Italy's Giorgio Chiellini on his Finalissima swansong against Argentina at Wembley: "The thought of being able to play more than 100 games over the course of 18 years, being captain, and lifting an important cup like I did last year at Wembley was the icing on the cake."
Wednesday 1 June 2022 00:21, UK
Italy's Giorgio Chiellini says he will enjoy a "beautiful" end to his international career against Argentina at Wembley in Wednesday's Finalissima - but what is it?
European champions Italy will take on their South American counterparts Argentina in the third edition of the 'Cup of Champions' game between the European Championship and Copa America winners, now titled Finalissima, at Wembley Stadium.
Italy manager Roberto Mancini is expected to name as many of his Euro 2020 heroes, who beat England to lift the trophy in the same stadium last July, as possible in the starting XI. But he has also admitted the game represents the "end of a cycle" following the failure to qualify for this year's World Cup in Qatar.
Asked how it will feel to end his international career with this game, Chiellini told UEFA.com: "It's beautiful.
"Argentina have exceptional players. It's obvious that the first one who comes to your mind is (Lionel) Messi but the others around him are fantastic. They didn't win (the Copa America) by accident.
Goalkeepers: Alessio Cragno (Lazio); Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG); Alex Meret (Napoli); Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa).
Defenders: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Davide Calabria (Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Federico Dimarco (Inter), Emerson Palmieri (Lyon), Alessandro Florenzi (Milan), Manuel Lazzari (Lazio), Luiz Felipe (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma).
Midfielders: Nicolo Barella (Inter); Bryan Cristante (Roma); Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo); Jorginho (Chelsea); Manuel Locatelli (Juventus); Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma); Matteo Pessina (Atalanta); Sandro Tonali (Milan); Marco Verratti (PSG)
Forwards: Andrea Belotti (Torino); Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo); Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus); Gianluca Caprari (Verona); Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli); Moise Kean (Juventus); Andrea Pinamonti (Empoli); Matteo Politano (Napoli); Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo); Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo); Mattia Zaccagni (Lazio); Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).
"Messi is a football icon. It's not for me to say if he is the greatest of all time or not. It will just be a pleasure to play my last game for the national team against him.
"It has been, without a doubt, better than I could ever have imagined. When you're a kid, you dream of playing for the national team, because that's the ultimate.
"The thought of being able to play more than 100 games over the course of 18 years, being captain, and lifting an important cup like I did last year at Wembley was the icing on the cake."
Chiellini, who has already played his last game for Juventus after 17 years at the club, added: "I'm at peace. I feel happy with what I achieved and a little bit of pride for what I achieved in my career."
Although not considered a major trophy, Finalissima has motivated Argentina's players enough for manager Lionel Scaloni - who enjoyed his own brief spell in London as a player with West Ham in 2006 - to talk up his squad's hopes of winning the revived tournament.
The 29-man squad Scaloni has selected have been preparing for Wednesday's showdown with warm-weather training in Bilbao, and have "trained like never before" in the words of their manager.
"Of course we would like to win because it's a trophy at stake," Scaloni said. "The most important thing is our target, which is between now and November and which involves continuing to develop our game.
Goalkeepers: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Juan Musso (Atalanta), Jeronimo Rugli (Villarreal), Franco Armani (River Plate).
Defenders: Gonzalo Montiel (Sevilla), Marcos Acuna (Sevilla), Nahuel Molina (Udinese), Neuen Perez (both Udinese), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Christian Romero (Tottenham), German Pessella (Betis), Marcos Senesi (Feyenoord), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), Nicholas Tagliafico (Ajax).
Midfielders: Guido Rodriguez (Betis), Alexis McAllister (Brighton), Rodrigo de Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Giovani Lo Celso (Villarreal, on loan from Tottenham).
Forwards: Lionel Messi (PSG), Angel Di Maria (PSG), Alejandro Gomez (Sevilla), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Joaquin Correa (Inter), Lautaro Martinez (Inter), Julian Alvarez (River Plate).
"Wearing this jersey means taking teams on and competing as much as we can and that's what we will do tomorrow. Regardless of whether we win the trophy or not, what matters is continuing down the path that we have set out on.
"We've trained like never before. The last time we had a full week was possibly before the Copa America, and I don't think that was even seven days so it's possibly the period of the most training sessions with the national team for me and I hope we've got the most out of it.
"You have to look at how much the players have played, particularly at the end of the season. We've made a few tweaks, repeated the things we've been doing well and tried to improve them and of course worked on the areas for improvement."
What is Finalissima?
The 'Cup of Champions', pitting the European Championship holders and the Copa America winners, has been played twice before, in 1985 and 1993, with France and Argentina the respective winners.
A revival of the idea was first mentioned in 2020 before it was confirmed last year by UEFA and CONMBEOL, the two confederations for the continents, that at least three editions of the competition would be played - starting in 2022.
In March, 'Finalissima' was revealed as the name of the competition, meaning "grand final" in Italian.
Why is it only Europe vs South America?
Of the 21 winners of the World Cup to date, all have come from either South America (nine) or Europe (12) - and so while this is not an 'official' winner-takes-all event, it arguably pits together the winners of the two strongest continental competitions.
What are the two teams competing for?
Oh don't worry, there's a trophy up for grabs - slightly taller than the World Cup and roughly the same shape as a Champagne flute, the Finalissima trophy has retained most of the same style as when it was first awarded to France almost 40 years ago.
The main difference is a new base, to incorporate the new name of the competition.