50 games down, one to go. Yes, it’s finally here, the Euro 2020 final!
And what a final we have in store on Sunday: Italy versus England at Wembley Stadium. Arguably the two most impressive nations throughout the tournament will go head-to-head to lift the European Championship trophy.
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The Azzurri were outplayed for the first time during the tournament against Spain on Tuesday, though, and were quite fortunate to come through on penalties in the end after a 1-1 draw.
England, meanwhile, came from behind to beat Denmark 2-1 after extra-time. While there was an element of fortune about their victory, too, via a soft penalty, no one could argue that the Three Lions were not the better side on the day.
England are 13/8 favourites to win the match in 90 minutes, with the draw and Italy win both 2/1.
Personally I think there’s a bit of value about the draw, and may have a small wager on 1-1 at 11/2 (bet365).
Both semi-final’s finished with this score-line after 90 minutes. While a 0-0 wouldn’t shock me, I do think both sides have enough about them to grab a goal, especially England given that Italy have failed to keep a clean sheet in the knockout stages.
In terms of a Bet Builder, though, I will back Under 5 Goals for Both Teams Combined as a starting point, with all 12 of these teams’ games combined falling short of this mark.
I expect a pretty cagey affair in all honesty, and this plays into the second part of my part: Under 7 Corners for England & Under 7 Corners for Italy.
This bet would have landed in five of the two sides’ six knockout matches, with Belgium’s tally of nine against Italy (when chasing a two-goal deficit, which I don’t personally envisage occurring either way here) the only exception.
I can’t see either pummelling crosses into the box until late in the game either, with a patient passing style generally their preference.
Lastly, I’ll back both teams to pick up a card each given the stakes. Referee Bjorn Kuipers isn’t particularly great for card backers in all honesty, but he has averaged 3.33 cards per game at Euro 2020, with only Denmark against Czech Republic escaping a booking.
Italy and England’s opponents have all received at least one card at Euro 2020 with the exception of Ukraine in the one-sided 4-0 defeat, while Italy have received two in all three knockout stages, with England receiving four combined against Germany and Denmark.
In all honesty there’s not a huge amount catching my eye on this game, with the odds inevitably quite poor given the amount of interest bookmakers will receive on a game of this magnitude.
I do like the look of Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne both to have 2+ shots at 8/5 (bet365).
Chiesa has landed this in each of his last four appearances, scoring two brilliant goals, while Insigne landed it in his previous four appearances before the Azzurri struggled to retain possession against Spain.
I would have liked to have included Raheem Sterling for a tasty treble, but unfortunately bet365 have moved his lines up to 3+ shots and 2+ shots on target, which is perfectly possible but not worth backing in my eyes.
Instead I’ll back his direct opponent Giovanni Di Lorenzo to be carded at 19/5 (Bet Victor). The Napoli right-back received 11 cards in Serie A last season and has committed nine fouls in three starts in the knockout stages, including four against Belgium when clearly struggling to deal with a similar opponent in the shape of Jeremy Doku.
He was booked against Austria and is certainly due another after escaping one in the last two games.
If you’re looking for a player card double, I’d have to throw in Kalvin Phillips at a shade over 14/1 (Betfair).
Phillips will likely be tasked with sticking very close to Marco Verratti, who is very clever in using his brilliant skill and technique to draw fouls.
The Leeds man was booked 10 times in the Premier League and received one for a fairly nasty tackle on Toni Kroos against Germany, another midfielder who Southgate undoubtedly instructed him to pay close attention to.
For a treble you could throw in Verratti himself for 40/1. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him react badly to a tackle, or indeed commit a cynical one himself, but remember: cards have come at a premium during this tournament and Kuipers is not generally an official to stray too far away from that strategy.
Lastly, given that I am predicting a draw, I like Betfair’s boost of England to win on penalties at 11/1.
No side has won two penalty shoot-outs at this tournament, so with Italy potentially using up their win against Spain and facing a raucous away crowd at Wembley, it could be England’s time to win a truly historic penalty shoot-out.
Under 5 Goals, Under 7 Corners for England & Italy, 1+ card each team @ 21/20 (bet365)
Federico Chiesa & Lorenzo Insigne 2+ shots each @ 8/5 (bet365)
Giovanni Di Lorenzo to be carded @ 19/5 (Bet Victor)
1-1 Draw @ 11/2 (bet365)
England to win on penalties @ 11/1 (Betfair)