Paul Merson: "Italy will be worried about England. We are playing at Wembley. Look at the fans. At the end of the game, the hairs on my arms were standing up. You could really feel it and it is a massive advantage. It's a goal for England the fans being there"
Sunday 11 July 2021 20:58, UK
Paul Merson says Italy will be worried by the prospect of taking on England in front of a partisan crowd at Wembley in Sunday's Euro 2020 final.
English football is set for a historic occasion at Wembley this weekend as England get set to feature in their first international final since 1966.
England's dramatic extra-time win at Wembley over Denmark in the semi-finals sparked wild celebrations across the country and ended England's 55-year wait for a major men's final appearance.
It set up another Wembley showdown, this time with Italy and former England international Merson, speaking to Sky Sports News, looks ahead to the mouth-watering final and gives his prediction,
Will football be finally coming home? Read on for the Magic Man's final thoughts...
I didn't think I'd see England in another final in my lifetime. I've seen some unbelievable England teams over years, even when I played and before I played, and for this team to get in the final is a major feat. They should be extremely proud of themselves.
I hope England win, I really do, but this is going to be a hard game.
We've got to get around Jorginho and disrupt him. We've got to stop him getting on the ball and stop them playing out from the back.
I haven't seen a team in this competition move the ball so quickly from the goalkeeper to the forward line. It's a really quick transition and it is all so smooth. We have to stop that at source. If they start going through us like that it's going to be a big problem.
But there is no doubt they will worry about us.
The pace we have in attack and now Harry Kane looks like scoring all the time.
It's a proper game - a worthy final. They are the best two teams in the competition.
Sky Sports' Paul Merson:
"You've got to hand it to Gareth Southgate. What a brave manager he is.
"Through the whole of this tournament he's made big decisions, big enough decisions that if they were to go wrong, he'd probably be out of a job the next day.
"Taking Jack Grealish off against Denmark was another big one. Taking someone off like Jack, who when the game really opens up is the one player who can really punish the opposition other than Sterling. But that is what I like about Gareth.
"From day one he's made the tough calls. From Kieran Trippier playing left-back against Croatia, every decision he's had has been a big one and he's done it his way. If he'd have failed it would have been his way. There would have been no regrets or wondering why he hadn't listened to himself or his coaches. Fair play to him for that."
Gareth Southgate has got more big decisions to make.
It's a different game again and Italy are a very good side. They are a very good counter-attacking team.
But Gareth won't worry about it. He'll just name his team and that's it.
It's the next game and it is horses for courses and if he has to change it, he will.
That's what I like about him. I have to give him A+ for the way he's been with his decision making.
Kane is one of the cleverest footballers around.
He doesn't want to get in a battle with Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci. He knows they will want a battle because they are warriors. But he'll be dropping off and when he does that, he can put a ball through the eye of a needle just like he did for Saka for England's first goal.
So, Kane will cause Italy plenty of problems. They will be thinking do they come, or do they go and the one thing I liked with England against Denmark with Saka and Sterling either side of Kane is that they are willing to run without the ball.
I saw in the friendlies before the tournament that we weren't that willing to run without the ball, but Saka and Sterling are willing to do it.
If you are willing to run without the ball, you cause so many problems, just like we saw with Liverpool when they were at their best in the year they won the Premier League. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane did it for Liverpool and when you have players willing to do it, it is so hard to stop.
England have to keep doing it against Italy and Kane is such an intelligent footballer. For me, he'll probably go on and win the golden boot.
Sky Sports' Paul Merson:
"What more can you say about Raheem Sterling? The kid is phenomenal. His strength of character, his fitness and the way he runs at players. His mental strength is phenomenal, and I'm so pleased for him. He gets a lot of stick this kid, and I say kid because he's still so young.
"For me, he's been the player of the tournament. He's been outstanding from the very first minute of the tournament right up until the end of extra time on Wednesday. Look at the run he makes at the end of extra-time. It's just phenomenal.
"I've also got to give someone a mention, who again I thought was outstanding against Denmark and it's Kyle Walker. He was brilliant. I thought his pace and everything else about his performance was top drawer."
Italy will be worried about England.
We are playing at Wembley. Look at the fans. At the end of the game, the hairs on my arms were standing up.
You could really feel it and it is a massive advantage. It's a goal for England the fans being there.
Italy will be quietly confident, of course they will. They are unbeaten in 33 games. But they will have their concerns with England. They know they are up against a very good England team that has got pace, is very fit and includes players that can change the game.
We've also got superb players coming off the bench. Anyone that comes off the bench is not weakening the team. There are not many countries in world football that can do that.
So, Italy will be worried but at the same time, England should also be worried about Italy too, of course.
I think it's going to be a thriller.
There will be goals galore in this game, in my opinion.
Even though both teams are very good defensively, you are talking about a lot of football matches being played over a short space of time. There's been a lot of football since September up until now.
I can just see a lot of goals. There is so much movement in both teams and a lot of pace.
I am going to go 3-2 to England after extra-time.
I just think both these sides are electric going forward and they will cause each other problems. But England can shade it. Whatever happens it is going to be some match.
England are preparing for their first ever Euros final - but can they beat Italy to lift the trophy? Jasper Taylor is joined by Kaveh Solhekol, Peter Smith and Oliver Yew to discuss what Gareth Southgate's side will have to do to make sure they come out on top in Sunday's showdown.
Sky Italia reporter Valentina Fass is also on the show to give us an insight into the Italian camp, the team's renaissance under Robert Mancini, and what Italian supporters think of this England side.
Plus we hear from Gary Neville on the incredible atmosphere at Wembley and how that affects players, and Jamie Redknapp on why stopping Jorginho could be the key to England's hopes.
Drink it in... England are in a major tournament final for the first time since 1966 after their extra-time win over Denmark at Wembley in semi-final of Euro 2020.
Kate Burlaga is joined by Rob Dorsett, Pete Smith and Nick Wright to discuss an historic night, and whether this 'new England' side can go all the way against Italy on Sunday.