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    Tactical Analysis: Italy vs. England

    Excerpts of this Tactical Analysis: England vs. Italy article from July 13, 2021 by Santi Bauza (@santi_bauza) are courtesy of Breaking the Lines

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    As the glitz and glamour of Wembley Stadium drew out at 8 pm, all of the nation started on as England kicked off their first final in 55 years, and a first European one at that. No matter the result, the nation was proud of their team. As for the Italians, the Azzurri’s contrast in form from over 3-4 years ago from not qualifying for the World Cup, to reaching the final of the Euros was also an astounding feat. The match was set up as historical, between 2 sides of equal admiration. 

    The action started off early, with bells of ‘It’s Coming Home’ bellowing down from the Wembley stands, a cross from Kieran Trippier, found itself laid perfectly on a plate for Luke Shaw who blasted it past Gianluigi Donnarumma in the 2nd minute. Continuing on from the blistering start, England had a good first half, with a stubborn and pragmatic approach aiding the English, tidy at the back and well made up top. The result looked good at HT. 

    However, as the ascendency for England looked good in the first half, the second half was a totally different story. The Italians came out rampant for the second half. Light changes to the system from Roberto Mancini, with the replacement of Ciro Immobile and Domenico Berardi and Nicolò Barella for Bryan Cristante, the Italians looked dangerous going forward and had the majority of the ball.

    As the match continued, the Italians continued marching on, and in the 67’ minute, their efforts came to the fore, a corner taken by Emerson found itself on the head of Marco Verratti who had a header saved by Jordan Pickford, to the feet of Leonardo Bonucci who scored a tap in. The game found itself level, and the Wembley crowd was silenced. As the game continued, the Italians controlled the match, and the English looked void of ideas, but the dream was still alive.

    As the 90’ drew out, extra time loomed over the horizon and the Wembley crowd still dreamt on. As the English looked sharper going forward, they could not break down the sturdy Italian defence which has proved formidable all tournament. Southgate’s decision to bring on Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho 2 minutes before the end of extra time in preparation for penalties summed up the English attitudes that this match was to be won via a penalty shoot-out.

    It started well for the English, as Harry Kane and Harry Maguire both scored the first two whereas Andrea Belotti missed Italy’s second. It was in England’s hands to score more, but the 2 subs Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, and 19-year-old wonderkid Bukayo Saka missed. The Italians coolly finished 2 more penalties via Federico Bernardeschi and Leonardo Bonucci which ended English hopes of their first Euro Championships. 

    Man of the Match: Leonardo Bonucci

    Whilst the match was played out in pragmatic fashion, low scoring and with much respect between both sides, the work of Leonardo Bonucci has to be commended. Bonucci’s lion-hearted spirit and flexible capabilities saw him positionally to be in the centre of the pitch mostly, further up from his defensive position.

    Whether grabbing a vital equalizer, or breaking the lines with his pinpoint passes, or keeping Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane under wraps, Leonardo Bonucci reigned supreme at Wembley Stadium. Courtesy of

    For the rest of the article by Santi Bauza (@santi_bauza) and Arnov Paul Choudhury (@ArnovPaul01) please go to Breaking the lines

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