England v Italy: Euro 2020 final is sporting occasion for Italians rather than national redemption

Italy's football fans celebrate after winning the Euro 2020 soccer semi-final match against Spain. Credit: AP

So where are the flags? Where are the teenagers wearing the blue shirts of the Azzurri? Why is no one singing some Italian national football song about the triumphs – or even the disasters – of their team? Coming from England, the streets of Rome are mystifyingly empty.

Do the Italians even care about football? Have they all forgotten there’s a match on?

Anyone would think that Sunday night is a sporting occasion rather than a moment for national redemption.

Of course there is barely a country on earth more obsessed with “Calcio” and the “Azzurri” than the Italians, and of course they are excited and nervous about Sunday’s final. But if you are an Italian fan there has been no ’50 years of hurt’.

Being in a World or European final is almost normal, almost expected.

England v Italy: What you need to know about the Euro 2020 final

When is the final happening?

The Euro 2020 final kicks off at 8pm on Sunday 11 July at Wembley Stadium.

Can I get a ticket?

While the capacity for the final, along with both semi-finals which have all been at Wembley, has been increased to more than 60,000, it seems there is little hope of securing a ticket if you do not already have one. As it stands, there are no tickets on sale on the Uefa website for the final. Most ticket sales took place in 2019, long before the matches in each stage of the knockout stage of the competition were known. If the situation changes, however, and more tickets do become available, fans would likely need to stump up hundreds – if not thousands – of pounds to secure a seat.

Where can I watch the game on TV or online?

The game will be broadcast on ITV, with its coverage starting from 6.30pm on Sunday. It will also be available to stream online on the ITV Hub (for viewers in the UK only).

What if I'm watching it at a pub?

Pubs in England will be allowed to stay open later on Sunday, in case the final goes to penalties, Downing Street has said.

The government has granted pubs special permission to open until 11.15pm - 15 minutes after normal closing time on Sunday.

They have been (losing) finalists in the Euros twice in the last two decades, the most recent of their four(!) World Cup wins was just 15 years ago, the sixth time they had reached the final of world’s top tournament.

So events like this one come around pretty regularly.

They also feel reasonably confident, having played some great football all tournament, not been beaten in 33 straight games and with a 4-0 record against England at major tournaments.

They expect to win, although they have been mightily impressed by an England side that plays in much the same way as the great Italian sides of the past, building their game on defence and being hard to score against, hard to beat.

Italy celebrate after winning the Euro 2020 soccer semifinal match against Spain. Credit: AP

Roberto Mancini and Gareth Southgate have more in common than their impeccable dress sense – both are moulding teams that combine precocious youth with solid experience, playing as a team rather than a group of individual stars, and reconnecting in a big way with their supporters. And both have become figureheads in countries that badly need picking up and cheering up.

Arguably the same could be said of any country in the tournament, as everyone has suffered through this dreadful pandemic.

But Italy and then Britain were among the worst, and both are in the grip of political and economic uncertainty. English or Italian, a win at Wembley would provide a massive boost to the national psyche.

Credit: AP

The calm since the triumph in Tuesday’s semi-final against Spain will only last until Sunday when fan-zones will admit as many as Covid restrictions allow, every bar that has a TV will be packed (outside where possible) as the nation prepares to celebrate another victory for Mancini’s men.

Like England, Italy have been lucky in playing many of their matches at home, but this time they must travel and will be accompanied by only 1,000 fans allowed a quick 12 hours in and out of the UK without quarantine.

But there are an estimated half a million Italians in England, and there will be no shortage of Italian flags and Italian support at Wembley.

Winning football tournaments isn’t a once in a lifetime event for an Italian supporter. They have won plenty, and they expect to win again.

England v Italy kicks off at 8pm on Sunday, July 11. Coverage starts on ITV from 6.30pm - it will also be available to stream live on the ITV Hub.