Italy manager Roberto Mancini urged his players to entertain the public one last time at Euro 2020 and said he has no plans to alter the Azzurri’s attacking style for Sunday’s final against England at Wembley.
?? Italy are unbeaten in their last 33 matches ?
??????? England have lost only two of their last 27 matches at Wembley Stadium ?@bookingcom | #EUROfixtures | #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/BLlFxsmPEc
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 11, 2021
The Italians have been one of the most attractive teams to watch throughout the tournament, scoring 12 goals, second only to Spain, who struck 13 times before being eliminated on penalties by Mancini’s side in the semi-finals.
“We need to be absolutely focused on what our game is all about. And we need to try and implement that to the maximum potential. We know this will be our last game. So, if we want to enjoy ourselves for 90 minutes, we need to do so (on Sunday) night because of the European Championship will be over and the guys go on holiday,” he said.
The Italy midfield’s ability to dictate possession and stretch opponents with slick passing has stood out on their road to the final. Mancini underlined that he has no plans to tinker with his tactics against a physical England side, despite struggling to impose that style against Spain.
“England are a very physically capable side all across the pitch. They are stronger than us from that perspective. But you play football with the ball on the deck and we hope to do a better job on that score, we hope those will be important qualities in a match like tomorrow night.
“Occasionally the smaller guy wins, that has happened to us in the past, and we hope that happens to us this time around.”
Much of the pre-match focus in Italy has centred around how Italy’s veteran centre backs Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci will cope with the threat of a dangerous English attack led by Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.
England manager Gareth Southgate has told his team to focus on reproducing their form from throughout Euro 2020 in Sunday’s final against Italy and not get caught up in the emotion of the occasion.
England have not won a major tournament since their solitary success at the 1966 World Cup and the country is gripped with anticipation of ending that wait on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini’s side are unbeaten in their last 33 matches and are the toughest opponents England have faced in the tournament, but Southgate said there was no need to think about changing their approach for the clash at Wembley.
“It’s not necessarily about doing better. The key is to hit your normal level. Lots of teams in finals end up under-performing,” he told a news conference.
“It’s about transferring what you do on the training pitch into the match. This game now is a different tactical challenge and we have got to prepare properly for that,” he said.
Southgate said his team need to respect the opposition but focus on their own strengths.
“There are fantastic players all the way through the Italian team, they have a good tactical plan, an experienced coach and are on an amazing run,” he said.
“We have our own strengths. We’ve tried to play to ours and we need to do the same tomorrow.”
Southgate conceded he has thought about the prospect of winning the tournament but said it is vital his players put celebration plans out of their minds.
“At the back of your mind you always have to have a bit of a vision on how you would like to see the end and play that out. But the reality is you have to focus on the processes and focus on the performance and that’s what we have always done with this team,” he said.
“It’s important the players have an understanding of that. Whatever path the game takes, they are prepared and they are ready. If you start to think about the end then you’re probably heading in the wrong direction and we’ve just got to control the bits we can control.”
England captain Harry Kane agreed it was vital that England kept their cool despite the fever-pitch levels of excitement in the country.
“Of course, there’s an extra level of excitement and anticipation but that’s all part and parcel of playing in major football,” said Kane.
“A lot of us have played at the highest level in our club careers. A few of us had the opportunity in the World Cup a few years ago so it’s just about staying calm and as relaxed as you can and just look forward to being out there and enjoying the moment as much as you can,” added Kane.
The stage is set. #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/UK25HNrVG1
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 11, 2021