Even though it’s so close, it’s been 55 years and counting.
Gareth Southgate seems to have sprung a tactical masterclass on the England team.
Despite this, England’s control of the game was wrested from them by Roberto Mancini’s tenacity in making subs until he got it right again.
And it was at that point that England’s age-old penalty curse struck once more.
How did England allow themselves to lose a game that they were leading?
Back to the bad old days: penalty agony England were supposed to have buried their penalty curse with the decision to ask Bukayo Saka to take the fifth penalty.
But, England’s penalty shoot-out performance was awful.
As Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford both missed their penalty attempts, what appeared to be a bold tactic of holding back crucial penalty takers until the last minute of extra time will definitely be questioned.
Bukayo Saka, who is only 19 years old, has been asked to take the deciding kick, but Southgate will have chosen him simply on the basis of who had performed best in training.
After coming on as late substitutes, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford both missed their penalty kicks. Raheem Sterling has a mixed penalty record, but he has also played in huge games.
Years will be spent debating the sequence.
England’s seasoned players, Harry Kane and Harry Maguire, scored superb penalties, and Jordan Pickford was outstanding, his save under pressure from Jorginho terrific, refusing to be intimidated by Chelsea’s skip-and-wait strategy.
Regrettably, England must return to the drawing board.
They have largely removed all psychological hurdles set for them under Southgate, and history has been put to the past.
Yet, this was due to a inability to execute critical abilities under duress.
From dominance to defeat What will remain long in the bar-room conversations is how England, who appeared completely dominating in the first half, physically stronger and tactically sharper than Italy, brought Mancinis team back into the game.
However, you can’t expect to completely dominate a game against high-quality opponents.
Yet, it appeared as if England had invited their opponent back into the game.
Southgate’s best tactical moment came in the first half.
He terrified Italy by switching to a 3-4-3 formation, which they were completely perplexed for 20 minutes. The only surprise – and eternal sorrow – was that England didn’t add to Luke Shaw’s opener within two minutes.
Italy’s full backs couldn’t handle Kieran Trippier and Luke Shaw’s blasting runs.
Gareth Southgate’s finest tactical moment came in the first half of Sunday’s final, when England were superb in distributing the ball wide fast and accurately.
It strained Italy’s shadow-chasing abilities.
The first goal was scored by Harry Kane diving deep, which was a carbon duplicate of Spain’s semi-final goal by Dani Olmo.
Girogio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci
They aren’t going to chase anyone in there and get caught high up the pitch at their combined age of 70.
It hindered Italy’s midfield movement, which didn’t really get going until approximately 35 minutes. Mancini the master Yet if Southgate won the first half, Roberto Mancini dominated the second.
They were already gaining greater possession towards the end of the first half.
Emerson Palmieri and Giovanni Di Lorenzo began to make darting runs from fullback, while Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne made darting runs from midfield, and Chiellini began to play those seeking long balls.
What was striking, however, was how few crosses they were able to deliver properly, and how little they were able to get behind England.
It was a back five with the wing backs.
England appeared to be safe.
Italy’s Roberto Mancini (middle) eventually won the tactical battle, but England couldn’t get out of their back five in the second half, with Jorginho stepping up the dominance.
Kane didn’t seem to be able to cause as much havoc as he had in the first half.
Italy filled the void left by Trippier and Shaw’s deep, no longer leaping surging surging surging surging surging surging surging surging surging surging
The significant change came at 55 minutes, with a double substitution, with Domenico Berardi for Immobile being the most important.
As a result, Insigne was able to go to the center.
Italy was suddenly falling behind in the standings.
The pressure was increasing.
When you give up possession so easily, you’re more prone to concede goals.
On 67 minutes, Bonucci scored.
That happened at 68 minutes in the 2018 semi-final.
Nevertheless, after a strong first half, England retreated to a back five, allowing Croatia’s midfield to reclaim the game.
Southgate’s learning curve appeared to be replayed in the same script: steep but not steep enough. Against Croatia, Southgate appeared frozen.
He made a hasty change here, bringing in Bukayo Saka and switching to a 4-3-3 formation.
It made a difference, but it wasn’t enough to reclaim the game from Italy.
England’s approach has been built around patient possession, allowing their wingers and full backs to make runs.
Yet, no England striker had attempted a goal until late in the game.
Saka and Sterling were unable to flee, and Chiellini was now winning all of Harry Kane’s challenges.
Mancini was a risk taker when it came to his substitutions.
He swapped out the entire front five, allowing them to keep up their press.
England was fatigued, and their passing got sloppy; there were too many long balls that went nowhere.
Gareth Southgate has been outstanding at the Euros, but he still has a few difficulties to work out. Overall, England had 38% possession, reverting to the bad old days of being outpassed and outthought.
But, England came back in the second period of extra time, controlling possession and getting Sterling in on goal.
They never did it enough against Bonucci and Chiellini, though.
In a nutshell, Italy dominated the game from halftime onwards, playing at the speed they set.
The fact that these players are better than this will always annoy them.
They had Italy on the ropes but were unable to complete the task.
England has performed admirably at the Euros, as has Southgate.
Yet, they still have a few stages to go on their quest.