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Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini has added to the pressure on England by claiming it is "predictable" the Three Lions have reached the Euro 2020 final.
Chiellini, 36, is a seasoned veteran playing in his sixth major international tournament and certainly knows how to get into the heads of his opposition.
The Juventus centre-back showed this in the semi-final victory over Spain, when he appeared to unsettle Jordi Alba before the penalty shootout – although he insists there is an honest explanation.
And in an apparent bid to add to the weight of expectation on England, Chiellini said it is unsurprising Gareth Southgate's side have advanced to the final.
Chiellini heaped praise on England as he stepped up the mind games ahead of the final
(Image: Claudio Villa)
The veteran defender told Rai Sport : "They might not be easy on the eye, but they are hard to beat. I immediately thought England would be a serious candidate to win the Euros.
"They have quality and physicality, are solid and organised. They reached the semi-final at the World Cup (in 2018)."
In a more pointed remark about the Three Lions' run at Euro 2020, Chiellini added: "It was predictable England would be in the final of the Euros, as they played six out of seven games on home turf."
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Chiellini – who was won 111 caps for Italy – also picked out a number of "exceptional" players in Southgate's squad starting with Harry Kane, who has four goals in his last three games.
"Kane is a player I have always liked a great deal," said Chiellini. "I remember one of his first internationals in Turin and he immediately made a good impression on me.
"We’ve been fortunate enough to play against Tottenham, so I know him well.
Will Chiellini captain Italy to glory, or will England come out on top? Comment below.
"England aren’t just Kane, though, as they also have exceptional players attacking down the wings.
"Their bench alone could win the Euros, as yesterday they had Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Phil Foden.
"It’s going to be a great game of football, neither side will be afraid and we’ll both respect each other."
Meanwhile, Chiellini also expressed his surprise at France's early exit from the tournament, with the World Cup holders eliminated by Switzerland on penalties at the last-16 stage.
"We thought that we'd be facing France rather than Spain in the semi-final, as they were the big favourites, they had all the quality needed and international experience," said Chiellini.
"I thought France were a step above the rest, so I had assumed our path towards the final would be Belgium, France and England."
Italy take on England at Wembley Stadium on Sunday night, with the the Azzurri searching for a second Euros triumph and the Three Lions looking for their first.