Euro 2020: what to watch as England faces Italy

Italy, seeking its first major championship since the 2006 World Cup, and England, which needs to go back 40 years further for its defining moment, will meet Sunday in the final of the Euro 2020 soccer championship.

>>Andrew DasThe New York Times
Published : 11 July 2021, 04:04 PM
Updated : 11 July 2021, 04:09 PM

The game, at London’s Wembley Stadium, kicks off at 3 pm Eastern. Here’s what you need to know.

How can I watch?

The Euro 2020 final is being broadcast in the United States by ESPN and Univision, and via the ESPN+ and TUDN streaming platforms.

To find out where you can watch in other countries, search this list on UEFA’s website.

Has either team ever won the Euros?

Italy has, but only once, in 1968. It is much prouder of the World Cup section of its trophy case, which includes titles in 1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006. Italy last played in the European Championship final in 2012, a game it would rather forget.

England? It has never reached the European final, or any other major final for that matter, since it lifted the World Cup in 1966.

How did the teams get here?

Expect England to be quite comfortable at Wembley, its national stadium and the site of five of its six games in the Euros. That home-field advantage has been criticized by those who think UEFA, European soccer’s governing body and the tournament’s organizer, had its thumb on the scale for an important tournament partner.

The problem with that theory is that it applied to the three other semifinalists — Italy, Denmark and Spain — who also played their first three games on home soil. Did that lack of travel play a role in their success? Probably. But did they have to win the games on the field to make it this far? Absolutely.

England, in fact, did that quite comfortably, beating Croatia (1-0), tying Scotland (0-0) and then the Czech Republic (1-0) in the group stage. A 2-0 win over Germany in the round of 16 exorcised some demons, and Ukraine, thumped 4-0, was a mere speed bump in the quarterfinals. Five games, and a place in the semifinals, and the English had yet to allow a goal.

That left Denmark, the neutrals’ favorite and the only team to score against England in the tournament, as the last hurdle to the final. But the Danes — dragging badly in extra time after a side trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, in the quarterfinals — were swept aside by a late Harry Kane penalty.

Italy, like England, opened with three group-stage games at home and breezed through them: Turkey (3-0), Switzerland (3-0) and Wales (1-0) proved to be little trouble.

Italy needed extra time to beat Austria in the round of 16, but avoided it while stunning Belgium, the world’s top-ranked team and the tournament favourite, in the quarterfinals in Munich.

In the semifinals Tuesday, Spain traded punches with the Italians through regulation and two extra-time periods before falling in a penalty-kick shootout.

Tell me something to say so I can sound smart.

“Can you believe that England hadn’t allowed a goal in the entire tournament until the semifinals, a streak of more than 720 minutes without conceding for goalkeeper Jordan Pickford? That broke a record that had stood since the days of Gordon Banks. Gordon Banks!”

“Italy is unbeaten in their last 33 matches in all competitions (27-0-6), its longest such streak ever.”

Are the starting lineups set?

The starting lineups won’t be official until an hour before kickoff, but don’t expect the managers, England’s Gareth Southgate and Italy’s Roberto Mancini, to mess with what’s worked so far.

Here are some projected teams if the coaches, as expected, leave well enough alone:

ENGLAND: Jordan Pickford; Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw; Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips; Bukayo Saka, Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling; Harry Kane.

ITALY: Gianluigi Donnarumma; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Emerson Palmieri; Nicolò Barella, Jorginho, Marco Verratti; Federico Chiesa, Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne.

Wasn’t there another big final this weekend?

Yes. That was the Copa América, the South American championship. Argentina beat Brazil, 1-0, in the final Saturday night in Rio de Janeiro, delivering the first senior title of Lionel Messi’s glittering career.

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Editor-in-Chief and Publisher