters between nations were rare.

# photo1 Italy triumphed on penalties in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals in Ukraine and won 2-1 in their 2014 World Cup group stage meeting, although both sides ended up being eliminated in the first round.

The two teams have since transformed.

The Azzurri have lit up Euro 2020 since they beat Turkey 3-0 in the opener a month ago.

They are on a national record of 33 games unbeaten under the guidance of coach Roberto Mancini, who has spent time in England both as a player and as a manager.

It will be their third game of the tournament at Wembley, where they beat Austria 2-1 in extra time in the round of 16 and Spain on penalties in a brilliant semi-final on Tuesday.

“Playing at home doesn’t scare us,” veteran Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci said on Friday.

“We are looking forward to going on the pitch even though most of the fans present will be English. We want to do something historic, have a great performance and then we’ll see how it ends. “

Italy had the support of around 11,000 UK-based fans in the semi-final and their supporters will once again be in attendance for the final.

# photo2 Reports in Italy have indicated that 6,500 tickets have already been sold to fans in Britain and that number will be bolstered by another 1,000 who will travel to the country specifically for the game.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella will also be present.

– Long wait for Azzurri too –

The Azzurri are also looking to end a long wait to win the European Championship. The quadruple World Cup winners have only been continental champions once, despite it being just a four-team event in 1968.

They have since reached two finals, losing to France in 2000 and Spain in 2012. Sunday’s game will be their 10th major tournament final.

Mancini was praised for the work he has done since taking office in 2018 following Italy’s failure to qualify for that year’s World Cup.

“Beyond the players, I would say that it all comes from Mancini who knows how to make the right choices,” Italian legend Dino Zoff told AFP.

“For me, it’s no surprise to see Italy in the final. I was convinced they would do well. “

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was part of England’s semi-finals with Prince William, chairman of the English Football Association.

Johnson, who initially declined to condemn fans for booing the England squad as they knelt down earlier in the tournament, did not rule out the prospect of an ’emergency’ holiday if England triumphed on Sunday.


Meanwhile, UEFA on Friday ordered Hungary to play its next three home matches behind closed doors and fined the Hungarian soccer federation 100,000 euros ($ 118,000) for “the discriminatory behavior of his supporters ”at the Euro.

The governing body of European football had opened an investigation into homophobic banners and alleged monkey noises during Hungary’s group stage matches in Budapest and Munich.


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