The ‘perfect’ combined England and Italy Euro 2020 XI

Will Ford
Shaw Sterling Verratti Italy England

How do you build a ‘perfect’ combined Euro 2020 final XI? For some positions, it is obvious: For goalkeepers, it is their ability to save shots; for strikers, it is their ability to score goals. The ‘perfect’ team must be well-rounded, one that can repel any attack and score against any opponent.

To create a ‘perfect’ team you must have centre-backs with different skillsets, a passing midfielder partnered with a tackler, two tackling and crossing full-backs, three attacking midfielders who can create, dribble and/or score goals, and a striker capable of finishing any chance.

Here we go then, the combined Italy and England XI based on Euro 2020 performance. Thanks to FBref for the stats. Players must have started two games to be considered. Sorry, Jack.

 

Goalkeeper: Jordan Pickford (England)
Criteria: Save percentage

Pickford (90.9%) tips Donnarumma (81.8%) to be No.1 having saved one more of the 11 shots on target they have each faced.

But the Italian has been better with the ball at his feet, completing a higher percentage of short, medium and long passes.

 

Right-back: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Italy)
Criteria: Key passes and tackles

Of the England right-backs, it would be Kieran Trippier ahead of Kyle Walker. Trippier has made more key passes per game (0.8 to 0.38) and more tackles (1.2 to 0.38).

But Di Lorenzo’s tackling gives him the nod. The Napoli right-back has made 2.88 tackles per game, including seven in the quarter-final win over Belgium.

 

Centre-back: John Stones (England)
Criteria: Pass completion

We momentarily thought we were going to have to include Francesco Acerbi, but fortunately Stones has the same pass percentage (95.2%).

That’s far better than both Giorgio Chiellini (89.7%) and Leonardo Bonucci (87.35), but the latter attempting 20.5 ‘long passes’ per game – significantly more than Stones (12.9) or any of the others – goes some way to explaining his relatively low score.

 

Centre-back: Giorgio Chiellini (Italy)
Criteria: Headers won, clearances

It won’t be a massive surprise that Harry Maguire is comfortably above the rest in terms of headers won, winning 3.72 per game at an extraordinary success rate of 88.9%. Leonardo Bonucci is above that nonsense, losing more headers than he wins.

He leaves that to Chiellini, who wins 2.5 headers per game and loves a clearance. He completes 6.94 of them per game, compared to Maguire’s 4.42. This one could have gone either way.

 

Left-back: Luke Shaw (England)
Criteria: Key passes and tackles

Only Mason Mount (9) has made more key passes than Luke Shaw (8) for England. It’s a shame to leave Leonardo Spinazzola out, who sparkled before his horrible injury against Belgium. The Roma star made more key passes per game than Shaw (1.9 to 1.6) but the England man has been the greater defensive asset, making 1.4 tackles per game to Spinazzola’s 0.48.

 

Central midfielder: Marco Verratti (Italy)
Criteria: Passes

It was a bid odd that Manuel Locatelli was dropped after his outstanding performance and brace of goals against Switzerland. But when it’s Verratti’s place in the team you’re vacating, it makes sense. He really is extraordinary.

It’s Jorginho everyone’s talking about – perhaps because his displays have been more of a surprise than Verratti’s predictable excellence. The PSG man has completed 84.4 passes per game compared to Jorginho’s 60.2 – way more than England’s destroyers Declan Rice (52.5) and Kalvin Phillips (43.7).

Marco Verratti talks to Ciro Immobile

 

Central midfielder: Declan Rice (England)
Criteria: Tackles, interceptions

Unfortunately there aren’t two Verrattis. He also tops the charts for combined tackles and interceptions on 5.88. Rice (4.71) sneaks in ahead of Jorginho (4.46), but may need to make way in the final, apparently.

 

Attacking midfielder: Federico Chiesa (Italy)
Criteria: Shots on target

The man who looks and plays like a cartoon character is level with four teammates on two goals at Euro 2020, but edges them all in terms of shots on target per game (1.54). Sterling runs him closest for England on 1.38, but we’ll get to him.

 

Attacking midfielder: Domenico Berardi (Italy)
Criteria: Key passes

This is where Jack Grealish falls foul of the two start parameter. He leads the way with 2.94 key passes per game, but Domenico Berardi is just behind on 2.65.

 

Attacking midfielder: Raheem Sterling (England)
Criteria: Successful dribbles

Sterling completed more dribbles against Denmark (10) than any Italy player has in the entire tournament. That’s not meant as a slight on Italy – five of their players have completed more than England’s next best, Harry Kane (4) – but it underlines just how incredible Sterling was in that game.

As a side note, these are the players that could have occupied the three attacking midfield positions that didn’t make this team: Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford, Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Bernardeschi, Nicolo Barella. How many millions of pounds would they be worth altogether? 600?

 

Striker: Harry Kane (England)
Criteria: Shot conversion

Only Goran Pandev (0.5) and Karim Benzema (0.3) among ‘proper strikers’ have a better shot conversion rate than Kane (0.27). He sh*ts on Ciro Immobile (0.15), just as he has done on all the lunatics who doubted him.