After two thrilling weeks of knockout football, that was riddled with shocks, including the Czech Republic stunning the Netherlands and Switzerland usurping the odds to upset World Champions France, there were to be no more twists in the tale in the semi-finals, as we got the final many expected — Italy vs England.
Given how well both sides have performed defensively in getting to Sunday’s showpiece match at Wembley Stadium, there is very little to separate the two teams in the England v Italy online betting — where Gareth Southgate’s men (13/8) are only slightly favoured ahead of the Azzurri (15/8).
With such fine margins, just one moment of magic from either side could be the difference in the match. So, with everyone wanting to be their nation’s hero on Sunday night, read on as we take a look at four players — two from each side — who could make a difference.
Harry Kane – England
After a sluggish group stage, where he surprisingly failed to find the back of the net, Harry Kane has found his feet in the knockout stages and he certainly hasn’t looked back. The Three Lions’ talisman headed home the goal that made it 2-0 against Germany in the round of 16 and he bagged twice in the quarter-final against Ukraine. With a fourth goal of the tournament in extra-time against Denmark, scoring the rebound from his initially missed penalty, Kane sent England through to the final, and there will be no one as up for the occasion as this man. He may have gone missing in the groups, but he’ll want to be front and centre on Sunday.
Lorenzo Insigne – Italy
With Ciro Immobile, Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne all poised on two goals apiece heading into the final, Italy have proved that they have a versatile front three and England will need to be very wary of them all equally. However, we’re backing Insigne to put in a top performance against Southgate’s side. The 30-year-old Napoli winger cut in from the left and curled a wonderful effort past Thibaut Courtois in Italy’s quarter-final victory over Belgium, who are ranked No.1 in the world, and he’ll be incredibly dangerous in and around the England box on Sunday night.
Mason Mount – England
This is a game that could be won in midfield, and if Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips can perform as well defensively as they have done in previous games, then Mason Mount will be allowed the attacking freedom that makes him such a dangerous opponent. After being forced to isolate due to prolonged contact with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour, who later returned a positive covid-19 test, Mount missed England’s final group game against the Czech Republic and could only make the bench against Germany. However, back in the starting fold for the Ukraine and Denmark games, Mount has caused the opposing defenders several issues and he’ll be out to do similar against Italy.
Nicolò Barella – Italy
Like Mount, if Marco Verratti and Jorginho are holding the upper hand in the midfield battle, then Nicolò Barella will be allowed to roam forward and that could be a real headache for England’s defence. There was much talk about the 24-year-old’s role in the Italy squad in the build-up to the Euros, and the Inter Milan midfielder has lived up to the hype. He bagged the Azzurri’s first goal in the 2-1 win over Belgium and assisted Manuel Locatelli’s opener in the 3-0 victory against Switzerland on matchday 2. After getting a taste for silverware with Inter Milan last season, helping them win their first Serie A title in a decade, he’ll be out for more success on Sunday.