Italy are the most formidable of opponents. They don’t seem to be able to lose at the moment. They haven’t lost that much in the past either, and they’ve had plenty of cup finals to practice in. By contrast the Three Lions, despite being on home soil, are in the relatively uncharted territory of a major tournament final.
With a few days to go until Italy and England’s date with destiny, there are still a number of kit questions to resolve. What shirts will the teams actually wear? What about the shorts? Are there any kit omens to consider before the Euro 2020 final?
We’ve got you covered.
1. The best final kit matchup since Euro 2000
Kit matchups have been pedestrian at best in most of the European Championship finals I can remember. In fact, when looking back I’d argue the Italy home shirt (if the team wear it) will be the best shirt we’ve seen since the classic Euro 2000 final. That final was an exhibition of great kit design, with Italy donning the era-defining Kappa Kombat range and France pulling out a typically strong adidas design with the all-important horizontal red line.
You could make a case for Portugal’s memorable Total 90 shirt in 2004, which was perhaps the best use of the popular template, and other shirts like Germany ‘08 and Spain ‘12 were also above average, but it's not often you get to see some of the best shirts of a tournament actually making it to the final.
It's been a long time since we had a truly great shirt in a Euros final, I'd argue as long as 21 years.
Of course, any good kit matchup requires both teams to be on their game, and England are more than worthy adversaries to Italy’s modern classic. As we’ll discuss later on, the home shirt has grown and grown into the tournament, and it’s pleasing to see the best numbers of Euro 2020 (England) make it to the final.
2. The Renaissance, realised
Though I’ve talked up the Italy home shirt, there’s an intriguing possibility which I can’t help thinking about that has nothing to do with the home. It doesn’t involve the controversial away design, either.
Just imagine if Italy were keeping this in their back pockets in case they reached the final.
It would be pure, sporting drama to see them walk out at Wembley on Sunday in this shirt. The Renaissance, realised.
When Italy walk out at Wembley on Sunday, I want them to be wearing their resplendent dark green third shirt.
When the Italy third shirt was released back in October 2019, the narrative was all around the Renaissance. The surprising but beautiful green design was a sign of the team making a clean break from the disastrous failings of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign; a new hope carried forward by an exciting young team.
Italy have more than matched that narrative on the pitch, evolving quickly into a force to be reckoned with. An appearance of the green third shirt would be highly unorthodox, especially given that Italy are the designated home team for the final and have worn blue in almost every World Cup or Euros final they’ve played in, but were they to wear the green shirt and then win, it would cap off one of the most remarkable shirt story arcs we've ever see.
The Italy home shirt is of course also laden with renaissance themes, so we’d still have that storyline to a degree, but I’m greedy and want the full course.
3. England try to replicate Italy and Germany
All signs point towards a home vs home showdown, and were England to win wearing their white home they’ll become the first team since Italy in 2006 to win a major tournament having worn their home kit in every game. The last team to win a Euros in just their home was Germany in 1996, who lifted the trophy wearing a white shirt at Wembley…
It’s been a surprisingly damp tournament for away shirts, with 2 missing completely (Scotland, Sweden) alongside the potential absence of England’s blue away. Many people have discussed the commercial requirements for away shirts to be worn as much as is feasible, but despite opportunity England have stuck to their home.
From a purely kit perspective, it would be a blow for the away not to appear at the Euros. Despite sightings pre-tournament, and the future appearances before the release of the new shirts, even just one glimpse during a World Cup or Euros makes a shirt so much more memorable, particularly in the wider, public consciousness. Unless you work for Nike though, it’s not something to worry about, and no matter the final result the anticipated windfall from people buying anything with an England badge on will offset the potential lost revenue caused by the disappearance of the away shirt.
4. What shorts will England and Italy wear in the Euro 2020 final?
Moving down from the shirts for a minute, there’s the important matter of shorts colours to resolve.
Contrasting shorts are sadly a relative rarity in modern tournaments, and though Italy have looked great (and played well) in the blue/navy/blue combo, I’d always lean towards the white shorts given the choice. For England, I’m not particularly keen on the all-white look. It’s not as damning as some of the monochrome aesthetics we saw at previous major tournaments (I’m still recovering from Spain in 2014), but the blue shorts are far superior.
If you’re looking for a kit omen to hang your hat on ahead of the Euro 2020 final though, the last time Italy wore dark shorts with their home shirts at a major tournament was… 1966. Interesting.
The last time Italy wore dark shorts with their home shirt at a major tournament? 1966.
Nike have been dominant on the international stage, kitting out both teams at the last World Cup final (France vs Croatia) and Euros final (Portugal vs France).
For Puma, Sunday will be their first appearance at a major international final since Euro 2012, where they supplied Italy’s kits. 2012 was also the last time we saw two different kit manufacturers in a final (Puma vs adidas), with the all-adidas affair of the 2014 World Cup starting the homogenous streak alongside the aforementioned Nike finals.
This Euros has been a success in terms of brand parity, with hummel mucking in with the big boys to make it 4 different manufacturers across the 4 semi-finalists. Zooming out, it’s been a particularly successful summer for Puma, with all 4 Puma teams making it to the knockout stages and two sides (Switzerland and Czech Republic) claiming memorable scalps from big, Nike teams.