Ahead of the much-anticipated Euro 2020 final on Sunday evening, many spectators are trying to guess where the game will be won and lost.
Much has been made of England’s attack versus Italy’s vastly experienced duo of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini in defence, as well as the battle in midfield.
Yet, with both England and Italy’s semi-finals going to extra time, the match may be won and lost through players from the bench.
Andrea Belotti factor
One man who Italy boss, Roberto Mancini, has frequently gone to in hope of an added spark is Torino striker Andrea Belotti.
With five appearances in the tournament so far, Belotti has yet to register a goal or an assist, but he played a key part in both of Italy’s extra-time goals against Austria in the Round of 16.
The 27-year-old was also called upon in the Azzurri’s semi-final tie against Spain, therefore it is possible he will feature against Gareth Southgate’s men.
Conor Coady’s big role
The striker has spent his whole career in Italy, so to many of the England squad he may be a relative unknown, except to Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Conor Coady.
Coady faced Belotti twice at the beginning of the 2019/20 season with Wolves emerging victorious in a Europa League play-off qualification tie against Torino.
Although Wolves won, Belotti scored in both legs, including a penalty in Turin, just as he did in Tuesday’s penalty shoot-out defeat of Spain.Embed from Getty Images
In addition to his prowess from the 12 yards, Belotti has been described as a ‘bustling striker’, who enjoys physical duals with centre-backs.
England will have to be wary, but expect Coady to offer England’s likely centre backs for Sunday, John Stones and Harry Maguire, a debriefing into how to handle the frontman.
Although he is yet to feature at Euro 2020, the Wolves captain has been hailed as the “player of the tournament,” by England assistant manager, Steve Holland, for his role off the pitch.
Even if it is unlikely that Coady will feature on Sunday, his presence will be felt.