Italy vs Argentina news: Gli Azzurri return to Wembley in search of Finalissima glory

For the first time in almost three decades, the Cup of Champions returns as European Championship winners Italy take on Copa America victors Argentina.

Back in 1985, UEFA and CONMEBOL joined forced to create the European/South American Nations Cup - more commonly known as the 'Artemio Franchi Cup'. 

However, after just two editions, the competition was discontinued with Argentina winning the last match - a penalty shootout victory over Denmark in 1993.

Things changed in 2020 as governing bodies in Europe and South America signed a renewed memorandum of understating. Two years later, UEFA confirmed that the Artemio Franchi Cup would return under a new name, Finalissima.

While on paper this may seem like a glorified friendly, there are a few reasons which would suggest otherwise.

Firstly, both these teams are behemoths on the international stage. 

Secondly, the match is taking place at Wembley stadium in front of an expected bumper crowd.

Thirdly, there's a trophy on the line. While it may not be a World Cup, it's still a trophy, and one which will be lifted in one of the most famous venues in sport.

When: Wednesday, June 1, 19:45 BST

Where: Wembley Stadium

Where to watch: Premier Sports

Follow this game via our score centre

Who is the ref for Italy vs Argentina?

Referee Piero Maza

Chile's Piero Maza will take charge of proceedings this Wednesday night.

The 37-year-old has been involved in 16 games this season, and he's already given out 89 yellow cards.

Season stats 2021/22: Matches (16), yellow cards (89), red cards (4), penalties (7)

Recent form

Argentina's Lionel Messi and teammates celebrate winning the Copa America

Argentina are unbeaten in 31 games and arrive in London on the back of a run of 14 wins in 17 games.

Lionel Scaloni's side last tasted defeat back in 2019 when they fell to a 2-0 loss against Brazil. Ancient history in the context of a busy international schedule.

Italy, on the other hand, appear to be suffering from a European Championship hangover after winning just three of their last nine games since the tournament.

More worryingly, Roberto Mancini's men were held to draws against Switzerland and Northern Ireland before losing 1-0 at home against North Macedonia.

Gli Azzurri recently responded with a 3-2 victory over Turkey, but even that was far from comfortable.

Last time out

Argentina 2-0 Italy (International Friendly - March 23, 2018)

The two nations last met in 2018 during a friendly match at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

The South American side dominated proceedings, but were forced to wait until the late stages of the match to make a brekathorugh.

Ultimately though, goals from Ever Banega and Manuel Lanzini sealed the victory for Argentina.

Past ten meetings

Italy wins: 3

Draws: 3

Argentina wins: 4

Italy goals: 12

Argentina goals: 12

Managers' thoughts:

Italy manager Roberto Mancini

Italy boss Roberto Mancini on whether he needs to say loyal to the players who won the Euros: "I don't think that's the case.

"If we look at quality, we should have gone straight to the World Cup with the group we have created. Unfortunately, certain situations cost us as shown in the game against [North] Macedonia, where there were many bad moments and then they scored from 50 metres in the 92nd minute.

"We have a young squad. No loyalty problem."

Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said: "It's always good to play a strong opponent. It's not a good time in terms of dates, very complicated players are coming, with vacations and some with injuries.

"I would like everyone to be fit and that's not possible. It's a handicap that we have today and we will face it as we always have done, that the replacement, or the one that plays does it in the best way. But it's still a nice match and it's a nice test for what is to come."

Predicted Italy vs Argentina teams

Giorgio Chiellini of Italy reacts during the Uefa Nations League semi-final

Giorgio Chiellini is expected to feature in what will be his final appearance for Gli Azzurri.

Roberto Mancini's side will be without Domenico Berardi, Andrea Pinamonti, Federico Chiesa, Ciro Immobile, Gaetano Castrovilli and Rafael Toloi.

Argentina don't have any major injury worries, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Angel Di Maria and Cristian Romero set to start.

Possible Italy starting line-up: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson, Barella, Jorginho, Verratti, Zaniolo, Scamacca, Insigne

Possible Argentina starting line-up: E Martinez, Molina, Romero, Otamendi, Acuna, De Paul, Rodriguez, Lo Celso, Messi, L Martinez, Di Maria

Italy vs Argentina prediction

Italy are in poor form and Argentina will undoubtedly fancy their chances away at Wembley.

The South American outfit are priced as favourites with most bookmakers, and we're backing them to live up to their billing by winning what should be a close encounter.

READ MORE: Nations League 2022/23: All you need to know

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