Italy beat England in a penalty shootout in the final of Euro 2020. Their effort was unmatched all tournament. A resilient comeback and penalty shootout was the culminating effort for a nation that had looked the best team from their first match of the tournament. Italy wins Euro 2020, and this comes just under three years since they suffered their biggest defeat in 2018.
Italy wins Euro 2020
The Euro 2020 final had fireworks even before the match as some England fans were rowdy and tried to storm Wembley stadium. It was clear that the English public was up for this match, and their team showed that same fire early in the match.
England score two minutes in
Just two minutes into the match, English outside backs Trippier and Shaw combined for a goal. A peach of a ball by Trippier was hammered home by Shaw. His touch was perfect and was quite the moment for his first international goal for England. The rest of the first half looked less polished.
England sat back and would counter Italy looking for a second goal. The Italians weren’t able to figure out how to break down the back five of the English. The game went to halftime 1-0 in favor of England. The second half was a different story.
The Italians equalize
In the second half, Italy looked shot out of a cannon. They were on the front foot, thanks to the effort of Chiesa. The winger wreaked havoc on the English left side. His effort made Italy believe they could get back into the match, and they did just that in the 67th minute.
A corner was played in by Insigne and fell to Verratti who used his head to get by Pickford. The English goalkeeper saved the effort but let a rebound go that fell to Bonucci who fired home the effort. It was 1-1, and England had no answers. They didn’t sub on players that could make a difference and the match went to extra time.
Extra time was dull; Pens were not
The two 15 minute extra time periods were full of tired players trying to get something together, but nothing would happen. England continued to sit back and not sub on difference-makers they had on their bench until it was too late. Italy looked tired as they weathered the storm of extra time pushing for a goal that wouldn’t come. The match went to penalties which provided all of the fireworks.
Italy went first and slotted home their chance. England followed suit. Then things went crazy. Italy missed their second pen, giving the momentum over to England, which put away their second. Italy took their third and made it to even the score. Then England missed their third. It was all tied up again. Italy birdied their fourth kick to take a 3-2 lead, but England missed their fourth. Italy’s fifth attempt was saved by Pickford, giving England a lifeline. All they had to do was make their fifth to move the penalties to sudden death. Italian keeper Donnarumma stepped up and stoned England’s chance to win the title.
Italy was the winner of Euro 2020 after not qualifying for the World Cup in 2018. It’s truly an extraordinary turnaround.
An astonishingly fast turnaround
Italy was one of the biggest country’s that failed to qualify for Russia 2018. Their omission was astounding. A team as talented as Italy failed to find a way through World Cup qualifying. Fast forward two and a half years and they are champions of Europe and moving towards qualifying for Qatar 2022. How did this turnaround happen?
The main answer lies in their gaffer Roberto Mancini. The longtime manager of big European clubs like Manchester City and Inter Milan came in to help lift up his national team, and he did just that.
Under his watch, Italy remembered the joys of football. They created a distinctly Italian style of fast-paced possession-based style. He instilled life back into the team that he represented as a player in the 80s and 90s. His stewardship is a blueprint for other nations looking to bounce back from embarrassment.
The Netherlands and the United States are both looking to do just that as they also failed to qualify for the last men’s World Cup. Could this blueprint and astonishing story be the catalyst for other nations rising up to becoming the best in their region after defeat? It will definitely be on some federations’ minds now and moving forward.
England’s tactics falter, but they have the talent to succeed
Speaking of a federation that needs to figure some things out, we need to talk about England and its tactics. England and specifically their manager Gareth Southgate were completely inept in making in-game adjustments.
This England team had a lot of firepower and stellar defense but failed to play to its full potential because of poor tactical choices. When you have talented players in attack who can’t crack your starting XI, it would make sense to utilize them late in games as a super-sub role. That didn’t always happen for England, and it made them come off as rigid. Then there’s what happened in the final minutes of the Euro 2020 final.
Southgate subbed on two of his better penalty kick takers, Rashford and Sancho, ahead of penalties in extra time, but it wasn’t until the very last minute. These boys were brought on and didn’t even have a chance to take a touch of the ball before they had to take a spot-kick in their home stadium. All of the pressure in the world was on them, and they came up short. Had they come on with 10 minutes left they’d have time to get acclimated to the game, and possibly calm their nerves a bit before taking a penalty kick that could win them a trophy.
England will be a talented team for several years with all of their young talents all over the pitch. What they’ll need to do moving forward is make sure they have the right person with the right tack tics for the team leading them. If Southgate is able to learn from this and bring it to Qatar 2022, then this team has a shot at making another deep tournament run. If not, then they’ll falter, possibly in another huge moment.
Thanks for following along with our Euro 2020 coverage
This wraps up Philly Sports Network’s coverage for this Euros, as Italy wins Euro 2020 I hope you had a fun time following along as we analyzed and previewed the teams and matches. It was truly special to write about this fascinating tournament. We’ll continue to keep an eye on the international game with updates on other international soccer competitions, like the ongoing Gold Cup and World Cup Qualifying. Stay tuned for those and come back soon to read about the beautiful game!
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