Bonucci explains Italy’s plan for Kane in “youngsters vs veterans” battle

Italy’s veteran pairing at the back in Chiellini and Bonucci have racked up more than 200 caps between them for their country but face a tricky challenge against the likes of Kane and Raheem Sterling

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Leonardo Bonucci said Italy’s old guard must draw on all their experience if they are to stop England’s young guns at Wembley tomorrow.

Juventus team-mates Bonucci, 34, and Giorgio Chiellini, 36, have 219 caps between them and have formed one of the most formidable defensive partnerships in the world for club and country.

But Bonucci knows he and Chiellini will have to be at their wily best tomorrow to nullify the pace and threat of England’s ebullient attackers like Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Bukayo Saka.

“Well it’s youngsters versus veterans, let’s say,” said Bonucci.

“The English forwards are very strong and great players, so we’ll need to be very cautious in our defence and the whole team must be very cautious.

Leonardo Bonucci will come up against a strong England front line in Sunday’s final


Getty Images)

“We know how they can bring difficulties for us, so we’ll need to pay a lot of attention to the pace, and to the quickness of their forwards like Harry Kane and others.

“Kane is a very famous player, he’s been doing very well at Tottenham, for the national team and he’s one of the best strikers in the world.

“In our last three matches we’ve had the chance to meet three of the best forwards in the world, and the plan is to do better and not let anything go in any moment of the game.

“I said during the group stage that England was one of the candidates to win the tournament and now they are in the final against us.

“They have conceded very few shots, they have two great players like Harry Maguire and John Stones, who have helped make Manchester United and Manchester City great.

“So we’ll need to pay a lot of attention as a defence, and we will need to be very smart, in order to score against this great defence.”

Chiellini, who will earn his 112th cap for the Azzurri tomorrow, also singled out Kane and said: “It will be tough, extremely tough.

“I’ve always liked Kane a lot. I remember one of his first matches with England, when we played against them in Turin in 2015.

“Even then he made a huge impression on me. I was lucky enough to play against him in a game against Tottenham.

“He knows how to play deep and how to play a defence-splitting pass for a team-mate. He scores with his head and from long and close-range.”

Who will emerge victorious at Wembley on Sunday? Let us know your score predictions in the comments below.

In the Euro 2012 final, Italy were outclassed by Spain, beaten 4-0, the Italians leggy and jaded as they were humiliated by the Spaniards.

This time, said Bonucci, there can be no such excuses, with Italy having had one more day’s rest than England and Roberto Mancini’s side fully focused on lifting the trophy tomorrow.

“Zero excuses, no excuses,” said Bonucci. “We’re only focused on playing. There’s no tiredness, nothing.

“The past is the past and we’ve learned a lesson. We have had a lot of days to recover and on Sunday we will be ready to fight for the trophy.”

Bonucci also claimed Italy will not be affected by the crowd being dominated by England fans, but will actually draw inspiration from being the underdogs, with Gareth Southgate’s side playing at home.

“We’re looking forward to going to Wembley, even though the crowd will be mostly England fans,” said Bonucci.

“Just being there will be additional motivation for us, because we want to achieve something historical.

“We will do everything we can, we’ll play a great match and then we’ll see what at the end what the final result will be.”

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