Alan Shearer and Rio Ferdinand both agree England will be up against it should they take on Italy in the Euro 2020 final.
Italy beat Spain in a thrilling semi-final at Wembley, with the game going to penalties after Alvaro Morata scored a late equaliser for Spain.
Roberto Mancini’s side dug deep to stave off a Spain revival in extra time and then held their nerve superbly in the shoot-out, with Jorginho slotting home a cool as you like penalty to win it for Italy.
England have the small matter of dumping out Denmark on Wednesday night to have the chance to face Italy, but Ferdinand predicted they would be difficult to beat.
“The Italians, I fancied before the game they’ve got that character, mentality, toughness and with all six substitutions that were used for the Italians, the two warriors at centre-half (Chiellini and Bonucci) stayed on the pitch,” Ferdinand said on the BBC.
They are integral to this team’s success and what they are doing.
“The way Roberto Mancini has turned the fortunes of the national team around he deserves huge credit and they’re going to be a tough side to crack in the final.”
Shearer agreed with Ferdinand’s assessment, hailing the mentality of an Italy side who never appear rattled.
“You’ve got to complement Mancini and his team. What a team of character he’s got, 33 matches that’s now unbeaten for Italy,” he said.
Head coach Italy Roberto Mancini (C) celebrates at the end of the UEFA Euro 2020 Championship Semi-final match between Italy and Spain at Wembley Stadium
Image credit: Getty Images
“The togetherness they have in that squad together with their ability, they’re going to be very tough to beat in the final.”
Jurgen Klinsmann was also full of praise for Italy who were not given much of a chance of winning the tournament before it began.
Like his fellow BBC pundits, the Germany legend heaped praise on Mancini, who has reaffirmed himself as a remarkable coach with his international side.
“Seeing the Italians going to the final after what they went through, we feel for this country, they were struggling so big with Covid,” Klinsmann said.
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“It’s just amazing the story of Roberto Mancini and this team and every individual player of that team.
“It’s a fantastic moment. They’re all united, all the Italians they came together, it’s unbelievable this story and how they stick together.”