Five classic Italy vs England matches to remember ahead of Euro 2020 final

What lessons can be drawn from history as England and Italy prepare to fight it out for European Championship glory?

Italy are not in the same category for England as the likes of Germany and Argentina, but they have been ferociously tough opposition over the years.

Sometimes it has gone well for England, but usually it's the Italians who have enjoyed the biggest moments.

Italy 2-1 England (World Cup 1990)

Although it felt like England's Italia '90 ended against West Germany in the semi-finals, it didn't. They had one more match to play - the dreaded third/fourth place play-off, and hosts Italy were the opposition.

It was the kind of match you'd expect from two teams devastated from semi-final defeats just days earlier, but for fans it was also quite nice to switch off and say goodbye to an epic and frantic World Cup with a civilised kick around.

The shackles came off a little compared to previous matches, although Peter Shilton, who was playing his last game for England, was maybe a little too relaxed as he dropped a bit of a howler.

David Platt scored, Toto Schillaci secured the Golden Boot, and Roberto Baggio also grabbed himself a goal. It was all very lovely, although tempered with a feeling of sadness that it could have been the final, and it almost certainly would've been a better final than the one we got.

Italy 0-2 England (Le Tournoi, 1997)

Football was at its best in the 1990s. We are not allowed to say it out loud, but we all know it's true.

Le Tournoi was about as 1990s as you could get. France held something of a mini World Cup rehearsal that summer and only invited England, Italy, and Brazil to join them.

Each team played each other and, remarkably, England won, beating both France and Italy along the way.

Even if you don't remember Le Tournoi, you've seen it. It was the tournament in which Roberto Carlos scored his remarkable 'banana' free-kick.

Anyway, England beat Italy in that tournament with Paul Scholes in particularly brilliant form, including arguably the finest assist in Three Lions history.

Italy 0-0 England (World Cup qualifier, 1997)

What is a goalless draw doing in a classic matches piece you might ask. It's a reasonable query.

It's all about context, I suppose. In 1997, English soccer was in a pretty decent place. Euro '96 has reignited the country's passion for the national team and hopes were high heading to France for the World Cup.

They had to get there first though, and that was actually something new. England had failed to qualify for the 1994 World Cup and, as hosts, didn't have to qualify for Euro '96. Italy being drawn in their group threatened to throw a real spanner in the works.

In March 1997, new boss Glenn Hoddle lost his 100% record when Italy came to England and won 1-0 courtesy of a Gianfranco Zola strike. That put the Italians in control of the group early on.

However, England managed to wrestle the initiative back over the next few months, and it soon became apparent that everything would hinge on the return fixture in Rome, which was both teams' last match.

England knew a draw would get them to France, while Italy had to win to avoid a play-off. What followed was a memorably nervy night in Rome, but a successful one for England, who were actually brilliant on the night.

Enrico Chiesa, Federico's father, had the best chance for the Italians.

Back Federico Chiesa to score the first goal in the Euro 2020 final here

England 0-0 Italy - Italy win 4-2 on penalties (Euro 2012)

Sometimes it can be hard to remember all of the penalty shootout defeats for England at major tournaments, can't it?

Arguably the least memorable was at the 2012 European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

After enduring 120 minutes of what can only be described as torture at the hands of Andrea Pirlo, penalties were needed to decide who would advance into the semi-finals.

At one point in the shootout, England were actually winning courtesy of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney scoring and Riccardo Montolivo missing.

That, though, was as good as it got for England, with Ashley Young and Ashley Cole missing the crucial kicks to send the Italians through.

But while the penalty shootout defeat has faded into the background, ITV's after-match studio analysis has taken on greater significance.

Gareth Southgate was an out-of-work manager in 2012 after leading Middlesbrough to relegation from the Premier League. With the talk turning to institutional problems within the English developmental set-up, Southgate laid out his vision for the English game.

Looking back, it's absolutely fascinating.

England 1-2 Italy (World Cup, 2014)

While England fans have all erased from their memories, or tried to, everything that happened in tournaments under Roy Hodgson, Italy certainly had a good time against his teams.

Just two years after meeting in Euro 2012, Italy and England were drawn together in a tough World Cup group that also featured Uruguay.

It was the opening match for both teams and one Italy ultimately won thanks to goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli. Daniel Sturridge scored England's reply.

In an interesting twist of fate, both Italy and England would be eliminated in the group stage as Costa Rica came ploughing through to win the group.

If Italy are looking for good omens for the Euro 2020 final, the referee that day in Manaus was Bjorn Kuipers, who is also taking charge at Wembley.

READ MORE: England and Italy combined XI: Kane, Sterling, Verratti, Bonucci...

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