Giorgio Chiellini is a huge fan of England striker Harry Kane, but the veteran defender believes Italy must be cautious of threats from all areas of the field in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
Italy qualified for the final with a penalty shootout victory over Spain on Tuesday, while England advanced to their first European Championship final with Kane’s extra-time winner against Denmark the following day.
After a sluggish start to Euro 2020, Tottenham striker Kane has scored four goals in the three elimination stages, and with a goal in the final, he would become England’s all-time leading goalscorer in major competitions (currently 10, level with Gary Lineker).
The Three Lions captain scored six goals in the 2018 World Cup, matching Lineker’s 1986 achievement of winning the golden boot.
He is now third in the Euro 2020 scoring rankings, behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (both five), with another tournament golden boot firmly in his sights.
Chiellini has been outstanding for the Azzurri during their journey to the final, and the Juventus defender is well aware that he will need to be at his best to contain a rejuvenated Kane.
“It will be extremely difficult, extremely difficult,” he told Euro2020.com.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for Harry Kane. I recall one of his first matches for England, when we faced them in Turin [in a 1-1 draw on Kane’s full England debut in 2015]. Even back then, he left a lasting impact on me.
“I was fortunate enough to face him in a match against Tottenham. He understands how to play deep and how to create space for a teammate with a defense-splitting ball. He scores with his head and from a variety of distances.”
Due to England’s wealth of attacking skill, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Jack Grealish have each made one start.
Despite his praise for Kane’s abilities, Chiellini has cautioned his Azzurri teammates to be on their toes if any of the three makes an appearance on Sunday.
“England are clearly more than Kane, as they have incredible players on both wings and their substitutes could all start for a team that wins this competition,” he said.
“While Grealish, Sancho, Rashford, [Dominic] Calvert-Lewin, and [Phil] Foden were all on the bench, they are all elite performers, including [Jordan] Henderson.
“This will be an excellent match. Neither side will be fearful of the other, but both will have a great deal of respect for one another.”
Italy will compete in their tenth major event final (six World Cup, four European Championship), second only to Germany (14) among European countries.
Roberto Mancini’s men won the European Championship in 1968 but have failed to qualify for the competition’s following two finals (2000 and 2012).