Italy duo with combined age of 70 to play key role if England to be denied Euro 2020 glory
Italy’s veteran defensive rocks Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini are backing their speed of thought to beat England’s speed of foot in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
The Juventus pair, who played together in the 2012 European Championship final, will not be able to match England’s frontline for pace but they can fall back on the accumulated street wisdom of more than a decade playing together for Italy.
The pair are so close they will be going away on holiday with their families together three days after the final.
But this could mark the end of the road for them as an international double act with Chiellini, who turns 37 next month, poised to retire from the international game.
It might be a long time before England encounter a partnership with 70 years between them again.
“It’s youngsters versus veterans, let’s say,” said Bonucci, visually the Bradley Wiggins to Chiellini’s Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants.
“The English forwards are very strong and great players so we will need to be very cautious in our defence and the whole team must be very cautious.
“We know how they can bring difficulties for us so we’ll need to pay a lot of attention to the pace of their forwards.
“I said during the qualifiers that England was one of the candidates to win the Euros. And now they are in the final against us.”
If Italy have drawn admiration for their fluent attacking football during this tournament, then their success has been built, as always, on the defence and Bonucci and Chiellini have been the foundations of that defence.
There is a Mount Rushmore feel about their permanence. They have played 60 games together for Italy and in those games the Azzurri have conceded only 59 goals.
“The praise received by Jose Mourinho is a great pleasure for me. It made me think that I did well in my career,” said Bonucci.
“The praise is written in stone, it can’t be touched, but it stays there. I need to focus on this game.
“Harry Kane is a very famous player. He’s been doing very well at Tottenham and the national team – he is one of the best strikers in the world.”
If he will be keeping a close eye out on the England captain during the game, Bonucci will be scanning the stewards afterwards for the one who failed to recognise him on Tuesday night after he went to the crowd to celebrate the semi-final win over Spain and tried to prevent him rejoining his team-mates.
“I was disappointed with the hug after – she was a little bit cold – but they do a very tough job, spending hours keeping the fans at bay. If I recognise her at the end of the final I will hug her again,” he said.
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