Italy Stand in the Way as England Eye Euros History

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England and Italy face off in Sunday's huge European Championship final at Wembley.

Kane and Sterling

Euro 2020 was delayed a year but it has proven to be worth the wait with a thrilling tournament coming down to Sunday’s final Wembley showdown between England and Italy.

Neither country has pedigree in the European Championship – England are playing in their first-ever final and Italy were last kings of the continent in 1968 – but now both expect.

For the Three Lions home advantage has proven to be a major fillip with Wembley turning into a fortress, while Italy are unbeaten in 33 matches under the shrewd guidance of Roberto Mancini.

Titanic Tussle Could go the Distance

England are slight favourites with the vast majority of the support inside the stadium set to be backing Gareth Southgate’s team, who have stepped up in quality after a stodgy group start to see off Germany, Ukraine and Denmark.

Italy have definitely had the tougher path to the final, beating Belgium in the quarter-finals and then Spain on penalties in a classic tie on Tuesday.

Given both nations have already been involved in extra-time battles, the 90-minute draw at 41/20 could be the best bet. 

A whopping 40 per cent of all previous European Championship knockout ties were draws in 90 minutes and that figure has risen to 50 per cent at this tournament with seven extra-time battles in 14 ties. 

Taking the 5/1 about a 1-1 score after 90 minutes is also of interest given that was the outcome in both semi-finals in normal time.

Maguire massive value to use his head

Harry Maguire, the cult hero of the England team with supporters who sing about his heading ability, is one to consider for the first goal at 33/1.

Southgate is known to focus much of his gameplan on set-pieces and Maguire is usually the target of Mason Mount’s expert delivery.

Maguire had three attempts against Denmark and scored against Ukraine in the quarter-final so the Manchester United man could once again go close even if the Azzurri defence are likely to pay attention to him from corners and free-kicks.

If you are looking for an Italian then why not absolute rank 80/1 outsider Emerson Palmieri, who likes to get forward from left-back and is encouraged to attack due to the tactics of Mancini.

Emerson has come into the team to replace the injured Leonardo Spinazzola, who attacked at will before a cruel Achilles problem ended his tournament against Belgium.

Given Emerson hit the bar against Spain, the massive prices, including 33/1 he scores, could attract interest. In just under 200 minutes of action he has had three shots and one on target which means the 11/2 on offer that he manages an attempt on target is a price worth snapping up.

Jorginho could go in the book

There are two players to note in terms of being carded – Jorginho at 33/10 and Giovanni Di Lorenzo at 7/2.

Nobody has made more tackles at the Euros than Di Lorenzo, who only needs to get one badly wrong to enter the book, and Jorginho is third in the ‘pressures’ stats with, coincidently, Kalvin Phillips first. 

If Jorginho keeps on hunting the ball he is likely to attract the interest of Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers and is more attractively priced than 8/5 favourite Phillips.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Mark is the Racing Post’s football betting expert and he is also a regular pundit on talkSPORT and the Guardian’s Football Weekly.

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