Euro 2020 Daily Report: England's defence can shut down Italians

England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford
Jordan Pickford has been beaten just once at Euro 2020

As Italy and England prepare for tomorrow's European Championship final, we look at how England's excellent defence can contain the Italian attack. Here's how the key betting markets look.

"England will be looking to go through the entire tournament without conceding a goal from open play. The Three Lions are 2.68/5 to keep a clean sheet against an Italian side that scores an average of two goals a game"

Pickford looking for his place in history

To win any major tournament there are certain attributes a team needs to go all the way. A touch of luck along the way always helps, but a defence that is hard to penetrate will improve a team's chances of being the last team standing.

Sunday's final will see the tournament's best two defences go against each other and if the old saying of defences win championships is right, then England will win their first ever European Championship title. England can match Spain's record in 2012 of winning the tournament conceding just one goal along the way, if they stop Italy from scoring.

England's defence has given up just one goal in their six matches when Mikkel Damsgaard beat Jordan Pickford with a direct free kick in the semi-finals. England are looking to become the first nation to go through the entire tournament without conceding a goal from open play.

Pickford will win the Golden Glove award for keeping more clean sheets than any other keeper and his sights will be set on registering a sixth shutout. England are 2.588/5 to keep a clean sheet against an Italian side that scores an average of two goals a game this summer.

The Three Lions have got to the final by winning four of their six contests to nil including their quarter-final against arch rivals Germany. A fifth win to nil, which would be the fifth successive European Championship final to be won to nil, can be backed at 4.216/5.

Gareth Southgate will stick with Harry Maguire and John Stones at the heart of his defence. Maguire has justified his return to the team after an ankle injury that forced him to miss the first two games. His goal against Ukraine reminded everyone of his threat in the opposition box at set pieces. Maguire is 12/5 to have at least one effort on target and 10/1 to get his name on the scoresheet.

Stones scored twice in a 4-0 win over Panama at the 2018 World Cup and can never be ruled out for a goal.

Stones has yet to score at this tournament, but his efforts in the defence should not be underestimated. Stones has gone 19 games without a goal for club and country, but he is 10/1 to end his goal drought against the Italians and 3/1 to have a shot on target.

Both defenders will happily forego scoring in the final if it meant they kept a clean sheet to help England end 55 years of hurt.

Chiesa looking for more Wembley joy

Italy have been a breath of fresh air this summer with they way they have played. Averaging 18 attacks a game, the Azzurri will be confident of scoring at Wembley, where they have lost to England just the once.

Roberto Mancini's side are not afraid to try their luck from anywhere and they currently lead the tournament with 28 blocked shots. Federico Chiesa's goal against Spain in the semi-final at Wembley, came in the 60th minute and was the 30th goal of the tournament to be scored in the first 15 minutes of the second half. That remains the most popular time bracket for goals.

Chiesa is one of five Italians to have scored two goals at Euro 2020 and the lively Juventus forward is 9/1 to be the first goalscorer of the final and 4/1 to be an anytime scorer. Lorenzo Insigne scored against England at Wembley in a friendly in March 2018, and Insigne is also 9/1 and 4/1 to be the first scorer and anytime scorer respectively.

Italy stat 100721.png

Italy have managed 80 attempts throughout the tournament which works out to be 13.3 a game. Thirty have been on target while 50 have missed the target. The 1968 champions, who had 14 attempts against Belgium, are 13/8 to have 13 or more shots during the final.

The Azzurri has never scored more than 12 goals in a major tournament before and have reached the final averaging exactly two goals per game. Italy can be backed at 3.9 to score over 1.5 goals against England at Wembley. Victory for Italy at Wembley will extend their unbeaten run to 34 matches since losing 1-0 to Portugal in the Nations League in September 2018.

Can Kuipers keep his cards in his pockets?

There has been so much to admire about Euro 2020 and the standard of officiating has been one of them. Yes, that's right, referees have been good. By and large, the men in the middle have allowed games to flow and we can only hope that will be the case at Wembley on Sunday night.

Bjorn Kuipers - 1280.jpg

It's a shame this brilliant European Championships has to come to an end. And it would be a bigger shame if the final was marred by dodgy decisions by the referee. Bjorn Kuipers has been awarded the final and we can all hope the Dutchman does not steal the limelight from the players.

Kuipers kept his cards in his pocket in six of the 36 matches he took control of last season in the Dutch Eredivisie and other European and international matches.

Bjorn Kuipers branded 12 yellow cards in one of the four European finals he has been in charge of. That card-fest was the Champions League final in 2014 between Real Madrid and Atletico.

Kuipers averages six cards in those four final and in the three matches he has refereed at Euro 2020, he has produced a total of 10 cards. Over 40 booking points in Sunday's decider is available at 6/4. So far this tournament, Italians have picked up seven yellow cards which is two more than England and Marco Verratti leads the first booking market at 8/1.

Verratti picked up his 12th yellow card in Italy's win over Belgium and his battle with Kalvin Phillips will be an intriguing subplot. Phillips was booked in the 2-0 quarter-final win over Germany .

Harry Maguire is no stranger to seeing yellow. The Manchester United centre-half has been booked twice during this tournament despite missing the first two matches because of an ankle injury. His caution against Denmark was his 18th of the season and a 19th is available at 9/1.

Read what our experts expect from tomorrow night's final here.

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Read in-depth verdicts from our expert betting writers in our mega team-by-team guide

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