The Punch

Home or Rome? Italy, England clash in Wembly for Europe’s top title

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tHe curtain closes on a mesmerizin­g summer of euro 2020 football this sunday (today), as supporters arrive at Wembley stadium en masse to witness italy and england do battle for the continenta­l championsh­ip trophy.

roberto Mancini’s side booked their place in the showpiece event after coming out tops in a nerve-wracking penalty shootout against spain, while england needed 120 minutes of their own to send denmark packing 2-1 in the semi-finals.

it has been 53 years since italy got their hands on the trophy, while the three Lions are playing in their first major tournament final for 55 years as Gareth southgate endeavours to write his own chapter of history.

nine years on from leading City to their first-ever Premier League title, Mancini is now set to become the second english top-flight winning manager to lead a european country out for a major tournament final. The first? 1966 England luminary Alf ramsey.

Amid reports speculatin­g that a full arena of spectators could be welcomed to Wembley to watch england play in a major tournament final for the first time since the turn of the millennium, southgate could supposedly become sir Gareth if his endeavours are successful.

italy’s jaw-dropping unbeaten run may make the headlines, but england can at least boast 11 wins and one draw from their last 12 games in all competitio­ns, and 15 of the three Lions’ last 17 encounters at Wembley stadium have seen them march to victory.

Only a handful of the 1966 heroes are still around to watch the current england crop try to emulate their success, but southgate’s men whether sunday ends in joy or despair - will hope to have inspired the next generation of worldbeate­rs to pick up that football, lace up their boots and follow in the footsteps of Kane and co.

As two heavyweigh­t european forces prepare to collide in front of fans, former players and royalty, nations across the continent will undoubtedl­y smile back on a tournament like none other following a year like none other, and one can only hope that restrictio­ns, quarantine­s and behind-closed-doors encounters will be distant memories by Qatar 2022.

 ??  ?? •Southgate •Kane •Immobile •Mancini
•Southgate •Kane •Immobile •Mancini

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