Judgement day for Southgate’s heroes


Kane and Sterling can fire England to glory

As the nation comes to a standstill at 8pm tonight, Gareth Southgate will send his troops out to do battle one more time this summer in their quest to end one of sport’s longest ever title droughts. We all know how many years of hurt it’s been, but this is a great chance for England to end their summer on a high.

Bobby Moore remains the only England captain to be handed a major trophy but Harry Kane will surely have allowed himself to dream of the moment where he has been handed the Henri Delaunay trophy at a jubilant Wembley this evening.

It’s been 20,071 days since England won the 1966 World Cup. The Three Lions are the 13th nation to reach the final of the European Championships.

Kane is finishing the tournament on fire with four goals in his last three games with a goal every 49 minutes. The 27-year-old was 9/2 to open the scoring at Wembley, but that has been boosted to 11/2.

Kane has fired three shots on target in each of his last two matches against Ukraine and Denmark and he is 9/2 to be on target with three or more efforts against the Italians.

Kane can be backed at 14.5 to score two goals and 70.069/1 to become the eighth player to score a hat-trick at the European Championships and the first since David Villa who scored three times in a 4-1 win over Russia in 2008. Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick the last time England won a major trophy. Could history repeat itself?

When Kane wasn’t scoring in the group stage, Raheem Sterling was. Sterling will feel he too should be entering the final on four goals, one short of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick of the Czech Republic. Sterling would have scored had Simon Kjaer not scored an unfortunate own goal in the semi-final.

Raheem Sterling has scored 15 goals and had seven assists in his last 22 matches for England. Harry Kane has 19 goals and nine assists in his last 27 internationals.

Sterling scored both England’s goals in the group stage and he is 3/1 to be an anytime scorer against the Italians and 7/1 to be the first goalscorer. If you fancy Sterling to set up one of his team-mates, he is priced at 9/2 to do so. Sterling is 7/1 to be named UEFA’s star of the match while Kane is 5/1 favourite.

England don’t normally have two scorers in such great form at a major tournament which bodes well for Southgate’s side. Kane and Sterling each scored in the 2-0 win over Germany in the Round of 16 and a repeat double pays out 8.07/1 on the sportsbook.

If football is coming home, Kane and Sterling could be driving it to its long overdue destination point. England are 8/11 to win their first ever European Championship final either in normal time, extra-time or after a penalty shootout and 31/10 to win within 90 minutes.

Find out Glenn Hoddle, Gordon Strachan and Mark Hughes’ thoughts on the final here.

Italian defence means business at Wembley

What a joy it’s been to see Italy back at the top table of European football. Failure is not an option for any Italian side so missing out on the 2018 World Cup was unacceptable. Roberto Mancini has come in and gone back to basics by building a team around a solid defence.

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At the heart of their defence are two warriors in Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, the beaming tower from Pisa. With a combined age of 70 and almost 220 caps to their name, the pair have been in great form throughout the tournament. A clean sheet would boost each player’s chance of being named man of the match. Chiellini is 13/1 to be named UEFA’s star of the match while Bonucci is 19/1 to be UEFA’s star of the match.

The Azzurri have conceded just one goal from open play within 90 minutes this summer. However, they have gone from keeping 11 straight clean sheets to giving up one goal in each of their three knockout games and that will offer encouragement to England.

Italy have faced the second fewest shots on target per game with 2.3 at Euro 2020. England have allowed just 2.2 shots on target.

This would be a good time for Italy to get back to keeping a clean sheet which can be backed at 2.8615/8 on the exchange. Before the knockout stage of Euro 2020, Italy extended their run of wins to nil to 11 and the Azzurri are a 4.67/2 option to win the final to nil within 90 minutes.

England will have seen how Italy protected Chiellini and Bonucci and combated Spain’s high-tempo passing game by dropping their forwards and midfielders back to shut down passing alleys which could have been exploited by the Spaniards who resisted the temptation to launch high balls into the box which plays into the hands of Italy.

Italy are 11/5 to win their fourth European Championship final within normal time and 1/1 to win the trophy either within 90 minutes, extra-time or after a penalty shootout.

Read David Farrar’s assessment of Italy here.

Defences to dictate the outcome of this final

There is no doubt the best two teams at Euro 2020 are left to contest the final at Wembley tonight. England’s defence is the best with just one goal conceded while Italy are next on that list with three goals scored against them. With that in mind, this final might follow the pattern of previous European Championship finals in that goals will be at a premium.

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With so much at stake, the team who scores the first goal could be forgiven for switching to a defensive mindset, shut up shop and hold on to what they have.

Italy have an incredible record of scoring the first goal in each of their last 15 matches and they are 6/5 to open the scoring at Wembley while Gareth Southgate’s side, who have scored first in 10 of their last 12 internationals, are 1/1 to score first. A goalless 90 minutes is available at 5/1.

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If both defences perform as well as they have already in this tournament, then under 2.5 goals might be worth considering at 1/2. For better value, why not double up with the winner. Italy to win and under 2.5 goals is available at 4/1 while England to win with two goals or fewer is priced at 7.2.

Italy need two goals to end the tournament as the highest scoring team. Spain with 13 goals from their six matches, are one goal ahead of the Azzurri. Italy can be backed at 1.991/1 to score the two goals needed to finish as the most prolific team at the tournament.

If counting corners is your thing, then here are a few stats you should be aware of. In the 50 games played so far, there have been a total of 453 corners which equates to 9.06 per game. Nine corners or less is available on the exchange at 1.564/7, 10 to 12 corners can be backed at 3.55/2 while 13 corners or more is 7.26/1. Italy average 4.6 corners a game while England average exactly four in their six matches.

Of the 14 knockout games played to get to this stage, nine have seen both teams to score which can be backed at 2.265/4. Extra-time has been required seven times which is one game short of the record and England to win in extra-time is available at 12.5 while the Italians are 14.5. Whatever happens, let’s hope the final is not decided by a mistake or a missed penalty, but rather a moment of magic.

Read Paul Higham’s preview and tip for Italy v England here.