Gareth Southgate has praised Roberto Mancini’s work in making Italy virtually unrecognizable from the squad he faced during his playing days, while also warning of the threat Mancini’s modernised system poses.
Given Italy’s strength, Southgate stated that his team must perform at their peak in order to have a chance of winning.
The England manager believes the Three Lions and the Azzurri are the two best teams in Euro 2020 and deserving opponents in Sunday’s final.
What exactly has been said?
“They’ve got a very clear way of playing, great spirit, great energy in the way they play, tactically very good like all Italian teams, but the style of play is probably different to Italian teams when I was younger – very modern,” Southgate told Sky Italy.
“I’ve been keeping a close eye on them for two years because I know what Roberto Mancini is capable of.
“It’s an exceptional team, and I believe without a doubt that the two best teams in the tournament have reached the final.”
“From what I’ve seen so far, they appear to be very strong defensively, but they also have fantastic players going forward who can hurt teams, score goals, and create chances,” said the England midfielder. “So it’s a very tough game and a difficult game for us, but I feel like if we perform to the levels we are capable of, we can also cause them problems.”
A larger picture
Mancini took over after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, and he has led an unbeaten streak of 33 games.
Unlike the stereotype of Azzurri teams being plodding and defensive, this squad presses high up the pitch and scores in bunches. They’ve scored 12 goals in six tournament games.