On Sunday night, Italy defeated England 3-2 in a penalty shootout to win Euro 2020. The game was a tense and close affair, as we predicted it would be in our preview finishing 1-1 after normal and extra time. After Luke Shaw opened the scoring with a superbly taken volley on two minutes, Italy slowly grew into the game and controlled possession until they equalised through a second-half Leonardo Bonucci goal.
The pace of the game understandably slowed in the second period and it was no surprise that the game was settled by spot-kicks. England youngster Bukayo Saka saw the decisive spot-kick saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma. The save ensured that Italy won the European Championship for just the second time.
Roberto Mancini has done a fantastic job
Throughout much of his coaching career, Roberto Mancini has been tactical astute. The job he has done as Italy head coach has been truly remarkable. The former Manchester City boss has taken the Azzurri from failing to qualify for World 2018 to European champions. Meanwhile also recording a record-breaking unbeaten run of 34 games in the process.
The way he set his team up at Euro 2020 was not just the stereotypical Italian team. They played with dynamism and flair at times, with the obvious solid central defensive base of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini keeping things tight at the back.
Mancini’s Italy have been exciting during the tournament. It would be difficult to argue that they have been the best team from the start of the competition.
Gareth Southgate got it wrong
England head coach Gareth Southgate has been superb throughout his tenure as Three Lions boss. He has led the team with humility, leadership and respect. He had got most of his tactical changes and switches right up until the final.
After taking the lead, England looked relatively comfortable and calm on the ball. However, as the game wore on, they allowed their opponents to dominate the ball by a lack of effective pressing and the team dropped deeper and deeper towards Jordan Pickford’s goal. The equaliser was almost inevitable, as at that point of the second half England seemed to have given up on attacking and took a what we have we hold approach.
That is always a dangerous game to play, especially against such stellar opposition. England needed to offer some sort of attacking threat, but instead, they allowed Italy space and time to carve out an equalising goal.
Gareth Southgate was reactionary to the goal, rather than making a change when they were winning and pushed back, he waited until Italy scored. By then it was too late, as the Azzurri had the momentum.
Although Italy needed penalty kicks to win the final, Mancini seemed to have better game management. Maybe that is something that the England coach can work on. It was clear to all that was watching what was happening in that second half.
Both will be back at World Cup 2022
On the evidence of Euro 2020, both of these teams will enjoy big a World Cup 2022. You cannot even rule out Italy’s veteran’s making the tournament. England have a talented group of young players that will only get better. If the head coach gets it right in Qatar, then they will be considered to be one of the favourites to win the trophy.
However, for now, nobody is fast-forwarding to World Cup and Italy are celebrating becoming European champions for only the second time. Although England put in a great effort, the best team at Euro 2020 claimed the trophy.
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Did Italy deserve to win Euro 2020?