The England national football team will lock horns with Italy in a mouth-watering UEFA 2020 final, which will be played at the Wembley Stadium in London in the early hours of Monday, July 12.
Under the tutelage of head coach Gareth Southgate, The Three Lions will aim to end their 55-year wait for a piece of major international silverware. They last won the 1966 FIFA World Cup and are yet to lift a UEFA European Championship title.
On the other hand, Roberto Mancini’s Italy national football team has been on a 33-match unbeaten streak and the Azzurri will look to claim their second UEFA European Championship after clinching their maiden title at home in 1968.
Ahead of the final showdown, we picked our combined XI (3-4-3) from both the world-class squads:
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma (Italy)
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and England custodian Jordan Pickford have had stellar Euro 2020 campaigns for their respective sides. While England shot-stopper Pickford has been confirmed as the Euro 2020 Golden Glove winner for keeping five clean sheets and conceding just one goal in six matches so far, Italy No. 1 Donnarumma saved Spain’s Alvaro Morata’s penalty in the shootout to help the Italians secure a place in the final.
The 22-year-old Italian keeper has conceded three goals in six matches and has kept three clean sheets in the ongoing tournament. While it was difficult to choose between the two, we have gone with Donnarumma as our preferred choice for his commanding presence between the sticks.
Centre-backs: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy), Giorgio Chiellini (Italy) and Harry Maguire (England)
Legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson famously stated, “attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.” The duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been the stalwarts of the Italian defence for more than a decade now. The two veteran centre-backs have once again been rock solid at the ongoing European Championship, registering three clean sheets for the Azzurri.
Slotting in a three-man defence will be England centre-back, Harry Maguire. After missing the opening few games due to fitness concerns at Euro 2020, the 28-year-old Manchester United captain has been instrumental at the heart of England’s defence since returning to the playing XI in the group stage encounter against Czech Republic.
Right wingback: Kyle Walker (England)
Kyle Walker pips his Italian counterpart Giovanni Di Lorenzo for the right-back position for our combined XI. The 31-year-old Manchester City defender has been one of the standout players for The Three Lions at the ongoing European Championship. With his searing pace, Walker has been providing width in attack and stability to the England backline with his impressive recovery speed. In this system, Walker will have more freedom to attack and link up with the forward line.
Left wingback: Luke Shaw (England)
Italy’s Leonardo Spinazzola would have been an automatic choice for the left-back position if not for the horrific injury that he suffered during their 2-1 win over Belgium in the UEFA Euro 2020 quarter-final. The Roma full-back was one of the most influential players for the Italian side in the tournament. In Spinazzola’s absence, England full-back Luke Shaw has been picked in the left-back position. The Manchester United defender has been outstanding with his marauding runs forward and has provided three assists in the tournament.
Midfielders: Marco Verratti (Italy), Jorginho (Italy)
For the midfield role, we have picked the Italian duo of Marco Verratti and Jorginho ahead of the likes of Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice and Manuel Locatelli. While PSG’s Verratti has once again shown why he is touted as one of the best deep-lying midfielders in the world, Chelsea’s Jorginho has become the heartbeat of the Italian national side. Both Verratti and Jorginho have been vital cogs in the Azzurri midfield, controlling the tempo of matches.
Forwards: Raheem Sterling (England), Harry Kane (England) and Lorenzo Insigne (Italy)
Raheem Sterling has arguably been England's player of the tournament at Euro 2020. The Manchester City winger has scored three goals and assisted once in the ongoing edition of the European Championship. In our 3-4-3 formation, the 26-year-old will play at the right-wing position ahead of Italy’s Federico Chiesa and Bukayo Saka of England.
On the other hand, picking Harry Kane as the striker in our combined XI is a no-brainer. The Tottenham Hotspur forward has already bagged four goals in the tournament and is just one behind Euro 2020 top-scorers Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick, who have scored five apiece. For the left-wing position, we have picked Italy’s Lorenzo Insigne ahead of England’s Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho. The Napoli winger has been impressive for Italy, scoring a wonder goal against Belgium in the quarter-final.
Manager: Roberto Mancini (Italy)
For our combined XI, we have picked Italy’s Roberto Mancini as our head coach over his England counterpart Gareth Southgate. The former Manchester City manager has transformed the Italian national side after the Azzurri had failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup for the first time in 60 years. Since then in three years, Italy have produced some delightful football and are currently on a 33-match unbeaten streak, which is a national record.
Featured photo: ALBERTO LINGRIA / Andy Rain /Matt Dunham/Laurence GRIFFITHS, Frank AUGSTEIN //POOL / AFP