Euro 2020, Italy vs England: Sunil Chhetri predicts a 'cagey final', explains why Italy may have an advantage | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Euro 2020, Italy vs England: Sunil Chhetri predicts a 'cagey final', explains why Italy may have an advantage

ByKaran Prashant Saxena, New Delhi
Jul 10, 2021 10:06 AM IST

India football team captain Sunil Chhetri believes the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy could be a 'cagey' affair as both the teams would be focusing on defending and scoring on counter-attacks.

India football team captain Sunil Chhetri believes the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy could be a 'cagey' affair as both the teams would be focusing on defending and scoring on counter-attacks. Chhetri also said that if the game goes forward in this fashion, it may give Italy a distinct advantage because of the number of goal-scorers Roberto Mancini's team have had in the tournament.

India football captain Sunil Chhetri feels Italy may have a slight edge over England in the final of the Euro 2020. (Getty Images)
India football captain Sunil Chhetri feels Italy may have a slight edge over England in the final of the Euro 2020. (Getty Images)

Since the start of the tournament, Italy have netted 11 goals in the tournament with Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Manuel Locatelli, Matteo Pessina, Federico Chiesa, and Nicolo Barella being the scorers

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But for England, eight out of their 10 goals have been scored by Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, and Chhetri feels that any team having multiple goal-scorers will have the options to pass on the ball to in a tight Euro 2020 final.

Also Read | Euro 2020 final: Italy midfielder Verratti weighs in on England penalty debate

"Italy have a better set-up because the more goal-scorers, the better it is for you. Harry Kane has scored four goals in the last three games. But it depended heavily on Raheem Sterling to open up. If you take out that cross from Harry Kane to Raheem Sterling, where he dropped down to play on that pass from Saka (against Denmark), every good attacking move happens more or less because of Sterling," Chhetri said in a reply to a question posed by the Hindustan Times during a media interaction organised by Sony Sports Network.

Chhetri further said that England are not the same team without Sterling and explained the impact the Manchester City star has had on the tournament.

"England are not the same team without Sterling. They depend heavily on him going forward. He opens up the defence. He is someone who can go behind the defence to ask for the long ball. He is someone who can take the ball and start dribbling, which I think is one of his best powers. He always has an eye for the ball - whether Saka, Sancho has the ball. He always comes across his full-backs," Chhetri said.

Also Read | A look back at how England fared in major football tournaments

"If you talk as neutrals, Italy are in a better place because the more goal-scorers you have, the better it is for you. Because you are always on a hunt for a player who can get a goal," he added.

England have started with two defensive midfielders in most games - Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice - and while the strategy from manager Gareth Southgate had raised a few eyebrows in the beginning, it has worked for the Three Lions so far. Chhetri believes that if England play with the same set-up, it would get difficult for both the teams to score a goal in the final, as Italy too are known for their defensive set-up.

The India striker added that this mentality helped Portugal win Euros in 2016, and France in winning the 2018 World Cup, so both the teams would go employ similar tactics on Sunday.

"You are never going to get too many chances in the final. A final is not going to be an open game. It never happens like that. Especially with a defensively strong Italy. And with the mentality with which England have played in this tournament. They have gone in with Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips. That tells you the mentality, that we are not going to concede, and we will score," Chettri said.

"Initially, questions were raised why are England going with two defensive midfielders. But that's the way Gareth Southgate sets it up, and I think it's very sensible. Portugal did in the last Euros. In the 2018 World Cup, France did it. It's not a bad way to approach the game. Because of two teams involved in the final, you can see a very cagy, and a lot of focus on defending and not conceding. And probably, because of that Italy may have an edge because they have multiple goal-scorers," he further explained.

But what if the match ends in a 0-0 draw? The final will be decided by a penalty shoot-out. While Italy had to engage in a gruelling shootout against Spain in the semi-finals, England have had a relatively easier road to the final, and have not been involved in a shootout. Would this give a mental edge in the Italian camp knowing they have played and won a shootout in their road to the final? Chhetri does not think so.

The India star footballer said that teams will prepare to finish the game off in 90 minutes, and while goalkeepers and penalty takers will do their own practice, and watch videos to prepare, the mentality in both the camps would be to win the match in regulation time.

"You don't think about final and think about penalties. Individually, if you ask Donnarumma, he might be thinking about the shootouts preparing himself. But as a team, you don't think about these things before a final. You always want to win in the match in the 90 minutes. Penalties are always like what if the game goes there, so we should be there. So, all the players who would be taking the penalties would prepare themselves, but as a team, you don't think about it too much," Chhetri said.

"Donnarumma and Pickford have done great in the tournament. I would be picking Donnarumma over Pickford, he has been the better goalkeeper. There were a few mistakes that Pickford made whether it was with his passing or his rash clearances. But as a goal stopper, he has been outstanding," he added.

Chhetri further said that no matter how much prepared you are for penalty shoot-outs, during a game, the pressure of the situation deletes everything. Hence, the teams focus on the first 90 minutes more than the shootouts.

"If it goes to penalties, more than the skill you have, the factor decisive is how calm you can be.

"In training, when you take penalties, you are chilled. But when you are in the game, and the whole world is watching, then it's a different ball game. You see players make some bizarre mistake in penalties not because the technique is not good. It's because the pressure gets to you," he said.

"Most of them run for 120 minutes and then to take a penalty is not easy. So, as a team, you don't think about preparing for penalties before a match mentally so much. You do your own bit. I am sure both the goalkeepers will watch a lot of videos of all the probably penalty takers, but that's about it.

"You work for a match because you have to work hard for 90 minutes. Penalties are never the first thought for any team at any stage of the competition. Goalkeepers prepare as much as they can, penalty takers keep themselves calm. But during the match, all this preparation goes out the window because that's how penalties are, there is so much pressure."

(Watch England vs Italy at UEFA EURO 2020 - Final, Live on Sony Ten 2 channel on 12th July at 12:30 AM)

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Karan Prashant Saxena is a reporter/writer/editor, who specialises in sports. His primary areas of interest include football, Olympics sports, and pro-wrestling. When not working, Karan spends his time reading, travelling, and pondering on the question - What If?

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