It’s time for England to seize the moment and write themselves into the history books by beating Italy in tonight’s Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium.
As I predicted last week, Gareth Southgate’s boys have reached the showcase decider against an Italian team that were one of my pre-tournament favourites.
I’m looking forward to the game, it’s really intriguing.
I just tip my hat to the way Southgate has handled things. He always looks so cool and composed on the touchline and his decision-making has been top drawer.
Southgate has used his squad well, he has shown his managerial qualities. In terms of his man-management and tactics, they have been spot on.
He was brave enough to introduce Jack Grealish against Denmark and then take him off again for technical reasons.
In extra-time against the Danes, England really showed their quality by keeping the ball for almost three minutes — the Danes just couldn’t get near them.
They passed the ball so well. They have grown in stature and have the momentum behind them. That’s why I think they can win it.
I know Southgate started with Bukayo Saka against the Danes, but I’ve a feeling he’ll go with Jadon Sancho against the Italians. He is very direct, and he can go past people — he has the pace to expose Roberto Mancini’s side.
Then just look at England’s bench — it’s unbelievable. It’s as good a squad as I’ve seen in a long time.
Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have so much experience at the back, but the thing they lack is pace. There is no doubt Raheem Sterling also has the pace to cause them problems. That’s his strength, running at defenders. And, if there is one thing defenders hate, it is a striker with pace running at them.
But the man who really tilts it in England’s favour is Harry Kane. He is probably the best No.9 target man in the world at the minute.
He holds the ball up well, he’s good in the air, he brings people into play, and he knows where the net is. Even though he scores goals, his assist ratio is top notch. I’ve no doubt if he was playing for Bayern Munich, he would score 40 or 50 goals a season.
The middle of the park is my concern. I think Declan Rice and the boy Kalvin Phillips have been brilliant in there. They’ll now come up against Jorginho, who is different class. The Italians also have Marco Verratti, so I think that’s where the game could be won and lost.
To be honest, I don’t think the game will be concluded in the 90 minutes — it will go to extra-time and even penalties. There is nothing between the teams. They have been the two most impressive sides since the start of the tournament, and they have got better. Italy may have had the better start, but England have improved and really come of age.
To be honest, I thought Italy were fortunate to win in the Semi-Final against Spain, albeit on a penalty shoot-out.
Technically, I knew Spain would be better. But as I’ve mentioned before, their big problem is at the top end of the pitch; they just can’t finish.
On chances, they should have won the game in the 90 minutes. It was crazy. I still don’t know how Mikel Oyarzabal failed to score with a header in front of an open goal. He threw his head at it and missed it completely. He only scored 11 goals last season for his club Real Sociedad.
Dani Olmo is full of energy and would run all day, he created all sorts of problems for the Italians. They then brought on Gerard Moreno and Alvaro Morata, who took his first chance to equalise and finished it well. But look at the chances they missed after that — unbelievable.
The Spaniards have a good team, but it would be different if they had a natural finisher in the form of Harry Kane.
If Kane had been in their team, they would have won the game against Italy.