England face 'disadvantage' in Euro 2020 final as Gareth Southgate claims Italy are favoured by scheduling

England manager Gareth Southgate believes his players have been disadvantaged by having 24 hours less to recover than the ‘exceptional’ Italian side they will face in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

England manager Gareth Southgate celebrates at full-time after his team defeated Denmark 2-1 in extra-time in their semi-final at Wembley on Wednesday night. (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
England manager Gareth Southgate celebrates at full-time after his team defeated Denmark 2-1 in extra-time in their semi-final at Wembley on Wednesday night. (Photo by FRANK AUGSTEIN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Much has been made of the limited travelling England have had to undertake in the tournament which now sees them play six of their seven matches at their own national stadium.

But Southgate feels this week’s schedule which saw England beat Denmark 2-1 in extra-time in their semi-final on Wednesday night, the day after Italy overcame Spain on penalties at Wembley, could be a factor which works against his squad.

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“It is definitely a bit of a disadvantage but we have to find the best way of dealing with that,” said Southgate.

Roberto Mancini's Italian side and Gareth Southgate's England team will go head to head at Wembley in the Euro 2020 final in Sunday night. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

“In terms of Italy, I think what Roberto Mancini has done and the way they’ve played the last couple of years, the record speaks for itself in terms of the wins, the small number of goals they have conceded. Their style of play has been exceptional.

“We have an immense challenge against a top opponent who have been to 12 semi-finals, ten finals - Italy’s record is phenomenal. So we’ve got a huge task ahead of us but one that we’ll take on with relish.”

Southgate stands on the cusp of a momentous achievement but can already take pride in the manner England have reached only the second major final in their international history.

He was especially gratified at how his team handled conceding a goal for the first time in the tournament as they fell behind to Denmark.

“I think the belief we had (that they could reach the final), we tried to show that over the last two or three days because we kept things simple with the players,” he said.

“We haven’t altered too much about the way that we wanted to play, we didn’t overload them with messages. We felt that they’d learned enough over the last few years to handle an occasion like this.

“We knew Denmark were an opponent that would challenge our team, but one that they were capable of beating if they played at their best and they responded to all of those ideals.

“It was great to see them respond so well to going a goal behind - that was always going to be difficult. You sensed with 8,000 Denmark fans behind the goal, that was going to be a night where they were going to have some moments that we would have to deal with.

“But I’m really pleased with the way we responded to what’s been the first major setback in the tournament. We weren’t behind for too long, teams that have won in the past have been able to do that.

“I can't really tell you how it feels to be a finalist. I don't think it's really sunk in yet. I guess to get to a World Cup semi-final in Russia three years go was probably ahead of where we expected. To get to a final now, it’s hard to say. That was our aim, for sure. We are there and we now have a wonderful opportunity.”

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