Euro 2020: Italy vs England - tactical breakdown of the final

A detailed analysis of how the Euro 2020 final panned out between Italy and England at the Wembley Stadium.

Italy players celebrate at the end of the Euro 2020 final match against England at the Wembley stadium in London.   -  AP

Italy completed a dominant European Championship campaign with a penalty shootout win over England at the Wembley Stadium. 

England took a step forward from the 2018 semifinal World Cup defeat but ultimately fell short yet again in a predictable fashion in the final.

The script was all too similar to the Croatia defeat – an early lead, sit back, invite pressure, cede control in midfield, and get punished.

READ: EURO 2020 Final: Italy crowned European champion after penalty shootout win over England

Gareth Southgate set England in a 3-4-3 formation, bringing in Kieran Trippier at right wing-back in place of Bukayo Saka. Italy lined up in a 4-3-3 as it had done throughout the tournament.

For the opening goal in the second minute of the game, England capitalised on Italy’s shape being pulled apart after a unsuccessful corner. Mason Mount and Luke Shaw drew in the Italians to the left touchline and successfully found an outlet in Harry Kane, who was unmarked inside his own half. The England captain turned goal-side to pick out Trippier’s run on the right.

With Italy defenders backing off Trippier, the Atletico Madrid player picked out a deep cross into the far post which was met by the other wingback Shaw. He scored and England was a goal up after 116 seconds of play.

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Luke Shaw of England celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Final between Italy and England at Wembley Stadium.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

It was otherwise a hard-fought contest with contrasting styles on display. England executed its game plan for the best part of the first 30 minutes with players pressing with intensity all around the pitch and making it difficult for Italy to settle. Kane, who often drops deep to play line-breaking passes or set off counterattacks, linked up with Trippier, providing an outlet on the right.

As shown below in the screengrab (from Sony Liv, in the 10th minute, Kane drifted to the left touchline to receive a throw in before wriggling away from markers to find a pass to Kyle Walker.

 

Walker then found Trippier's run behind Itay's defence but his cross to Sterling in front of goal was crucially cut out by Giorgio Chiellini.

Again in the 12th minute, as shown in the screengrab, Kane's run was initially followed by Leonardo Bonucci, who then retreated to his original position and asked Federico Chiesa to mark him. Chiesa was slow to react which allowed Kane to receive the pass from Harry Maguire without pressure.

Kane shimmed his way past Chiesa before setting off Trippier again on the right. Trippier has multiple options but his final ball to Sterling is blocked.

 

Italy’s three-man midfield of Marco Verratti, Jorginho and Nicolo Barella shaded the midfield battle against England’s duo of Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice during these early exchanges. From the 31st minute until half-time, Italy had 76% possession but was not able to find the final pass with England closing out the spaces well. Italy’s first shot on target came from outside the box in added time.

The heatmap below shows England's early forays down the channels in the first half. Italy then went on to finish the half stronger by dominating the midfield area.

Heatmap of Italy vs England at the end of the first half. Credit: whoscored.com

 

READ: EURO 2020 Final in Pictures: Italy defeats England on penalties to lift trophy

The second period started in the same vein with England pinned into its own half by the Italian pressure both on and off the ball. While England conceded a sloppy set-piece goal, the opportunity came because of Italy’s dominance.

From the beginning of the second half until Bonucci’s equaliser in the 67th minute, Italy dominated 73% possession and had seven shots.

Roberto Mancini reacted early in the second half by taking off striker Ciro Immobile, who had an ineffective game, for Dominico Berardi. The off-the-ball movements made by the three inside forwards — Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Berardi — made it difficult for England’s defenders. The fullbacks and central midfielders created repetitive overloads on either flank.

As seen below, in the 62nd minute, Jordan Pickford punts the ball upfield only for the ball to find an Italian player and is recycled into England’s half again.

Verratti finds Chiesa in between the line with a vertical pass. He then dribbles past three England defenders inside their box and forces a diving save out of Pickford.

 

READ: Euro 2020: FA condemns racist abuse of players following England's final loss

In between the 65th and 66th minute, Italy strung together a sequence of 24 successive passes, moving the ball purposefully from one end to another, before Chiesa’s cross was headed behind for a corner, which led to the equaliser.

Then again, as seen below in the 76th minute, Chiesa drifted from the left to take up a central space to open up a passing option for Verratti. As Chiesa turns goalside, Insigne makes a run to offer a close-passing option to create a passing lane for Berardi's run behind the defensive line.

Maguire, however, read the pass to stick out the leg and intercept the danger.

 

Chiesa’s injury and subsequent replacement in the 86th minute effectively blunted Italy’s attack and the final lost its verve thereon.

The substitution gave England an opportunity to grab the initiative, but Southgate took a cautious approach. With plenty of attacking options at his disposal, Jack Grealish was introduced only for the last 20 minutes of extra-time, and Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho came on for penalty duties.

READ: Euro 2020: Italy erupts in celebration after triumph

England had an ineffective attacking approach on the evening, mustering just two shots on goal. Raheem Sterling, who had been England’s best player in the tournament, was snuffed out by Bonucci. England’s No. 9 Kane ended 120 minutes of football with zero touches inside Italy’s box.

England took the lead again in the shootout but squandered its opportunity yet again as Gianluigi Donnarumma stood tall in goal.

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