The last one month in Europe has been full of actions as eleven nations witnessed a premium football festival to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Europe’s football showpiece, Sportivation.com.ng reports.
And so far, there’s been conflicting reactions from different quarters in Europe as to how EUROS 2020 has panned out for a couple of juggernauts in European football.
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The prepotency of narratives that erupted is that UEFA’s diplomacy to make the The Three Lions emerge winners of the competition isn’t stealth enough, due to the scrappy arrangements made by the football body to have Wembley host more matches than any other stadium in Europe.
And indeed, the dodgy penalty awarded to England in the semifinals against Denmark gave some validations to those popular opinions.
But amidst all this reactions and counter reactions, the last hurdle of the competition will still serve off on Sunday evening at the Wembley Stadium, London, in England.
However, the destination of the EUROS trophy remains unclear as both sides in the final fancies their chances of landing the trophy after 90 minutes or a probable enthralling 120 minutes given that the Azurris and The Three Lions have been the best sides in the tourney thus far, and their semifinal matches was decided after 120 minutes.
The Great Intents
England’s journey to the final of a major international competition is as a result of athleticism and resilience in the last four to years, and it has culminated into a steep progress with Gareth Southgate at the helms.
The Three Lions shortly after the disappointing 2-1 loss to Iceland at the quarterfinals of the EUROS in France in 2016, rebuilt from scratch, and appointed her former player and U-21 manager, Gareth Southgate.
And ever since, the team have captured the imagination of a success starved teeming fans of English Football.
Five years into Southgate’s spell, England have played in the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and will play in her first final of a major football competition in 55 years. Really, there’s never been a better feeling than this in the English camp since 1966.
Also, England’s unbeaten run datesback to 2020 when they lost to the Red Devils of Belgium in the UEFA Nations League.
And hitherto, The Three Lions have lost in the semifinals of five major tournaments (EURO ’68 and ’96, the 1990 and 2018 World Cups and the 2019 UEFA Nations League).
But seeing off Germany, Ukraine and Denmark (after 120 minutes) on Wednesday night to book a date in the final against the Azurris, they have the chance to put behind them an agonizing 55 years.
Ostensibly, The Three Lions have gotten a very high mountain to surmount, a fact that has been acknowledged by Gareth Southgate himself.
“We’ve got to enjoy the fact we’re in the final but there’s one more massive hurdle to conquer. Italy are a very good side, I’ve thought that the last couple of years. They are in outstanding form and have defensive warriors who have been through everything. It’s a great game to look forward to.” Southgate said.
Meanwhile, The Italians on the other hand, have surpassed whatever expectations many had for them because they weren’t seen as serious contenders by most people untill the knockout stages of this year’s EUROS.
It will be recalled that Roberto Mancini’s side was not given much respect especially by some English pundits, who claimed that the Italians fizzle out when they face a more technical and clinical side.
But here we are, Italy have knocked out Austria, Belgium and Spain, posing a 6 matches unbeaten run in EUROS 2020 and 33 overall.
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Therefore, if it’s by the pedigree of the teams both Italy and England have ousted in the competition prior to Sunday’s final, the Italians obviously, will be the favorite team to emerge champions of Europe. Sadly, it’ll not happen like that.
This is a final that would be down to the greatest of intents from both sides.
Italy’s probable dynamism so far is how they’ve approached each match they’ve played in this competition with little or no pressure. Even when they were on the brink of elimination during the shootouts against Spain, there were grins on the faces of everyone.
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And there’s no better spirit or feeling to approach a young and talented Gareth Southgate’s tutored English side than this.
Same cannot be said for The Three Lions because at some point in their EUROS 2020 campaign, there was panic and glimpses of disappointment.