Rome (AFP) – Defender Leonardo Bonucci warned that Italy were not scared of taking on hosts England on home soil in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday.
Italy are targeting a second European title after 1968 while England have never won the continental tournament, with their only major trophy the 1966 World Cup which they won at the old Wembley.
“Playing at their home does not scare us,” the 34-year-old Juventus centre-back told a press conference Friday.
“We’re only thinking about playing football and having fun. The rest is just chatter. On the pitch there will be the best show for European and world football from Italy, England and the referees.
“We are looking forward to taking to the field even though most of the fans present will be English. We want to do something historic, have a great performance and then we’ll see how it ends.”
Veteran Italy duo Bonucci and captain Giorgio Chiellini, 36, will be tasked with stopping England striker Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, England’s star performer at this tournament.
“Young against old men…” smiled Bonucci.
“Kane? We’re not discovering him now, it’s been years that he’s being doing good things with Tottenham, England.
“In the last three matches we’ve been lucky to come up against the three best strikers in the world (Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata and Kane). It’s just an added motivation not to concede anything.
“They have very strong forward, we will need to be very careful of them, the defence and the whole team.
“We know the difficulties they can give us and we will have to be careful about their speed.”
Bonucci and Chiellini are the only remaining players from the Italy team that lost the Euro 2012 final to Spain, with coach Roberto Mancini taking over in 2018 after their failure to qualify for the World Cup that year.
“Mancini pushed us right from the first day,” continued Bonucci.
“There we felt everyone’s desire to start again.
“He worked on the mind, giving us back our confidence, enthusiasm, self-esteem.”
The postponement of the tournament also helped Italy rebuild, he believes.
“It helped us one more year. Experience for everyone, young and even us older players.
“In this year we have gained experience and enthusiasm, it has allowed us to be here to believe in something that three years ago seemed utopia.
“The past is the past. We’re ready to do battle on Sunday.”
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