England take on Italy in the Euro 2020 final this evening in what will be their first appearance at a men’s major tournament final in over half a century.
Destiny has arrived for Gareth Southgate’s side, three years on from their incredible run to the semi-finals of the World Cup, a chance at immortality presents itself. Standing in their way is a formidable opponent in the shape of Italy, who are unbeaten in their last 33 matches across all competitions (with 27 wins and six draws), while scoring 86 goals and conceding 10 during.
The Three Lions are confident though, having edged past Germany in the round of 16 and then eased past Ukraine in Rome, with the historic Wembley semi-final win in extra-time over Denmark thanks to Harry Kane’s rebound from a missed penalty enough to secure their place in this evening’s showpiece game.
The energy and emotion of the national team’s stadium will prove a major weapon, according to Southgate, who hopes to harness that to get the better of Roberto Mancini’s Azzurri: “To be able to hear Wembley like it was tonight and to know how that will have been around the country is, yes, it’s an honour. Because we’re a special country, we are historically an incredible country and I know I couldn’t be prouder to be an Englishman. I can’t be prouder to have the opportunity to lead my country so to bring happiness at this time where it’s been so difficult for this period is a very special feeling.”
We’ll have all the latest preview pieces, quotes and build-up ahead of the conclusion of Euro 2020 below:
Foden a doubt for Euro 2020 final
Gareth Southgate again has the luxury of a virtually clean slate in terms of health and suspensions as he prepares to select his side for the final. His main decision may come over a possible change of shape with Italy presenting his side with their stiffest test of the tournament so far by some margin. The only fitness concern is Phil Foden, with the Manchester City midfielder missing training on Saturday and is considered a doubt to play. “He’s got a fairly minor foot injury,” Southgate revealed ahead of the game.
Despite conceding a first goal of the tournament against the Danes, Jordan Pickford will start in goal and could do so in front of an unchanged defence with Kyle Walker and Luke Shaw so far excelling in the full-back positions outside of first-choice central defensive pairing John Stones and Harry Maguire. Should Southgate opt to return to the three-man defence that performed so well against Germany, Kieran Trippier could return on the right side with Walker sliding inside to centre-back.
Two rivals with more in common than you think
Two different footballing cultures share a lot in common but only one can triumph at Wembley.
Here’s Mark Critchley on the two different countries that will be on show tonight and the similarities they share.
Leeds wish Phillips well
Leeds published a compilation of playing highlights and tributes from family and team-mates for their midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who has formed a successful partnership with Declan Rice across England’s run to the final.
An accompanying tweet read: “Good luck Kalvin Phillips! Bring it home England!”
Smith calls for calm
England Women record goalscorer Kelly Smith called for calm among the men’s side as they prepared to take on Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday evening.
“It’s a massive occasion, a massive day for the boys,” Smith, who played in England’s defeat to Germany in the Women’s Euro 2009 final, told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“They just need to be as calm as possible as it’s a long day for them today with the late kick-off, so they just need to handle the nerves.
“It’s a long drawn-out day, but the players will have had all the information from Gareth (Southgate) and it is just about managing the day now.”
Neville tells England not to be ‘nervous’
Former England right-back Gary Neville stresses it is “not a day to be nervous”.
Discussing how the players would be feeling on Sunday morning compared to his own experiences with the national team, Neville told Sky Sports News: “If you think about 1996 and Gareth’s abuse he received after missing that penalty, (David) Beckham in ‘98 and then my brother (Phil Neville) in 2000, it was a very pressurised situation with England because you weren’t performing at a level and there was a different way in which they approached it from a media point as well.
“These lads haven’t got that cynicism, they haven’t got that pain and dismay embedded within themselves, so I suspect that now they must be feeling on top of the world this morning, excited.
“I know there are a lot of fans nervous up and down the country but this isn’t a day to be nervous. I don’t feel nervous at all. It’s a moment and a day that this country’s been waiting for such a long time. I think the pressure moment was actually against Scotland or against Germany in the second round.
“We’ve gone past those things with this team, so this team have proven they can jump hurdles that none have done before in the last 55 years, and I suspect that they’ll be feeling really comfortable.”
Queen’s message for England ahead of final
In her written message, the Queen recalled presenting the Jules Rimet trophy to Bobby Moore almost six decades ago.
She said: “Fifty-five years ago I was fortunate to present the World Cup to Bobby Moore and saw what it meant to the players, management and support staff to reach and win the final of a major international football tournament.
“I want to send my congratulations and that of my family to you all on reaching the final of the European Championships, and send my good wishes for tomorrow with the hope that history will record not only your success but also the spirit, commitment and pride with which you have conducted yourselves.”
What it was like to watch the 1966 World Cup final
The privileged few inside Wembley tonight for the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy are the envy of the nation. For most supporters getting a seat for the biggest international match that the stadium has hosted for 55 years is an impossible dream.
Back in 1966, it seemed preposterously easy to get a ticket for the World Cup final. You could pick one up at the local shop along with your morning newspapers.
“My mother Ethel used to drive me to school,” said Albert Boniface, who attended all the England games in that glorious mid-sixties summer. “We passed a newsagent on Western Avenue with a sign in the window that said ‘World Cup tickets for sale.’
Police warns fans over trip to London for Euro 2020 final
Police have urged England fans not to gather in large numbers for the Euro 2020 final, warning London remains in the grip of a public health crisis.
Large crowds of supporters are set to amass in the capital on Sunday as the Three Lions aim to win their first European championships against Italy at Wembley.
The Metropolitan Police have prepared for the match by visiting venues to ensure social distancing is maintained, and the force said a “great” number of officers will be in place in different locations.
The Met also warned those without tickets not to visit London as they may end up missing the match.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said: “The Met has a significantly enhanced policing operation in place and will adapt as necessary to increased numbers of fans enjoying the matches.
“We will continue to deploy a great many officers and specialist units to prevent crime and disorder and respond to any incidents right across London.
“We want people to be able to enjoy the Euros 2020 final safely and securely, behave responsibly and consider the safety and welfare of others.
“London still remains in a public health crisis. There are Government guidelines in place and we ask people to follow these and remain socially distanced.
“We will enforce legislation proportionately and as appropriate and engage with crowds.
“But I urge people not to gather in large numbers. If you don’t have a ticket to the matches, fan zone or officially booked into a pub, bar or club, my message is clear: please do not come to London – you could end up missing the game.”
William wishes England well for final
The Duke of Cambridge could not hide his excitement and said the whole country is behind England’s footballers as they go for glory in the Euro 2020 final.
William, who is president of the Football Association, said he “can’t really believe this is happening” ahead of the crunch match against Italy on Sunday night.
Urging the players to “bring it home”, he said they had already brought out the “very best of England”.
William, who will be at Wembley for the match, said: “Gareth (Southgate), Harry (Kane), and to every member of the England team on and off the pitch, I just want to wish you the very best of luck for tonight.
“What a team performance it’s been. Every member of the squad has played their part, and all the back room team as well have been truly essential.
“I can’t really believe this is happening. So exciting and I just wish you the very best of luck.
“You bring out the very best of England and we are all behind you. The whole country is behind you. So, bring it home.”
The video will be posted to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s official social media channels later on Sunday morning.
Southgate emphasises importance of inclusivity
He said: “For an island our size we’ve got an incredible influence on the world and we’ve got to keep that in a positive way. There are historic things that we should be proud of.
“At heart I go back to the values that my parents gave me and treating people as you would want to be treated. Just respectful, really.
“We have so many things here that we should be proud of that we probably underestimate that.”
He added that “there are positive things that we could help to change or influence in society”.
He said: “The longer I’ve been in the role the more I’ve understood the importance for our fans of that connection with the team.
“They felt part of it and that inclusivity is really important to us because I think that’s what modern England is.
“We know it hasn’t always been the case and there’s historic reasons for that, but that level of tolerance and inclusion is what we have to be about moving forward.”