This year’s delayed UEFA Euro 2020 tournament has been a wonderful spectacle, and it is set to reach its peak in what looks to be a heated final between Italy and England, two of the most supported nations across the Maltese Islands.
In a match that is set to divide Malta’s football fanbase, with both sides on the verge of greatness, we will be taking a look at ten of the most iconic meetings between the two nations.
1. Italy 1-1 England (13 May 1933, Rome)
The first-ever meeting between Italy and England was an international friendly at the now demolished Stadio Nazionale del PNF (National Fascist Party Stadium) in Rome, which finished in a draw.
Giovanni Ferrari gave Italy the lead in the fourth minute, only for Arsenal legend Cliff Bastin to equalise later on.
2. Italy 0-4 England (16 May 1948, Turin)
The first matchup between the two sides after World War Two ended up being England’s biggest ever win against Italy, in a game that had an attendance of around 58,000.
Stan Mortensen and Tommy Lawton scored for England in the first-half, with Tom Finney scoring a double in the second-half to round off a wonderful win for England.
3. Italy 2-3 England (24 May 1961, Rome)
Defensive blunders, late goals and photographers running onto the pitch, this game had it all.
Italy was leading 2-1 with just 13 minutes left of the game, yet goals from Gerry Hitchens and Jimmy Greaves helped England secure another friendly win with just five minutes left to play.
4. England 3-2 Italy (28 May 1976, New York City)
Due to England and Italy’s failure to qualify for the 1976 European Championships, they joined Brazil and a special Team America in a Bicentennial Cup Tournament celebrating the 200th anniversary of the United States’ independence. It was a goal-fest, with Francesco Graziani’s double giving Italy a comfortable lead in the first-half.
However, England fought back in the second-half, with goals from Mick Channon and Phil Thompson giving England the win.
5. Italy 2-0 England (17 November 1976, Rome)
Italy came out on top in the two nations’ first-ever meeting in a World Cup qualifier, with iconic Fiorentina attacking midfielder Giancarlo Antognoni opening the scoring, with Juventus great Roberto Bettega doubling Italy’s lead later on.
6. England 2-0 Italy (16 November 1977, London)
Just under a year after their first World Cup qualifier, the two sides met again, but this time England won at the original Wembley Stadium in front of 92,500 spectators. Liverpool title-winner Kevin Keegan scored the opener, with Trevor Brooking scoring late on.
Yet it proved to be futile as Italy won their final qualifier and England failed to qualify for the 1978 World Cup on goal difference.
7. Italy 1-0 England (15 June 1980, Turin)
Their first meeting in a major tournament came in 1980, when the two nations squared off in their second group game of Euro 1980. Italy won thanks to a goal from Marco Tardelli, the same man that would go on to score in the 1982 World Cup final.
Italy finished second in the group and went through to the competition’s third-place playoff, while England were eliminated.
8. Italy 2-1 England (7 July 1990, Bari)
Italy and England both suffered heartbreak in the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup, and as a result they faced each other in the third-place playoff, where Italian cult hero Salvatore Schillaci scored the winner from the spot after David Platt had cancelled out Roberto Baggio’s opener.
9. England 0-0 Italy (24 June 2012, Kyiv)
The two nations met in the Euros once again, this time in the quarter-finals, as Andrea Pirlo orchestrated most of the play for Italy, in a game that went all the way to penalties. Italy ran out as 4-2 winners in the penalty shootout, and it will always be remembered for that audacious chipped penalty from Pirlo that sent Joe Hart the wrong way.
10. England 1-2 Italy (14 June 2014, Manaus)
The most recent competitive encounter between them came in the 2014 World Cup, with Italy being victorious thanks to two beautifully worked goals from Claudio Marchisio and Mario Balotelli, with Daniel Sturridge scoring England’s only goal.
It was a tournament to forget for both nations, as they were knocked out from a group containing Costa Rica and Uruguay.
With so many heated encounters over the years, we are set for a game like no other on Sunday night, as the two sides will look to bring glory back to their nation.