* All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
Football, eh? Wherever it currently resides, it’s either coming home or going Rome on Sunday evening. You’ll have your own preference for that outcome, of course, and I’m not going to try to steer you in one direction or the other. It looks too tight to call, so you’re on your own there, pal.
NEW TO PADDY POWER
But what I can do is poke around in the stranger corners of the Paddy Power betting markets. If the likes of total goals and both teams to score seem a little too obvious, let’s take a look at some of the more unusual markets ahead of the final. Good luck, or – if google translate is to be believed – in bocca al lupo.
WHEN: Sunday, July 11: 8pm
WHERE: Wembley Stadium, London
TV: BBC, ITV and RTÉ2
Cristiano Ronaldo (who was expected to score plenty of goals at Euro 2020) and Patrik Schick (who wasn’t) each have five goals on the board and are joint-favourites in this market.
As no Italian has scored more than twice, we can rule out any of Roberto Mancini’s boys from making a late dart for the crown. The only realistic outright chance is Kane, as he has four goals following his semi-final winner, which puts him one ahead of Sterling.
Can Kane score twice against a mean Italian defence? Here are the teams he has scored two or more against: Bulgaria, France (in a friendly), Malta, Montenegro, Panama, Tunisia and Ukraine. Beyond that the Tottenham man has netted once against Germany, but there isn’t much in his record to suggest he’ll do serious damage to one of international football’s big boys.
While your bet will be subject to dead heat rules, if you want a wager here then back Schick. You can tell people you were on him at the start, we won’t grass you up.
What was weird about the fact that Antoine Griezmann was awarded the player of the tournament at Euro 2016? It’s not that his name contains a ‘z’, as Zinedine Zidane and Theodoros Zagorakis have shown in the past that the final letter in the alphabet seems to help.
No, it’s that he played for the runners-up, rather than the tournament winners as had always been the case for this award since it was launched in 1996.
Lorenzo Insigne is seventh favourite at the time of writing, so the power of the ‘z’ may come into play once again.
But it looks to be a shootout between Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. As the three goals Italy have conceded have been to centre-forwards/penalty takers – Sasa Kalajdzic, Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata – then perhaps ‘H’ can score the decisive goal and take this prize home with him? And after he plodded around aimlessly in the early matches, who doesn’t love a good redemption story?
One-off matches between different countries every four years can’t possibly have any influence upon each other, yet history shows there is a reasonable chance of this match going to extra time.
At which point you remind me of Spain’s 4-0 win over Italy in 2012 but cast it from your mind. Three of the last six European Championship finals were settled in extra time, and two more ended 1-0 so weren’t far away from going the distance. Both teams have won a match in extra time already this summer, and with little to divide them they may have to do so again.
Italy have been the masters of the long-range pop at goal at Euro 2020, averaging 6.5 shots per match from outside the penalty area. Fortunately for them they have scored three times, which until Wednesday night made them the joint-top goal getters from distance.
But then Jordan Pickford reminded everyone who doesn’t watch Everton regularly (a.k.a. most sane people) that he is poor at dealing with shots from outside the box. Denmark took the lead via a free-kick and Italy may be able to catch Pickford out too.
Not least as they have Lorenzo Insigne, who – aside from the currently unemployed Lionel Messi – scored the most goals from outside the box in Europe’s big five leagues this season. And he also bagged one against Belgium, so if he can beat Thibaut Courtois from there then Pickford’s got no chance.
If you watch one of the England goal packages currently clogging up social media, you will notice that a lot of their goals at Euro 2020 have come from crosses from the byline. As a wise man once said, there’s only one way to beat them, get round the back.
Gareth Southgate’s boys are the tournament’s top scoring team of headed goals, with five, and they led the way with the same number at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
They have a lot of choices here, but why not go for a man whose birth certificate literally has Slabhead scribbled upon it? And after what he went through in Greece last summer, who doesn’t love a good redemption story?
We need to finish with a long shot bet so England fans can celebrate in style if their team does the unthinkable and manages to emulate Greece.
It’s reasonable to assume they’ll have more corners in each half as the team likely to do more attacking. Belgium had nine to Italy’s five in the quarter-final, and the corner count was 6-1 in Spain’s favour in their last match.
But can England win both halves? We’ve established that Maguire will score a header and Kane will net too, so why not? Picture it now… England take the lead from a corner after about 35 minutes and see it through to half time.
Italy attack for most of the second half but with four minutes to go, the Three Lions roar forward. Kane is clean through, he can’t miss and he… hits it straight at Gianluigi Donnarumma. But taps in the rebound, and England are champions of Europe. Cue Neil Diamond, and savour your sweet winnings.
Top Goalscorer – Patrik Schick
UEFA Best Player of the Tournament – Harry Kane
Method of Victory – Either Team in ET
To Score From Outside The Box – Lorenzo Insigne
To Score a Header – Harry Maguire
#WhatOddsPaddy – England to Win Both Halves & England to Have Most Corners in Each Half
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