Read the full article here.
Crunching the numbers, we see that Italy have had a much more difficult route to the final than England in terms of the quality of teams they have faced. On average, England have faced a team 11 places below them in the European rankings, whereas Italy’s opponents have only been 4 places worse off.
The difference in perceived quality of opponents is particularly clear in the group stages, where England (4th in the world and 3rd in Europe) faced Croatia (10th in Europe), Scotland (25th) and the Czech Republic (22nd). This gives an average opponent 16 places below Gareth Southgate’s men.
In comparison, Italy found themselves in a tougher group with Turkey (18th), Switzerland (9th) and Wales (12th). The average here is only 7 places below Italy’s ranking of 6th in Europe (and 7th in the world).
The knockout rounds were also much kinder to the Three Lions, with the last-16 clash against Germany the only real exception. England’s triumph over the Germans (8th in Europe) was much more impressive than Italy scraping to an extra time victory over the Austrians 9 places below them in the rankings (15th).
However, Italy’s triumph over the number 1 ranked Belgian team in the quarter-final was a real upset. England’s victory over Ukraine (16th in Europe) at the same stage played out as expected, although perhaps a little easier than it should have been!
With Italy and Spain (5th) only being separated by a single place in the rankings, there was no surprise to see the semi-final decided via a penalty shootout. Denmark also proved a tricky opponent for England, which isn’t too surprising given they were the highest ranked team they had faced so far in 7th.
As for the final, with home advantage and a European ranking 3 places higher than the Italians, the expectation is that England should have more than enough to finally bring football home on Sunday. COME ON ENGLAND!