It all comes down to this. After 50 matches of Euro 2020, only one remains and it’s the biggest of all. At Wembley Stadium on Sunday, Italy looks to win its first Euro since 1968 and will have to do so against an England side that is playing in front of a raucous home crowd in London as they look to win their first major international tournament since the World Cup in 1966.
The Azzurri, still with a 1.000 record, knows that they are entering into the most hostile environment possible on Sunday, but won’t let that deter them from their goal.
“Even though there will be a mostly English crowd, it will give us additional motivation,” defender Leonardo Bonucci said.
Manager Roberto Mancini doesn’t buy the idea that the home crowd will put England under greater pressure.
“Well, we have to put them under pressure,” Mancini said. “But, of course, matches have to be played to the end, and England are a great team; they’re strong physically and technically, they fight. We’ll have to fight until the very end.”
Mancini, who won a Premier League title as manager of Manchester City, says that even though the stakes are immense, his team must savour the moment and try to relax.
“We have to be very focused, but we also have to play with joy because it’s a football match, and you can’t play a football match if you’re tense and stressed,” Mancini said. “We need to go in with the right amount of pressure, but try to have fun because that’s the only way you can win a final.”
Having defeated Austria, Belgium and Spain in the knockout rounds on the way to the final, the Azzurri have already faced some of the best that the Euro has had to offer, but Bonucci says England’s backline presents a difficult challenge. Denmark winger Mikkel Damsgaard’s direct free-kick goal in the semi-final was the first goal conceded by the Three Lions at the tournament.
“England have a super defence, I already said this during the qualifying phase,” Bonucci said. “They have an excellent midfield, and behind them are [Harry] Maguire and [John] Stones, who had great seasons at Manchester United and [Manchester] City. We will need to give great attention as a defence and show a lot of cunning to score in attack.”
With England a completely different task to undertake than the Azzurri’s previous opposition, Mancini believes the ability to adapt to your opponent is the sign of a great team.
“If you make it to the finals of a tournament like this, all your opponents are strong,” Mancini said. “You have to adapt to different situations. You cannot expect to win with total domination. There are games where you may suffer, because a game doesn’t go the way you would like it to, or because others are doing things you don’t expect.”
Much of the knockout round has been about exorcizing demons for Gareth Southgate. Defeating Germany and then winning a semi-final at Wembley erased the bad memories of 1996 when his missed penalty meant England did neither. Now with the Three Lions in their first final in 55 years, Southgate wants to finish the job, but knows the Azzurri are a daunting test.
“Italy have been a top team for the last couple of years,” Southgate said. “We’ve followed their progress closely. We know the way they play. They play with great energy, they play with great style. They are always difficult to score goals against. Without a doubt, they deserve to be in the final – they have beaten two top teams to get there in Belgium and Spain so it’s the biggest possible test we could have.”
The Danes pushed England to the limit with the Three Lions needing extra time to get the victory and Southgate knows what needs to be different on Sunday than Wednesday’s match.
“I didn’t think we kept the ball well enough through Denmark’s pressure from their front three and we’re going to have to do that better on Sunday because Italy are very good at it,” Southgate said. “We need to find better solutions with that.”
Sunday’s match will be the Azzurri’s eighth major tournament final since England reached its only one in 1966. Italy also holds the edge over the Three Lions historically, posting an 11-11-8 record all-time against England. It will also be the third time these two nations have clashed at a Euro with Italy prevailing in the previous two encounters.
Italy and England last did battle at a Euro in the quarterfinals of the 2012 tournament in Kyiv. After 120 minutes of football didn’t produce a goal, the match went to penalties. In the shootout, Gigi Buffon’s save against Ashley Cole and Ashley Young’s errant shot over the bar were the difference, as the Azzurri pulled out a 4-2 win on penalties.
POTENTIAL ITALY XI: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Emerson; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
POTENTIAL ENGLAND XI: Pickford; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Shaw; Phillips, Rice, Mount; Saka, Kane, Sterling
Andreescu's 3-year title drought extended at Wimbledon tune-up in Germany – CBC Sports
Caroline Garcia won her first tour title in three years after coming back from a set and a break down to beat 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday in the final of the Bad Homburg Open in Germany.
Andreescu was looking for her first title since beating Serena Williams in the 2019 final at Flushing Meadows before injuries forced her to miss the entire 2020 season.
“I’m very happy. It’s been a couple of rough years but, you know, I’m putting in the work and on to the next. I’m excited for Wimbledon,” said Andreescu, who became visibly emotional while thanking her team. “You guys stuck with me through the toughest moments and that’s all anyone could ever ask for.”
She has drawn American qualifier Emina Bektas in the first round of Wimbledon next week. Garcia has Yuriko Miyazaki of Britain for her opener.
WATCH | Andreescu falls to Garcia in Bad Homburg final:
Garcia took a medical timeout for what seemed to be a shoulder problem early in the second set. She then went 4-2 down before winning 10 of the next 14 games to seal the match ahead of the start of Wimbledon on Monday.
“It was a fight [for] every point from the first to the last one,” Garcia said.
Garcia is 8-3 in career finals but her last title was almost exactly three years ago in Nottingham in the build-up to the 2019 Wimbledon tournament.
WATCH | Canadian tennis star Andreescu answers questions from kids:
Kvitova captures Eastbourne title
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova tuned up for the Grand Slam tournament by overpowering Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 6-2 to win the Eastbourne title on Saturday in England.
The 14th-seeded Kvitova earned her first grass-court title in four years — and 29th trophy of her singles career overall – after breaking Ostapenko, the defending champion, early in both sets and feasting on the Latvian’s second serve.
Kvitova saved five break points in the fourth game of the second set to stay in control of the match at 3-1.
“Playing on the grass is very special for me every time,” the 32-year-old Czech player said in her on-court interview. “It’s the best preparation for Wimbledon, as well.”
Kvitova, the Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014, plays Tuesday at the All England Club in a first-round match against Jasmine Paolini of Italy.
She is now 5-1 in grass-court finals in her career. Her most recent title on grass had been Birmingham in 2018.
Injured Keys, Coric out of Wimbledon
Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, and Borna Coric withdrew from Wimbledon on Saturday because of injuries.
The tournament begins Monday.
Keys, an American who was seeded 19th at the All England Club, pulled out because of a hurt abdominal muscle.
She was replaced in the field by Coco Vandeweghe, twice a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and twice a semifinalist at other Grand Slam tournaments, who lost in qualifying this week. Vandeweghe’s first-round opponent will be No. 17 seed Elena Rybakina.
“This isn’t what I was hoping to say a few days before @Wimbledon, but unfortunately I have to withdraw due to an abdominal injury,” world number 24 Keys tweeted.
“I’m so disappointed, but my health comes first and my body needs time to get back to 100%. Lots of love London fans. See you next year.”
Former world No. 7 Keys won her first title since 2019 at the Adelaide WTA tournament in January before reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.
She was defeated in the French Open fourth round by Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova.
Coric is a Croatian who got into the field thanks to a protected ranking because he has been injured. He cited a shoulder problem for his withdrawal.
He was drawn to face No. 12 seed Diego Schwartzman and that spot will be filled by an as-yet-unannounced player who lost in qualifying.
Jaeger: Sexually harassed ‘at least 30 times’
Former teenage tennis phenom Andrea Jaeger said she was sexually harassed “at least 30 times” by a female Women’s Tennis Association staff member during the 1980s.
Jaeger, now 57, also told The Independent she also was unknowingly served alcohol when she was 16 by a different staff member, who drove her home and tried to kiss her.
The two-time Grand Slam finalist was on the tour from ages 14 to 19 and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the world in 1981. Despite her success, she said she made it a habit to avoid WTA officials at tournaments during her five years on tour. Jaeger said much of the harassment occurred in locker rooms.
“I’d change in portable toilets or a bathroom stall because I didn’t want to deal with the comments, the interest or actions of people,” Jaeger said, according to The Independent. “I had at least 30 incidents with one specific non-playing staff member, physical attempts all in the locker room very, very early in my career. That particular non-playing staff employee had a major issue keeping her hands to herself.
“I avoided being in training rooms alone because an approach was made on me there as well.”
Jaeger said she was served multiple alcoholic drinks following the 1982 WTA Championships and began to get fuzzy. An official drove her home.
“When we got to my condo, she walked me to the door and tried something on with me,” Jaeger said. “She was trying to kiss me. I was so sickened that I was crawling up the stairs inside trying not to throw up so my dad wouldn’t see me.”
Jaeger said she complained to WTA officials after the incident and was threatened with reprisals.
She won 10 career titles before retiring at age 19 due to a shoulder injury.
Lightning’s Brayden Point remains out of lineup for Game 6 – Sportsnet.ca
Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper is not anticipating any lineup changes Sunday night for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final as forward Brayden Point continues to deal with an undisclosed “severe injury.”
Point sustained a leg injury during Game 7 of the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He returned for the start of the Stanley Cup Final and recorded one assist in two games before leaving the lineup again.
“It’s tricky too because players are used to playing at, I guess, a certain way or how they feel they can play,” Cooper told reporters. “If they don’t feel confident in playing at the calibre they’re used to, it almost works against them.
“It’s unfortunate because it was a severe injury and at this time of the year, everybody’s trying to get back into the lineup and there are just some things you can’t do. When you can’t do what you’re used to doing, it’s tough on the player.”
The 26-year-old Point, who has 78 points in 76 career postseason games, skated with the Lightning during Sunday morning’s practice, and Cooper did not completely rule him out for a potential Game 7.
“He’s still plugging along here and rehabbing and trying to get better. Who knows? If the series goes one more game, you never know,” Cooper said. “It’s tough on these guys because they’re such competitors.”
The Colorado Avalanche hold a 3-2 series lead looking to secure their first Stanley Cup since 2001 while the double defending champion Lightning are aiming to keep their hopes of a three-peat alive. Watch Game 6 live on Sportsnet or Sportsnet NOW starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
In Gee Chun perseveres, holds off Lexi Thompson to win Women's PGA – Golf Channel
BETHESDA, Md. — In Gee Chun rallied after losing her once-sizeable lead, overcoming a bogey-filled front nine to win the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Sunday when Lexi Thompson faltered with the putter.
Chun shot a 3-over 75 for the second consecutive day at Congressional, but that was enough to win her third major title by a stroke over Thompson and Minjee Lee. Chun, after leading by six at the tournament’s midway point, lost a three-shot advantage in the first three holes of the final round. Thompson was two strokes ahead of her after the front nine, but her putting problems were just beginning.
The 27-year-old Floridian botched a par putt from a couple feet on No. 14, but a birdie on 15 restored her lead to two. Then she bogeyed the par-5 16th while Chun made birdie, leaving the two players tied with two holes remaining.
Thompson three-putted for bogey on 17, and after an impressive approach from the rough on 18, her birdie putt wasn’t hit firmly enough.
Chun’s approach on the par-4 18th bounced past the hole and just off the back of the green, but she putted to within 5 feet and sank her par attempt to win the tournament.
Chun, a 27-year-old from South Korea, led by seven strokes after finishing her first round in wet conditions Thursday. The lead was down to five at the end of that day — still equaling the largest 18-hole advantage in the history of women’s majors.
She was six strokes ahead at the halfway point and had a three-stroke advantage coming into Sunday. She finished at 5-under 283.
Chun won her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2015 and added the Evian Championship in France the following year.
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