It is to be remembered that Wembley was the venue when England won the 1966 World Cup by beating Germany 4-2 in the decider. England’s 2-1 extra-time win over Denmark on Wednesday (Thursday in IST) ended a run of semi-final defeats, which came at the World Cups in 1990 and 2018, and at the 1996 European Championship.
England head coach Gareth Southgate has developed a young side since taking charge, helping the players grow into major tournaments. England, which has played all but one of its matches on home soil, began the tournament on a solid note, but was far from its best. During the group stage, forward Raheem Sterling, skipper Harry Kane and midfielder Mason Mount produced moments of magic in attack when it mattered.
In the Round-of-16 2-0 victory over Germany, Southgate was pragmatic in his approach, showing that his team is capable of switching between the usual four and three central defenders at the back. In the 4-0 quarter-final mauling of Ukraine, England showed its attacking prowess and made a statement. It faced a tough test while meeting Denmark in the semi-finals, but was the better side over the course of the knockout match. With five clean sheets under its belt, the English defence, led by Manchester United’s Harry Maguire’s, has been impeccable. The only time goalkeeper Jordan Pickford picked the ball out from his net was when Mikkel Damsgaard converted with a brilliant free-kick last time around.
Southgate would be wary of the threat that Italy possesses at both ends of the field. Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile and Federico Chiesa are likely to make up the front-three, while captain Giorgio Chiellini and his partner Leonardo Bonucci will be a wall at the back.
Italy has looked good so far, with head coach Roberto Mancini swapping its traditionally defensive game for a more expansive style of football. However, the team found it hard to deal with Spain’s high pressing game in the last-four stage. Austria also proved to be a tough nut to crack for Italy, but it has been a smooth sail apart from it.
With quality players and coaches on both sides, one can expect a mouth-watering title decider at England’s national football arena.