TACTICAL BLUNDER: Italy adjustments lead to win against England
England were unable to adapt to Roberto Mancini's tactical adjustments at half-time in Sunday's EURO 2020 final which Italy won on penalties.
An early goal from Luke Shaw gave the Three Lions the perfect start when the United left-back hammered Kieran Trippier's cross off the post and in.
For the rest of the first half, Gareth Southgate's team looked solid from a tactical standpoint with 11 men firmly behind the ball preventing Italy from getting close to goal.
The Italian's dominated possession but were unable to break the English wall to score.
Mancini recognised this and made a change early in the second half to remove Ciro Immobile and bring on Dominico Berardi.
Initially, questions were asked about the decision, as Italy needed a goal and taking off arguably their best striker seemed a questionable move.
Yet his introduction into the front three alongside Lorenzo Insigne and the ever-dangerous Federico Chiesa gave them fluidity and unpredictability. It was a tactical masterstroke from Italy and Mancini.
Insigne wasted good moments in the first half and could've been taken off himself but now he was finding space between the lines.
The front three were interchanging, dropping deep and staying high causing headaches for the back five of England, while the midfield dominated possession.
All of a sudden, Italy were breaking down England more regularly and although the goal came from a set-piece, it was the controlling nature of their play that produced it.
Italy strung together more than 20 passes before Chiesa's cross was headed behind for the corner that the equaliser came from.
Had Chiesa stayed on the field for the entirety of the game, Italy may have scored again before penalties. His departure hurt the Azzuri.
It had been coming for a while but England manager Gareth Southgate seemed reluctant to be proactive in his game plan.
Instead, he waited for Leonardo Bonucci to score before bringing Bukayo Saka on to replace Kieran Trippier.
This shifted the Three Lions to four at the back and created more space for Italy going forward due to Southgate's side needing to play more offensively without their one-goal lead.
Southgate did not bring on Jack Grealish until nearly the end of the first period of extra time despite their offensive ineptitude.
Harry Kane didn't have a single touch inside the Italy penalty area, while they managed just two shots on target in the match itself.
The England boss answered most of his critics throughout this tournament when it came to his tactics and team selection.
His inability to adapt meant England were outdone by Italy. Mancini's tactical nous is one puzzle Southgate couldn't solve when it mattered most.
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