Euro 2020: England through to home final
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Marco Verratti claims there is no chance Italy will be intimidated by playing the Euro 2020 final against England at Wembley. Various England players and even Gareth Southgate described the atmosphere at the semi-final as the best they have experienced since the famous stadium was rebuilt in 2007.
However, the Italians are too long in the tooth to allow that to get to them when they take their turn in the lions’ den on Sunday.
PSG midfielder Verratti, a veteran of seven Ligue 1 titles and a Champions League final, said: “It’s a dream to win this European Championship and the supporters will factor in somehow.
“Both teams want to win, so we will face a very tough team who will be at home and know the stadium well.
“But we are all professionals and know how it is to play in fan-packed stadiums. It will drive us on as well.
“England are very physical with players who are very skilled. They deserved to get to the final and it will be a difficult match.”
One area of the concern expressed after England’s semi-final victory over Denmark was over the officiating.
Harry Kane, at the second attempt, took advantage of a very soft decision to award Raheem Sterling an extra-time penalty.
But Verratti dismissed suggestions that a vocal Wembley crowd could sway Sunday’s referee.
“As far as the referee is concerned, he will be up to the task,” the 28-year-old said. “They are professional figures, from Champions League games, so it’s of no concern.
“Perhaps it was a generous penalty but it’s part of the picture in football.”
The Italian’s confidence is understandable given the Azzurri are on a run on 33 games without defeat.
The spell started in the first few games of Roberto Mancini’s reign, and Verratti credits the former Manchester City manager with putting the “fun” back into Italian football after they missed out completely on the 2018 World Cup finals.
“He’s a very special manager for us,” Verratti said. “Boosted confidence when we lost it because of negative results of the past.
“He was the perfect man for the job. We haven’t lost in 33 matches and these are important statistics.
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“It tells you he’s doing a great job. People say managers are not sometimes important but that proves he is for us.
“He restarted our enthusiasm, triggered it. We’ve had fun.”
And fun, Verratti feels, is going to the name of the game on Sunday.
“These games can put you under a lot of pressure,” he said. “I think the team that will play more lightheartedly with a free mind will gain the upper hand.”
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