Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini believes England have players on their bench who are good enough to make it through to the Euro 2020 final.
Gareth Southgate’s squad will face the Azzurri at Wembley on Sunday to win their first major international tournament since the 1966 World Cup.
Much has been said about how Italy’s long-serving Juventus central defense partnership of Chiellini, 36, and Leonardo Bonucci, 34, will deal with England’s youthful front.
However, Chiellini insists that it is not just about captivating players like Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling as Italy is aware of the strength that flows through the Three Lions roster.
“Of course Kane and Sterling are different players from England’s other strikers, with their own qualities, but they are all top players,” said the Italian captain at a press conference.
“It almost makes me laugh because I think England’s bank could probably have made it to the final on their own because they have some exceptional players.
“We’ll try to limit their properties as much as possible, but luckily it’s not an individual game.
“It’s a team game and it doesn’t necessarily matter if Chiellini and Bonucci meet Kane and Sterling – it ultimately comes down to whether Italy can beat England.”
Chiellini accepts that he and Bonucci must be on guard and use all of their experience to fight the pace of the English attack.
“Kane and Sterling are not that young themselves – they are not young hens. They have a lot of experience, but (Phil) Foden, (Bukayo) Saka, (Jadon) Sancho, that’s different, ”said the experienced defender.
“Everyone has their own attributes. If I try to keep them in a race, me against Sterling, I don’t think I would ever beat him.
“But maybe in situations where the ball is supposed to be won and it’s a slightly more physical 50/50, or when the goalkeeper comes up a long ball, I’m more likely to win the header so I’ll have to try. ” restrict their attributes. “
Chiellini is looking forward to a “tough but exciting fight” with the English captain.
“I remember the first time I played Harry Kane, it was a friendly against England in Turin. He immediately impressed me with how many different qualities he has, ”said Chiellini.
“Kane is very technical, he shoots well from distance and is good in the air, he takes free kicks.
“He’s a player who impressed me from day one. I played against him in a (Champions League) game for Tottenham and I’m a really big fan of his. “
It has been suggested that Sunday could be Chiellini’s last appearance for the Azzurri.
“I am really enjoying every last drop of my career,” he said. “I know that I have to take things one day at a time.
“I can’t really go far ahead and have long-term plans.”
Chiellini added: “I feel like there is something special and magical about the group.
“Since the head coach has told us a lot in these weeks, we have grown closer and closer and now we are only an inch away from completing the job.”
The well-rehearsed squad of Roberto Mancini prevailed in the semifinals after a 1-1 in extra time against Spain on penalties and thus extended his unbeaten streak of 33 games.
Mancini, who has transformed the Azzurri since taking office after disappointment over the failure of the 2018 World Cup, has demanded one last push from his players.
“We have to stay calm. We know what a tough game it will be for a number of reasons, ”said the former Manchester City manager.
“England are a good team and have a lot of good players on the bench, but when we have made it that far it also means we are a good team.
“We have to be absolutely focused on our football and understand that it is the final hurdle.”