England manager Gareth Southgate has told his team to focus on reproducing its form throughout Euro 2020 in Sunday’s final against Italy and not get caught up in the emotion of the occasion.
England has not won a major tournament since its solitary success at the 1966 World Cup and the country is gripped with anticipation of ending that wait on Sunday.
Roberto Mancini’s side is unbeaten in its last 33 matches and is the toughest opponent England has faced in the tournament, but Southgate said there was no need to think about changing the approach for the clash at Wembley.
“It’s not necessarily about doing better. The key is to hit your normal level. Lots of teams in finals end up under-performing,” he told a news conference.
“It’s about transferring what you do on the training pitch into the match. This game now is a different tactical challenge and we have got to prepare properly for that,” he said.
Southgate said his team need to respect the opposition but focus on its own strengths.
“There are fantastic players all the way through the Italian team, they have a good tactical plan, an experienced coach and are on an amazing run,” he said.
“We have our own strengths. We’ve tried to play to ours and we need to do the same tomorrow.”
Southgate conceded he has thought about the prospect of winning the tournament but said it is vital his players put celebration plans out of their minds.
“At the back of your mind, you always have to have a bit of a vision on how you would like to see the end and play that out. But the reality is you have to focus on the processes and focus on the performance and that’s what we have always done with this team,” he said.
“It’s important the players have an understanding of that. Whatever path the game takes, they are prepared and they are ready. If you start to think about the end then you’re probably heading in the wrong direction and we’ve just got to control the bits we can control.”
England captain Harry Kane agreed it was vital that England kept its cool despite the fever-pitch levels of excitement in the country.
“Of course there’s an extra level of excitement and anticipation but that’s all part and parcel of playing in major football,” said Kane.
“A lot of us have played at the highest level in our club careers. A few of us had the opportunity in the World Cup a few years ago so it’s just about staying calm and as relaxed as you can and just look forward to being out there and enjoying the moment as much as you can,” added Kane.