By Jon Essien
Wembley will play host to a thrilling fixture on Sunday as England and Italy lock horns in the final of this year’s UEFA European Championship competition.
The Three Lions will be aiming to win a first major tournament in 55 years on home soil, when they square off against Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri – who possess an impressive record of 33-game unbeaten streak.
Recall that Italy booked their place in the showpiece event after they battle tooth and nail to overcome Spain via penalties, while England needed 120 minutes of their own to send Denmark packing 2-1 in the semi-finals.
However, it has been 53 years since Italy got their hands on the Euro trophy and Mancini will be willing to write his own chapter of history against first-time finalists England.
Unlike, their opponents, the Azzurri have reached the final four times in 10 outings, including this year’s tournament. They have lost in two finals, against France in 2000 and then, Spain in 2012.
While there’s an unproven conspiracy theory that England are being handed favorable decisions on the field, and that the tournament was deliberately organized in a way to let the Three Lions win, there’s no denying the fact that Gareth Southgate and his men are deserving of their spot in the finals.
The Three Lions entered the Euros as one of the dark horses of the competition, having faced stern criticism from their past outings which all ended in hurts. However, Southgate has now assembled a team of England players made up of a young squad bursting with talent and depth.
At this year’s edition, England conceded just once and have won their entire fixture, save the goalless encounter in the group stage with Scotland.
Head to head
Italy lead the head-to-head record between the two sides with 11 victories to England’s eight, while there have also been eight draws throughout history.
Possible starting lineup
England: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Rice, Phillips; Saka, Mount, Sterling; Kane
Italy: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Jorginho, Barella, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne