Atletico Madrid have completed the reported €35million signing of Argentina international midfielder Rodrigo de Paul, with Diego Simeone acquiring arguably the ideal creator for his philosophy.

De Paul, 27, has signed a five-year contract with Los Colchoneros and gets the opportunity complete unfinished business in Spain.

The midfielder spent two years with Valencia from June 2014 but endured an unsuccessful spell, failing to win over Nuno Espirito Santo and then Gary Neville, who allowed him to return to former club Racing on loan in February 2016.

De Paul came through the youth ranks at Racing and made his jump up to the senior side the year after Simeone left the club for Atleti.

After his brief loan return to Racing concluded, Valencia sold De Paul to Udinese where he looked to recapture the form that had earlier seen him identified as one of South America's most-promising young players.

He was a regular throughout his five years in Serie A but enjoyed his finest campaign of all in 2020-21, displaying a skillset that looks an ideal fit for the requirements of a Simeone team.

Throughout Simeone's 10 years as Atletico coach, his signings of creative players have tended to be hit and miss, with it a common conception that his intense demands both in training and during matches can sometimes stifle more mercurial talents who are not used to such workloads.

But De Paul, who is comfortable playing both centrally and out wide, has shown plenty of evidence he should be up to the challenge and is relishing the chance to play under Simeone.

"I'm very happy to have the opportunity of working under Simeone's commands," he told Atleti's website. "Firstly, because of the kind of football manager he is; one of the all-time best.

"I love football, it's part of my daily life, and having a manager of Simeone's high-calibre guiding me is a privilege.

"In addition, it fills me with patriotic pride. I'll enjoy being under his command because I grew up watching him play with Argentina's national team."

 

Providing creativity is De Paul's bread and butter, with his 82 key passes in 2020-21 bettered by only Hakan Calhanoglu (98) in Serie A.

Of those chances, 34 came from set-pieces, highlighting his prowess from dead-ball situations and ranking him fourth in Italy's top flight.

Only five players got more assists than his nine, but all of them massively out-performed their modest expected assists records, which ranged from 3.4 to 6.7. De Paul topped the charts for expected assists with 10.3 xA, evidence that his assists reflected the quality of his service rather than him getting lucky or benefiting from unusually good finishing by team-mates.

Yet the area which highlights a particular compatibility with Atleti is the fact he won more duels (294) than anyone else in Serie A in 2020-21.

Combine that with his league-leading completed dribbles (122) and it paints a picture of a hard-working player who also possesses the quality to get his team on the front foot.

He will join up with Atleti following a short break having played a crucial role in Argentina's recent Copa America success, in which he got the decisive assist for the Angel Di Maria goal that secured the title.

Jorginho is attracting interest from a number of clubs but will remain a Chelsea player next season unless "a serious offer" is tabled, according to his agent.

The 29-year-old has spent the past three seasons at Stamford Bridge and has another two years to run on his existing contract with the European champions.

Former Napoli midfielder Jorginho finished the 2020-21 campaign as Chelsea's leading Premier League scorer with seven goals, albeit each of those came from the penalty spot.

He carried that form into Euro 2020, playing every game for Italy in their successful campaign that ended with a penalty shoot-out win over England in Sunday's final at Wembley.

Jorginho has regularly been linked with a return to Italy, while Barcelona were also recently credited with an interest, but representative Joao Santos expects him to stay.

"He has a two-year contract," Santos told Calciomercato. "It's all in the hands of Chelsea.

"There's the Club World Cup next season and the European Super Cup. For a footballer, these are important targets.

"But the transfer market is always the transfer market and if a major club comes forward with a serious offer to Chelsea, then we will evaluate.

"At the moment, Jorginho will play at Chelsea next season."

Asked about the rumoured interest from Juventus, who recently reappointed Massimiliano Allegri, Santos said: "I can confirm it, these interests have arrived. 

"Of course, at 29, he can do very well in all the top European clubs, and many are interested in him.

"However, I want to close by saying that I'm happy all Italians can breathe the air of champions today."

Jorginho missed from the spot in Italy's shoot-out win against England, but he otherwise enjoyed an impeccable tournament for the Azzurri.

The Brazilian-born player led the way in terms of interceptions at Euro 2020 with 25, substantially more than Chelsea team-mate N'Golo Kante (14), who was next best.

Meanwhile, Jorginho's 484 successful passes were bettered only by Spain's Aymeric Laporte (644), leading to seven chances being created for his team-mates. Only Azzurri team-mate Lorenzo Insigne (40) was involved in more shot-ending sequences than his 38.

"Jorginho is an example of true integration into the Italy side," Santos added. "Blood is not involved, he sees Italy as his homeland.

"In Italy he sees immeasurable feelings. He feels Italian even though he was born in Brazil; everyone should learn from such a strong feeling."

Shane Lowry is eager to embrace every aspect of the challenge he faces in trying to defend his Open Championship title at Royal St George's.

The Irishman claimed his first major title at Royal Portrush in 2019 and has had to wait two years to put the Claret Jug back on the line after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020 event.

No player has retained their title at the Kent links since Harry Vardon in 1899 and this week is the 15th time the course has hosted, but for Lowry it is the whole experience of returning to the tournament as defending champion that is motivating him.

"There's a lot of things that I've got to play for this week other than defending the trophy," he said.

"It's a bit of everything. It's being announced on the first tee as defending champion. I'll be happy obviously to get that tee shot away, and if you've seen the rough down the first hole, I'll be happy if it's on the fairway.

"I'm kind of going into this week with an open mind. I'm really looking forward to the week ahead, and I'm looking forward to playing in The Open Championship, because we did miss it last year.

"Coming to play in The Open Championship, whether you're defending or not, is exciting because it's such a big event.

"It's always great to play in The Open. I said one of the coolest things about being The Open champion is I get to play in it for years. I have a lot more left, which is obviously really cool. This is one of them."

Lowry was a hugely popular winner on the island of Ireland last time out and he holds special memories of that triumph, which he sealed by a six-shot margin over Tommy Fleetwood.

"I look back on Portrush with incredible memories and fond memories and something that I'll have no matter what I do for the rest of my career. I'll always have that," he said.

Prior to his Portrush triumph, Lowry had missed the cut in four successive outings at golf's oldest major for a combined score of 23 over par across those eight rounds. 

His success two years ago was founded on stunningly accurate approach play, which saw Lowry hit 79.2 per cent of greens in regulation, putting him out ahead of the field.

Having been scrapped last year due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the Ballon d'Or returns in 2021.

With Euro 2020 and the Copa America rescheduled for this year, the stars of Europe and South America had the chance to use those tournaments as a springboard towards claiming the game's top individual prize.

Italy and Argentina lifted the respective trophies at the weekend, with the Azzurri beating England in a penalty shoot-out and La Albiceleste seeing off bitter rivals Brazil at the Maracana to win the Copa for the first time since 1993.

Stats Perform has looked at 13 of the leading candidates to feature at either tournament to determine how their chances look heading into the new season.

Jorginho

Before Euro 2020, N'Golo Kante was the Chelsea midfielder seen to be within the best shot of scooping individual honours at the end of 2021, but a month on it's Jorginho who is the European champion at club and international level.

While he has perhaps been underappreciated or misunderstood at times with Chelsea, perhaps supporters will see him in a new light after playing a vital role in Italy's success as their deep-lying playmaker.

Robert Lewandowski

It's widely accepted that, had the award been handed out last year, it would have gone to Robert Lewandowksi, the man whose 55 goals in 47 games delivered Bayern the treble.

How do you follow that? Well, he scored 41 times in the Bundesliga alone in 2020-21, breaking Gerd Muller's 49-year-old single-season record. Lewandowski's Ballon d'Or hopes arguably aren't any worse now than before the Euros as no one will have expected Paulo Sousa's men to make much of an impact. He got three goals in as many games and was only out-scored by six players, which is a solid achievement.

 

Marco Verratti

Had he not been injured for the first two games of Euro 2020, there's every possibility it would have been Verratti being crowned as player of the tournament, with the Paris Saint-Germain star arguably the player who embodies the qualities of Roberto Mancini's transformed Italy side more than any other.

Not only did he create more chances than anyone else at Euro 2020 (14), but averaged more touches (114.5) than anyone, played the fourth-most passes (87.1) and ranked third for tackles (four) per 90 minutes among all players to have featured for at least 125 minutes. His all-action excellence set the tone for the Azzurri's vibrant and, ultimately, successful football.

 

N'Golo Kante

Kante inspired Chelsea to Champions League glory, named man of the match in both legs of the semi-final versus Real Madrid and the final against Manchester City.

But France's last-16 elimination by Switzerland will have done little to boost his chances, with Paul Pogba rather than Kante the standout figure for Les Bleus. While a nomination is almost a certainty, taking the gong home now looks beyond the all-action midfielder.

Kevin De Bruyne

A second successive PFA Players' Player of the Year award for Kevin De Bruyne came after another standout season for Manchester City in which he won the Premier League and EFL Cup.

His exceptional quality was further underlined by the fact only Verratti created more chances than him over the course of the tournament, an impressive feat given he started the tournament late due to injury and then had to play through another fitness issue in Belgium's final match, but that's unlikely to be enough to earn him the award.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Generally, the player considered to be the best at a major international competition has a pretty good chance of winning further accolades, so in that case Donnarumma may have a reasonable opportunity after UEFA crowned him Euro 2020's Player of the Tournament.

Statistically there were numerous goalkeepers who were more important than him to their respective teams given he technically didn't prevent any goals according to Opta's xGOT metric – Tomas Vaclik's prevented a tournament-high 2.5. Nevertheless, Donnarumma wasn't guilty of any drops or errors that led to shots, and made crucial saves across two penalty shoot-outs, including a couple in the final.

 

Harry Kane

Another star performer in 2020-21 to end the season empty-handed, Harry Kane finished top for goals (23) and assists (14) in the Premier League despite Tottenham finishing seventh.

A slow start to Euro 2020 followed, although Kane scored four times in the knockout phase as he played a key role in England's journey to the final. But when it mattered most he failed to have a single touch in the Italy penalty area. A talismanic performance in the showpiece may have put him firmly in the running, but it's difficult to see him being a major contender now.

Romelu Lukaku

The best player in Serie A as Inter ended an 11-year wait to win the title, Romelu Lukaku enjoyed the best season of his career, with 41 direct goal involvements in 44 appearances.

He certainly cannot be accused of failing to deliver for Belgium given he scored four times, but they came up short against Italy in the quarter-finals, with a partially injured De Bruyne unable to truly weave his magic. Lukaku's influence upon Inter shouldn't be overlooked, but the achievements of others on the international stage may overshadow his own.

Lionel Messi

The winner of the previous award in 2019 – the sixth of his astonishing career – Lionel Messi amazingly plundered 28 goals and had nine assists for Barcelona from January 1 onwards.

It wasn't enough to win Barca the LaLiga title, but it did put him right in the mix and he followed that up with a starring role in Argentina's Copa triumph, the first senior international trophy of his career. Given his lack of success with La Albiceleste was arguably the final barrier to clear in his career, a Ballon d'Or will surely follow later this year as he led Lionel Scaloni's men with four goals (joint-most) and five assists (the most).

 

Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain lost their Ligue 1 title to Lille and could not reach back-to-back Champions League finals, which seems incredible given Kylian Mbappe managed 42 goals and 11 assists in just 47 appearances.

Departing Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick this year said there was no question Mbappe would win the Ballon d'Or one day, but it probably won't be in 2021. He was one of the biggest disappointments at Euro 2020, failing to score once despite his chances having an accumulative xG value of 2.02 – that under-performance was second-worst to Gerard Moreno (3.32).

Neymar

Even Neymar would admit he only had an outside chance of winning this year's Ballon d'Or ahead of the Copa America, his 17 goals and eight assists in 2020-21 a modest return for the world's most expensive footballer.

While his performances with Brazil would see him included in most people's team of the tournament, he wasn't dependable in front of goal, his one non-penalty strike coming from 5.3 xG, an under-performance unmatched by anyone in the tournament. He'll have to wait a bit longer for the prize he supposedly craves above all others.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Juventus may have lost their grip on Serie A, but Cristiano Ronaldo still finished as top goalscorer (with 29), and they won the Supercoppa Italiana and Coppa Italia.

He definitely didn't do his chances any harm as he won the Golden Boot for most goals (five) – beating Patrik Schick by virtue of having more assists – after becoming the Euros' all-time leading scorer (11) and levelling Ali Daei's world-record haul of 109 international goals, but Portugal's failure to get beyond the last 16 won't help.

 

Luis Suarez

Discarded by Barcelona for being past his usefulness, Luis Suarez responded with 21 goals in 32 games to propel Atletico Madrid to a first league title since 2013-14.

But he could only muster one goal at the Copa America as he and Uruguay had a minimal impact, meaning it'll take something special for Suarez to be a major candidate at the end of the year.

Bayern Munich have confirmed left-back Alphonso Davies is facing a spell on the sidelines after sustaining an injury while on international duty with Canada.

The 20-year-old damaged the lateral collateral ligament in his left ankle during training last week and was subsequently ruled out of Canada's upcoming Gold Cup campaign.

Davies has returned to the Allianz Arena for treatment, but it is not yet known how long he will be out of action, although surgery is not required.

"Alphonso Davies faces a period on the sidelines at FC Bayern," a statement on the German club's official website read on Monday.

"The 20-year-old suffered an LCL tear to his left ankle in Canada's build-up to the Gold Cup. Davies has now returned to Munich for rehab. 

"The injury will be managed without invasive treatment."

Davies also missed six weeks of last season with an ankle injury that restricted him to 35 appearances for Bayern in all competitions.

He led defenders in the German top flight last season for dribbles completed per 90 minutes (3.21) – among those to have played at least twice.

However, Bayern won nine, drew three and lost none of the 12 Bundesliga games they started without Davies in 2020-21.

The German champions, now coached by Julian Nagelsmann, could also be without fellow left-sided defender Lucas Hernandez for the start of the new season.

Hernandez underwent surgery last week after tearing the medial meniscus of his left knee during France's 2-2 draw with Portugal at Euro 2020, ruling him out "for a few weeks".

Bayern, who saw David Alaba join Real Madrid on a free transfer in May, begin their title defence away to Borussia Monchengladbach on August 13.

Lionel Messi finally secured his holy grail this weekend as Argentina claimed a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Brazil at the Maracana to lift the Copa America.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has cleaned up time and again with club side Barcelona but major honours at international level had repeatedly proved elusive.

Germany beat the Albiceleste 1-0 after extra time in the 2014 World Cup final, after which Messi was named player of the tournament – a much disputed award given he appeared to be shadow of himself during the closing knockout stages.

The same could not be said when the 34-year-old lifted the individual gong in Rio. Although he was not Argentina's standout performer in the final, Messi was a man on a mission who would not be denied throughout the competition.

Here, we take a game-by-game look at how the great man inspired a long-awaited triumph.

 

Group stage: Argentina 1-1 Chile

Messi got an early shot at the team who inflicted Copa heartache upon Argentina during the 2015 and 2016 final penalty shoot-outs and at times it felt like he was playing them by himself.

He opened the scoring with a stunning free-kick and his seven shots, three on target, two blocked and four chances created were the most of any Argentina player, as were his 66 touches and 10 crosses.

A rash challenge from Nicolas Tagliafico resulted in a Chile penalty before the hour, with Eduardo Vargas converting on the rebound after Emiliano Martinez saved from Arturo Vidal. A timely reminder that Messi would not quite be able to do this all alone.

Group stage: Argentina 1-0 Uruguay

From a short corner, Messi unfurled a trademark slow-slow-quick dribble to engineer space for the cross from which Guido Rodriguez scored the only goal.

Although less immediately visible than in the Chile match, Messi showcased his overall mastery of the game. He completed 40 of 47 passes, with 40 of them coming in the opposition half as he relentlessly poked and prodded at Uruguay.

His 78 touches were the joint-most by an Argentinian alongside Rodrigo de Paul and he contested 24 duels, winning 62.5 per cent. Left-back Marcos Acuna contested the next most duels with 11.

 

Group stage: Argentina 1-0 Paraguay

This was the only game in the build-up to the final where Messi was unable to provide either a goal or an assist amid a cagey affair of few chances.

Angel Di Maria unfurled a dreamy reverse pass for Papu Gomez to dink home a cute early finish – both pieces of skill that would have looked at home emanating from Messi's boots.

The man himself managed three shots with two on target and was fouled five times, more than any of his team-mates. He completed 34 of 41 passes, made 73 touches (second to right-back Nahuel Molina with 75) and won 70.6 per cent of a team-high 17 duels.

Group stage: Bolivia 1-4 Argentina

Bolivia left the competition with four defeats from as many outings and Messi and Argentina went to town on the Group A whipping boys.

The number 10 set up Gomez's opener and scored twice himself, the first from the penalty spot. His five shots and four on target led the way for Argentina.

Messi had 94 touches – fewer than strike partner Lautaro Martinez, German Pazzella and Acuna, by way of underlining how much Lionel Scaloni's men dominated the ball. Of his 75 passes, 62 came in the Bolivia half.

Quarter-final: Argentina 3-0 Ecuador

By the first knockout round, Argentina and Messi had hit their stride. He set up goals for De Paul and Martinez before getting in on the act in injury time.

Overall, Messi had seven shots with four blocked and created five chances.

His number of passes dropped down to 26, with 19 completed. Of those, 22 were in the opposition half, showing Messi zeroing in his efforts in the danger areas near the opposition goal.

 

Semi-final: Argentina 1-1 Colombia (Argentina won 3-2 on penalties)

Repeating a theme from the group stage, Messi got the assist for Martinez's early breakthrough before fading as Luis Diaz equalised after half-time.

Messi converted his spot-kick, as Emiliano Martinez was the hero with three shoot-out saves.

In open play, the superstar forward's three shots, three blocked shots and four key passes were the most of any Argentina player, as were his 68 touches, 26 duels (57.7 per cent success) and five fouls won. Messi attempted eight crosses, with none of his team-mates sending in more than one.

Final: Argentina 1-0 Brazil

After carrying his country on his back for chunks of this tournament and through good times and bad over the past decade, perhaps it was finally Messi's time to be hoisted aloft by those around him.

His two key passes were the most by any Albiceleste player, as were 40 passes made and 33 completed.

But Messi was confined to the margins, with De Paul's stunning long pass and Di Maria's cool lob over Ederson enough for long-desired glory.

Harry Kane may already be looking ahead to next year's World Cup with England but the Tottenham striker's short-term targets are less clear amid uncertainty over his club future.

The England captain suffered heartbreak with his team-mates on Sunday, the Three Lions losing to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley following a 1-1 draw at the end of extra time.

Luke Shaw gave the hosts the lead inside two minutes as he scored the fastest-ever goal in a European Championship final, only for Leonardo Bonucci to hit back for the Azzurri in the second half.

Kane converted his penalty in the shoot-out, but he otherwise endured a quiet match as he failed to have a single touch of the ball inside the opposition box. Indeed, the 27-year-old did not have a shot or create any chances for his team-mates for only the second time in his 61 senior international appearances.

However, Kane finished the tournament with four goals – only Cristiano Ronaldo and Patrik Schick (five each) managed more – to draw level with Gary Lineker as his nation's leading scorer at major tournaments.

While disappointed to fall at the final hurdle, the prolific striker is determined to push on at Qatar 2022.

"Last night hurts. It'll hurt for a long time. But we've come so far and broken down so many barriers that this is not the end," he posted on his Twitter account on Monday. 

"We win together, lose together and will regroup together for the World Cup. Thanks for all your support this summer."

It remains to be seen whether Kane will still be a Tottenham player come the time the next World Cup begins, though. He revealed last week he had yet to speak to new boss Nuno Espirito Santo, who was named as Jose Mourinho's permanent successor on June 30.

Fabio Paratici, now managing director at the Premier League club, also stressed last week that Spurs have no intention of selling the "special player" while he has three years to run on his contract.

"Of course, as a player you want to be wanted, you want to feel like you're loved, which I do," Kane said when asked about his Tottenham future.

"I haven't had the chance to talk to any of these people yet. I'm sure we'll get to know each other after the Euros, have a phone call or two once I get a week or two of holiday."

Keeping hold of Kane will be the top priority for Paratici and Nuno, the former Leicester City loanee having finished as the Premier League's top scorer with 23 goals in 2020-21.

Kane also set up 14 goals to become only the second player in the Premier League era to top the charts for both goals and assists, the other being Andy Cole for Newcastle United in 1993-94.

Manchester City are rumoured to have already had a big-money offer knocked back by Tottenham, while Manchester United have also been linked.

Tottenham's players not involved in international action over the past month returned to training last week ahead of their first pre-season friendly with Leyton Orient on Saturday.

Spurs are also set to take on Colchester United, MK Dons, Chelsea and Arsenal before their Premier League opener with Manchester City on August 15.

Italy ended their 53-year wait for a second European Championship crown with victory over England in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

Leonardo Bonucci cancelled out an early Luke Shaw goal to take the game to extra time and then penalties, which the Azzurri edged 3-2 to inflict heartbreak on hosts England.

Italy's triumph was deserved on the basis of the qualifying campaign and the tournament itself; Roberto Mancini's side have now gone 34 games unbeaten in all competitions.

England can also be proud of their run, and it is perhaps no surprise that the two finalists dominate Stats Perform's best XI of the tournament.

Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo is also included in our Opta data-driven side, along with players from Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

 

Goalkeeper: Yann Sommer (Switzerland)

Gianluigi Donnarumma may have been named UEFA's Player of the Tournament for his penalty shoot-out heroics against Spain and Italy, but Sommer gets the nod after enjoying an incredible tournament.

The Swiss goalkeeper saved a Kylian Mbappe penalty in his side's shoot-out win against France in the last 16 and made a tournament-high 21 saves in total, 10 of those coming in the eventual defeat to Spain on penalties in the quarter-finals.

 

Right-back: Denzel Dumfries (Netherlands)

Dumfries' reputation was certainly enhanced during Euro 2020, even if the Netherlands were sent packing by the Czech Republic at the last-16 stage.

He became just the second ever Netherlands player, after Ruud van Nistelrooy, to score in his first two European Championship appearances, while also helping his side to a couple of clean sheets in his four outings.

Centre-back: Leonardo Bonucci (Italy)

Juventus defender Bonucci was a rock at the heart of Italy's defence, particularly in the quarter-finals when frustrating Belgium's plethora of attackers.

No defender made more interceptions than the 34-year-old (12, level with Ukraine's Mykola Matvienko), and it was his bundled finish that drew his country level against England in the final.

Centre-back: John Stones (England)

England conceded just two goals all tournament, with only one of those coming in open play. A large part of that was down to ever-present defender Stones, who carried his club form with Manchester City onto the international stage.

Stones won 20 aerial challenges – the joint-second most of any defender in the competition, one behind Harry Maguire – and his 447 successful passes placed him behind only Jordi Alba (458) and club-mate Aymeric Laporte (644).

Left-back: Luke Shaw (England)

Shaw was left out for England's opening game against Croatia, but the full-back soon made himself a consistent presence. He was even compared to the great Roberto Carlos after starring with two assists against Ukraine in the quarter-finals.

The Manchester United defender provided three assists in total and netted the fastest-ever goal in a European Championship final with his volley against Italy. Those four goal involvements were bettered only by Patrik Schick (five) and Ronaldo (six).

 

Central midfield: Marco Verratti (Italy)

The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder was a major fitness doubt for the tournament and sat out Italy's first two matches, but boy did he make an impact in the following five games.

Since his first game against Wales on June 20, all-rounder Verratti ranked first among all midfielders at Euro 2020 for chances created (14), passes completed (388), progressive carries (59), tackles (18) and recoveries of possession (37).

Central midfield: Pedri (Spain)

A number of young players enjoyed a breakthrough tournament at this edition of the Euros, arguably none more so than Barcelona superstar in the making Pedri, who made more passes in the opposing half (348) than any other player at the Euros.

He became the second European player to start as many as five games at the age of 18 or below in major tournament history, after Northern Ireland's Norman Whiteside. Proving age is just a number, Pedri completed all 55 of his passes in regular time in the semi-final loss to Italy.

Right wing: Federico Chiesa (Italy)

Versatile wide player Chiesa was always going to be one to watch at the Euros, having stepped up on the big occasions for Juventus last season with goals in key matches, including their Coppa Italia triumph against Atalanta.

He scored Italy's extra-time opener in their last-16 win against Austria and put his side ahead against Spain in the semi-finals. He was not afraid to shoot – only three others did so on more occasions – and was arguably Italy's most dangerous player in the final.

Attacking midfield: Patrik Schick (Czech Republic)

Schick not only scored the joint-most goals, his five strikes putting him level with Ronaldo, but he was responsible for surely the most memorable one of the lot - a 49.7-yard lob against Scotland, the furthest ever distance a goal has been scored at a European Championships.

The Bayer Leverkusen forward found the net in all but one of his side's games, with three of his goals coming from open play, compared to just two for Golden Boot winner Ronaldo.

 

Left wing: Raheem Sterling (England)

England's run to the final would not have been possible if not for the fine form of Sterling, the Manchester City winger responsible for his side's first three goals in the competition.

That includes winning strikes against Croatia and the Czech Republic in the group stage, followed by the opener against Germany in the last 16, before assisting Kane's early goal against Ukraine. Even when not scoring he was a real threat, leading the way with 20 dribbles completed – four more than next player on the list in Frenkie de Jong.

Centre-forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Even though it was far from a vintage tournament for Ronaldo and dethroned champions Portugal, the Juventus superstar still claimed the Golden Boot accolade thanks to having one assist more than fellow five-goal forward Schick.

Ronaldo's 72 minutes per goal was the best return of any player to have played at least three times in the tournament. His haul also moved him level with Iran great Ali Daei as the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football with 109, a record that he will get a chance to break later this year.

 

Italy were crowned European Championship winners for a second time after beating England 3-2 on penalties in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

The Azzurri fell behind to Luke Shaw's record-breaking strike inside two minutes, but Leonardo Bonucci hit back and the contest finished 1-1 at the end of 120 minutes.

Roberto Mancini's men held their nerve in London to stretch their unbeaten run to 34 matches and end their 53-year wait to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy – the longest-ever gap between championships in the tournament by a single nation, surpassing Spain's 44-year wait from 1964 to 2008. 

Only Germany (seven) have won more major titles among European sides than the six Italy have now managed, having also lifted the World Cup on four occasions.

On the back of another dramatic clash at Wembley, and the end of a thrilling tournament, Stats Perform looks at the key takeaways from Sunday's action.

Shaw gets England off to fast start

Shaw got on the end of a Kieran Trippier cross to volley England into the lead with one minute and 57 seconds on the clock, surpassing ​Chus Pereda for Spain against the Soviet Union in 1964 (05:04) as the fastest goal in a European Championship final.

That was the third goal scored in the opening two minutes at Euro 2020, which is as many as the previous 15 editions of the tournament combined.

Shaw's strike was also England's fastest ever in a Euros match, 17 seconds quicker than Alan Shearer's effort against Germany in 1996.

Bonucci inspires Italy comeback

England did not manage another attempt of any note until Harry Maguire headed off target in the 56th minute, by which time Italy had grabbed a foothold in the match.

Having trailed for 65 minutes at Wembley – compared to the 44 minutes they were behind in total during their previous 33 unbeaten matches – the Azzurri levelled up through Bonucci's close-range finish.

At the age of 34 years and 71 days, Bonucci is the oldest player ever to score in a Euros final, and the second-oldest ever for a European side at a major tournament after Nils Liedholm for Sweden against Brazil at the 1958 World Cup (35y 264d).

 

A familiar outcome at Wembley

With nothing to separate the sides in the remainder of normal time, this became the third major tournament final at Wembley  – along with the 1966 World Cup and Euro 96 – to go to extra-time.

Of England's last 10 major tournament games that went to extra-time before Sunday, eight went to a penalty shoot-out. So that proved for a ninth time in a row, with neither side showing enough quality to find a winner in the additional 30 minutes.

A dramatic shootout was eventually settled by Gianluigi Donnarumma keeping out Bukayo Saka's penalty, making Italy just the second side ever to win two shoot-outs at a single edition of the Euros, having also gone the distance against Spain in the semis.

England have now won just two of their nine major tournament penalty shoot-outs, the lowest ratio of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.

The Phoenix Suns received a "tough lesson" in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Milwaukee Bucks, but head coach Monty Williams expects his players to bounce back from the defeat.

Having won the opening two games of the best-of-seven series in Phoenix, the Suns went down 120-100 to a determined Milwaukee team on Sunday. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo posted 41 points - making him the first player to reach 40 in back-to-back outings in the NBA Finals since LeBron James in 2016 - but it was far from a one-man show for the Bucks, as four other players also reached double digits.

Williams had warned his team to expect a backlash from their opponents, whose aggressive approach - Milwaukee had 13 offensive rebounds and attempted 26 free throws - helped spark life into the battle to decide the identity of this season's NBA champions.

"There's a lot of ways you can spin it, but they played with a great deal of aggression for longer stretches than we did," Williams told the media.

"We knew it was coming. We did not respond to it well tonight, especially in the second and third quarters.

"The turnovers certainly hurt us, points in the paint, everything we have been talking about the whole series. So it was a tough lesson for us to learn.

"You know what was coming, but just didn't do enough consistently to withstand their attacking the paint, whether it was penetration, offensive rebounding.

"We gave them so many possessions, so we lost a shot and then they scored off of it. It was a double whammy."

He added: "I think we know that we have to play with an unreal amount of aggression and energy for 48 minutes. That's the deal. All of our guys know that we didn't.

"We have had this happen to us before in the playoffs, and so I expect our guys to bounce back."

Chris Paul had 19 points for Phoenix and Deandre Ayton contributed 18 before running into foul trouble, restricting the center to just 24 minutes of action. Without him, Phoenix struggled to get defensive stops.

"He's a big part of our team, especially he's the anchor of our defense," Paul, who also had nine assists but landed just one of his four three-point attempts, said about Ayton.

"I feel like any team would love for him not to be on court offensively and defensively. So, yeah, we got to protect him better and make sure that we're showing that wall."

It was not just Paul who struggled from long range for the Suns, with the visiting team making just nine of their 31 attempts from beyond the arc for a success rate of 29 per cent.

The Suns had not trailed by more than seven at the half in the playoffs prior to Game 3, when the deficit stood at 15 following a dominant second quarter by the Bucks.

Game 4 takes place in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

"I said after last game, this team is not going to give in," Suns guard Devin Booker told the media.

"They're going to keep playing all the way through, so we have to bring that same effort that we had in the first two games and I think we'll be in good shape."

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer praised Giannis Antetokounmpo for his aggressive mindset after he starred in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Antetokounmpo posted 41 points to see the Bucks past the Phoenix Suns 120-100 on Sunday, becoming the first player to score 40-plus points in back-to-back NBA Finals games since LeBron James in 2016.

The win was crucial for the Bucks, who now trail the Suns 2-1, and Budenholzer lauded Antetokounmpo's performance.

"He's just doing whatever it takes to help his team, to help us. He's in an aggressive mindset. He always plays that way," he told a news conference.

"But I thought he played with the pass well. He made some great reads, found guys, played against the zone.

"He just did a little bit of everything. Offensive boards, putbacks. We need a lot from him and that's what he does."

While Antetokounmpo starred, the Bucks also had Jrue Holiday (21), Khris Middleton (18), Brook Lopez (11) and Bobby Portis (11) in double digits for points.

Antetokounmpo also finished with 13 rebounds and six assists and Budenholzer said the star's ability to bring his team-mates into games was crucial.

"I think that's when we are at our best, when Giannis is at his best, it's a little bit of both," he said.

"He's a great playmaker, screener, passer and he does so many great things.

"I think when he's conscious of doing a little bit of everything, he's very capable and that's when he's at his best."

Game 4 of the series is in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's 41-point outing saw the Milwaukee Bucks to an important 120-100 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

With the Bucks trailing 2-0, they needed a response at home at Fiserv Forum and Antetokounmpo helped them deliver.

Antetokounmpo finished with 41 points on 14-of-23 shooting, along with 13 rebounds and six assists.

He was the first player to score 40-plus points in back-to-back NBA Finals games since LeBron James in 2016.

The dominant win halved the Suns' series lead ahead of Game 4 in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

Jrue Holiday (21), Khris Middleton (18), Brook Lopez (11) and Bobby Portis (11) also had double digits in points for the Bucks.

Milwaukee put together powerful runs to finish the second and third quarters which set up their win.

They went 16-3 to finish the first half and 16-0 to end the third quarter.

The 15-point deficit marked the first time in these playoffs the Suns had trailed by more than seven at half-time.

Phoenix were unable to get much going as Chris Paul finished with 19 points, while Devin Booker was three-of-14 from the field for his 10 points.

Cam Johnson had 14 points off the bench for the Suns, including a huge dunk in the third quarter.

Playing alongside Gianluigi Donnarumma is similar to playing with Gianluigi Buffon, according to Leonardo Bonucci, one of Italy's Euro 2020 heroes.

Donnarumma saved two penalties in a 3-2 shootout success over England in the final on Sunday, as Italy became European champions for the second time after a 1-1 draw at Wembley.

The 22-year-old, who is set to join Paris Saint-Germain following the expiration of his Milan contract, denied Jadon Sancho before keeping out Bukayo Saka's penalty, which the Arsenal teenager needed to convert to keep England's hopes alive.

It sent the Wembley crowd from euphoria to despondency, with Jordan Pickford having just kept England in it with his second save of the shootout – the Everton goalkeeper parrying Jorginho's effort onto the post.

Italy have now won six major international tournaments, while they became the first team to win two shootouts in the same edition of a European Championship.

Donnarumma, meanwhile, has won all five of the shootouts he has been involved in with club and country so far in his career, and Bonucci, who scored the equalising goal to cancel out Luke Shaw's opener, compared the youngster to an Azzurri legend.

"I was lucky because I played with Gianluigi Buffon, now I play with Gigi Donnarumma – it is the same!" Bonucci told ITV Sport.

Along with fellow veteran campaigner Giorgio Chiellini, who at 36 years and 331 days is now the third-oldest player to appear in a European Championship final, Bonucci put in a towering display at the back for Italy.

Kept under wraps by Italy's wily defenders, England talisman Harry Kane failed to muster a shot or create a goal-scoring chance for only the second time in his 61 appearances for the Three Lions.

In the build-up to Sunday's showdown, Chiellini revealed Italy's squad were puzzled when Roberto Mancini outlined his intention to win Euro 2020 upon taking charge three years ago, but the Azzurri have been a joy to watch at the tournament and ultimately deserved their triumph, even if it came the hard way. Indeed, Shaw's opener was the quickest goal scored in a European Championship final.

"Anything is possible," added Bonucci, who became Italy's outright top appearance maker at the European Championship with what was his 18th game in the competition.

"England scored after two minutes, it was difficult to ask, all of the fans give their energy into the battle. It was important to be calm, we start to play, play, play and play. We were calm at the end of the first half, we talked altogether – we have to play, play, play. We find the right pass, find the right shot, this is the way to win.

"History. It is a dream come true. We feel some magic when we started this stage. We feel inside to come to Wembley, it is so difficult. We are more than happy. We see the image of [Fabio] Cannavaro holding up the World Cup – we are lucky."

Gareth Southgate acknowledged it was a "gamble" to bring on substitutes Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to take penalties in the Euro 2020 final.

England suffered a 3-2 defeat to Italy in the shootout, after the match finished 1-1, with Rashford striking the post before Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma saved from Sancho and Bukayo Saka.

England have won just 22 per cent (two out of nine) of their major tournament shootouts, the lowest ratio of any European nation to have been involved in three or more.

When asked if Rashford and Sancho, both brought off the bench in extra-time a few minutes before the shootout, might have been "cold", Southgate said the decision was one fraught with danger.

"That is the risk you run but they have been the best in the lead in, and to throw all those attacking players on you have to do it late," he told ITV.

"You have got to have balance to the team. You can't just throw on attacking players earlier, or you lose your shape and don't have a foothold in the game.

"It was a gamble but if we gambled earlier in the game, we maybe lose the game in extra time. I chose the guys to take the kicks."

Southgate revealed England's order for the penalty kicks had already been decided in advance of the Wembley final, and said the decision to let Saka take one was his alone.

He added: "It's my decision to give him that penalty so that is totally my responsibility. Not his. 

"The same with Marcus or Jadon. We work together, worked through them in training, that was the order that we came to.

"I said afterwards that nobody was on their own in that situation [missing a penalty]. 

"We decided to make the changes late in the game and we lose together as a team. The players have been tight throughout and that's how it will stay."

Southgate said he was proud of England's overall display in the tournament although felt they were poor in possession in the final.

"In the end we were not quite able to see the game through in normal time and Italy showed the outstanding team they are with 30 plus games unbeaten," he explained.

"Our players have to be proud of themselves. Every one of them has been exceptional. First time we have to a final and we are very disappointed not go on a step further.

"Italy have some outstanding players but we didn't keep the ball well enough in that initial period in the second half. We changed the shape to get more of a grip. It was a lack of composure in possession which turned the game."

England will now switch their focus to next year's World Cup in Qatar, although Southgate needs time to let the wounds heal from this defeat.

"It's hard to reflect at this moment because the disappointment is enormous for all us," he said.

"The players have done us proud. The way the nation have got behind us. I know tonight has burst the balloon. But I hope everyone remembers what this group has given them.

"We have given everyone some fantastic nights and we wanted to give them one more and came close to having done that. It's hard for me to put that into words at the moment.

"At this moment it is hard to look that far ahead. This was a wonderful opportunity and we need let that sink in before thinking about Qatar."

In the 120th minute of the Euro 2020 final, Giorgio Chiellini decided it was time to race from his defensive station and give Italy a dashing overlap option on the left wing.

He does what he wants. And if this was his last stand for Italy, we witnessed classic Chiellini. What a captain: a nightmare to play against, a dream as a team-mate.

Glory went to his goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, for those saves from Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka in the shootout, but Italy's success was founded on that Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci axis in the heart of defence.

When Donnarumma pushed away 19-year-old Saka's spot-kick to seal victory, Chiellini roared and grabbed the nearest man in a blue shirt, Manuel Locatelli getting the bear hug.

Moments later he went across to Harry Kane and attempted to console the England skipper, a player whose threat had been utterly blunted by the Italian defence.

The statistics show that Chiellini made just one tackle on the night, but he produced six clearances – four more than any other Italy player – and three interceptions, won more aerial duels (7) than anyone in blue and completed 95.7 per cent of his 115 passes. Just wow.

He turns 37 next month, but was indefatigable here, driving on his team throughout, helping the team that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup become European champions.

The veteran Juventus star retired from international football when Italy failed to qualify for that World Cup, but soon rowed back on that decision. This might be the perfect way to bow out, having guided the Azzurri through grim times and on to triumph.

 

It is 34 games unbeaten now for them, Roberto Mancini's team worthy kings of the continent. Wembley was perhaps less than a third full by the time Chiellini got to lift the trophy, having emptied of most England supporters.

Football's come home to Rome. Chiellini had tears in his eyes as he lifted the trophy, and doubtless it was the same for millions of Italians at home, the first European country to truly feel the horrors of the COVID-19 crisis last spring being given enormous cause for national celebration.

Italy have never lost against England at a major tournament, but when Luke Shaw fired Gareth Southgate's men inside two minutes the locals sensed this time it might be different.

Yet Bonucci became the oldest player to score in a European Championship final as Italian pressure told midway through the second half, tucking in the rebound after Jordan Pickford pushed Marco Verratti's header against the left post.

It had felt that England, with their early lead, were trying to Catenaccio the life out of the Azzurri, beat them at their own game.

Italy had six shots in the first half to England's one. Jorginho, who completed just five passes in the Spain half during Tuesday's semi-final, had 27 such balls that found blue shirts in the first half here.

There was freedom for Italy to play, and even when they lost livewire Federico Chiesa to an ankle injury they continued to dominate and swarm, leading the shot court 14-4 at the 90-minute mark.

In stoppage time at the end of that 90, Chiellini cynically grabbed the shirt of Saka as the teenager looked to burst down the right. Because of course he did. He had the wit to swallow a yellow card for the greater good. A professional's 'professional foul'.

Into the extra half hour and Chiellini made an excellent block to turn Raheem Sterling's cross out for a corner.

Soon afterwards, just as Sterling looked set to shoot or perhaps deliver a killer pass across goal, out stretched a foot from Chiellini to solve Italy's latest problem.

Will Roberto Mancini try to keep him on for the World Cup campaign? A conversation for another day, probably.

 

This was a night of joy for Italy, and what a moment for Mancini, too.

Italy's head coach knows all about Wembley heartbreak, having been on the Sampdoria team that lost 1-0 to Barcelona under the old stadium's twin towers in the 1992 European Cup final, when Gianluca Vialli's misses proved so costly.

Mancini's Manchester City team were dealt a stunning defeat at the rebuilt stadium by Wigan Athletic in the 2013 FA Cup final, with the Italian sacked days later.

He has known magical moments too, delivering City's first trophy for 35 years in the 2011 FA Cup final with a 1-0 win over Stoke City. The semi-final win over Manchester United that year, also at Wembley, was perhaps far more important in terms of the shift of power in English football.

And then Wembley has served Italy well in this tournament, the tense win over Austria, the penalty shoot-out victory over Spain in the semi-finals, and now this latest spot-kicks success.

Chiellini, the oldest player to start as captain in a European Championship final at 36 years and 331 days, as intimidating as a centre-back can be, has been a rollicking thorn in the side of the opposition.

And after all those Scudetto triumphs in the nine-in-a-row Juventus side, Chiellini is a champion with Italy. An outlaw legitimised by his nation's finest footballing hour in many a year.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.