England will play Italy on Sunday in their first tournament final for 55 years
‘First Brexit, now this’
By Pierre-Etienne Minonzio, L’Equipe
A lot of people in France are disappointed. They think that this tournament has been organised for England to win. The typical French football supporter doesn’t understand why France have to play in Budapest and Bucharest, and couldn’t leave their hotel room, and then hear that England have had Ed Sheeran come and sing for them.
There is a feeling that Uefa have done everything they can to help England win. Which makes no sense to your average France fan – after all, this is the country of Brexit. It’s like an old friend who says ‘I don’t want to see you any more’ – and now they’re getting all this help?
Personally, though, I’m completely amazed by England. I love English football culture. I’ve covered England since 2015 and I’m fascinated by the weight of history that England feel. There’s a line in the Great Gatsby – the last sentence – that says: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” It always felt like that with England – being thrown ceaselessly back into the past.
I reported on the Iceland game and I saw it there – when they went 2-1 down, England knew it was over, even though there was still an hour to go. You could see the players thinking ‘it’s happening again’; the curse had struck.
But now this England side have overthrown the weight of history. Huge credit to Gareth Southgate, the man responsible for this, he has changed the state of mind for the players. It was obvious in 2016 that it was over but against Denmark they stayed calm, said ‘OK, that’s fine’ and they won. Incredible. So impressive.
From the humiliating defeat to Iceland in 2016 to the final in 2021 – England have beaten 'the curse'
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
What is also impressive is the way that they are all such good examples. I interviewed Raheem Sterling for L’Equipe last year and what he told me about racism, and social issues – I’ve never interviewed a footballer as socially bright. I’m totally fascinated by this coach, it’s so impressive. I’m quite in love with these players too.
At the end of the day, football is for the kids, and now they have these role models to look up to. It’s wonderful. If you are a young English player you know you can make a difference now.
It’s such a diverse team. It’s the same as France in 1998. When we won the World Cup it was exactly the same, everyone came together, all races, all people. I mean, don’t get too carried away; three years later, Jean-Marie Le Pen reached the second round of the Presidential election – but it planted a seed and had a huge influence on the next generation.
One thing to remember is: you’re in a final. Enjoy this. It doesn’t last forever. Things change so quickly in football, you have to savour moments like these when they come round.
‘Italians will always appreciate a team that concedes no goals’
By Luca Bianchin, Gazzetta Dello Sport
We’d always thought that this England team would find a way to implode, sooner or later, just like Italy did at home in 1990; Euro 2020 is Wembley 2020, after all.
We thought there’d be too much pressure. And we thought you had too many players with too little experience in the key positions. A midfield with Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice winning the Euros? ‘Buona notte’, as we say in Italy. Not possible.
The truth is, in the last 30 days we did not care about other teams. We liked this England team, of course, because Italians will always appreciate a team that concedes no open play goals in a month of football. We respected the Three Lions, even if some of us also think that the referees showed too much respect for those white shirts.
Despite this, we did not spend hours discussing England, Germany or Portugal, this time. We are in love with our girl dressed in blue and when you are in love, you do not have eyes for other women. Italians only had one wish and Switzerland granted it, one Monday night in Bucharest.
But now people in Italy are talking about England. They’re saying that Raheem Sterling is playing like a champion, and that the player we would love to have in our side is Harry Kane. He is everything Italy need to become the best team in the world.
Harry Kane is everything Italy need to become the world's best player, according to Luca Bianchin
Credit: EDDIE KEOGH/GETTY IMAGES
I admit that you, England, are playing the best football of the tournament; and that you, England, are going to win it. Am I saying this because Italians are too superstitious to write the opposite? Perhaps. See you at Wembley.
‘People are saying England are a typical Italian side’
By Rob Fleur, Dutch football journalist
This isn’t like your usual English team and in Holland, people are saying they are more like a typical Italian side. They play for the result, they do what they have to do to win and it is built on a compact team, really strong in defence. When you don’t concede goals, you have an excellent chance of doing well in tournaments. It is funny because England are going to come up against a team that is just like them in the final.
We recognised that this is an excellent team and there is a lot of praise for the job that Gareth Southgate has done. We like him… but the team, I think previous English teams have been more popular here even though they were less successful. We like the traditional English style, always looking to attack.
There are also complaints that players like Grealish and Foden are not starting games. They would both be in the Holland team if they were Dutch. They are creative players, exciting to watch, but Southgate has other options and they are in the final so…
The player who has really caught the eye over here is Kalvin Phillips, perhaps because we did not know much about him before the tournament. There has been a lot of praise for him.
The other player is Grealish, we like him a lot. But we do not know why Jordan Henderson is not playing, he is very well known and very well liked here.
‘Everybody here will be supporting Italy on Sunday’
By Dani Gil, Spanish football journalist
In Spain, England have always been seen as the team who fail to deliver. At the big moments, they’ve always ‘fracasado’.
But this is different. On the streets of Spain, people are saying that Euro 2020 is now England’s to lose.
England are seen as a fearsome team, with the biggest, strongest and most versatile squad in Europe, but also a lucky one. They’ve played six of their seven games at Wembley, after all, which has created a fair amount of resentment towards them in Spain.
There are a few conspiracy theories doing the rounds. Some people here even think that Uefa have given England favourable treatment for helping break up the Super League. Untrue, of course, but Raheem Sterling’s dubious penalty did not help things on that front.
More people will be supporting Italy on Sunday, even if it was the Azurri who knocked out Spain in the semi-finals.
‘Germans now look to England with envy’
By Stefan Bienkowski, German football journalist
As most German fans sort through the rubble of their own team’s Euro 2020 campaign, a begrudging respect has been applied to Gareth Southgate’s England team.
Like their own pundits and ex-players, German fans thought a last-16 clash with England would have proved to be the perfect tonic after a gruelling group stage but the 2-0 defeat at Wembley ultimately underlined where both of these two nations are at the moment.
England's win over Germany in the second round showed where the two sides are in terms of tournament-winning potential
With one generation retiring and the other being bled through a little too quickly, Germany now look to England with envy as a country a few years ahead of them on a similar path.
Whether it be the abundance of central defenders, strength in depth in the shape of Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish or “England’s crown jewel”, as Kicker have taken to calling Harry Kane, Southgate’s team are exactly where German fans hope to be at next year’s World Cup.
Over the course of this tournament, Germans have grown to like and respect this English team for what they’ve done on and off the pitch. And that may turn into full-blown admiration if Southgate’s side can ensure Italy – Germany’s biggest rivals, even if the English don’t know that – don’t lift another trophy on Sunday.