Gareth Southgate: Two best teams in the tournament have made the final

England needed an extra-time goal to reach the Euro 2020 final, whereas Italy edged past Spain in a penalty shootout to enter the showpiece clash.

Gareth Southgate in a file photo. (Image: Twitter)

England manager Gareth Southgate believes that the two best teams at the Euro 2020 have reached the final. England needed an extra-time goal to reach the final, whereas Italy edged past Spain in a penalty shootout to enter the showpiece clash. Both teams have been solid in their backline and have made it extremely difficult for opponents to stretch their defensive line. England have conceded only one goal in this tournament and that was also from a direct free-kick in the semifinal against Denmark. The Three Lions have reached its first major final since 1966.

On the other hand, the revitalised Italians, under former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini, are now Europe’s most in-form team. They are approaching the European Championship final on a 33-game unbeaten streak. “It’s an exceptional team and I think, without doubt, the two best teams in the tournament have made the final, and now it’s whoever performs well on the day,” Southgate told Sky in Italy.

“Once you get to a final, you have to win, and that’s going to be very difficult, we know that, but that has to be our ambition, and that has to be our belief. I’ve been watching them closely for two years, because I know the job Roberto Mancini was doing. They’ve got a very clear way of playing, great spirit, great energy in the way they play, tactically like all Italian teams very good, but also the style of play is probably different to the Italian teams from when I was younger – very modern.”

Despite being “excited” about being in the final, Southgate knows that they are playing against a team that has “exceptionally experienced players” and a “fantastic coach”. “We’re excited about being able to prepare for a European Championship final,” he added. “We are very conscious that for our country, this has been a fantastic journey but if you are in finals, you have to win, and we are playing against the team that have probably the best record in European football over the last three years, with some exceptionally experienced players and a fantastic coach.”

Gareth Southgate on playing at Wembley

England’s famous World Cup win in 1966 came at Wembley and this Sunday’s final, like the one 55 years ago, will be played at the same venue. It has been the venue for five of England’s six games en route to the Euro 2020 final. “For us, the stadium in the last two matches has created incredible energy and I know on Sunday there will be a lot more Italian fans as well, so it will be a brilliant atmosphere for everybody,” said Southgate.

“But for us, it’s not been pressure, it’s been a positive thing. Everybody before the tournament talked about more pressure, more expectation because we had so many matches potentially in England, but for us, that was a privilege to be able to play at Wembley.

“It was good for us to go to Rome, we loved going to Rome. It was important at that moment to go away from England, prepare somewhere different, and play in a magnificent stadium that inspired us. But then to be able to come back to Wembley was a real positive for us.”




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