England’s reputation for losing penalty shootouts at major tournaments caused bookmakers to narrowly favour Italy moments before the dreaded spot-kicks in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final.
England and Italy had battled out a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes at Wembley Stadium in a tense and at-times frenetic final encounter.
The Three Lions were looking to end 55 years of hurt and claim their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup, while Italy were seeking their first European honour since ’68.
In the end, the Italians won 3-2 on penalties as goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – subsequently named the official player of the tournament – saved Bukayo Saka’s crucial spot-kick in front of a silenced home crowd.
Yet while a penalty shoot-out is considered by many as a 50/50 split in terms of who will emerge victorious, many UK betting apps actually favoured Italy.
Italians Gain The Edge
According to the odds on Coral’s sportsbook moments before the penalty shootout began, for example, Italy were 17/20 to win the trophy, compared to England at 11/10. That gave the Italians an implied advantage of almost 3% over their opponents.
That might not sound like much but if you consider the amount of bets wagered in the UK on England to win the game – and therefore the pressure that would have put on England’s odds – then it reveals just how favoured the Italians really were on Sunday.
Remarkably, Italy went into the final as the 23/10 underdogs. England had played five of their previous six Euro 2020 fixtures at Wembley, were buoyed by a partisan home crowd and had conceded just one goal all tournament.
Their odds fell even further when Luke Shaw opened the scoring after two minutes – but steadily Italy worked their way back into the game and equalised in the second half via Leonardo Bonucci’s scrambled goal.
England Shootout Record
Extra time couldn’t split the two teams and so the game went to penalties. England’s spot-kicks record before the final was three wins from 10. That’s a 30% success rate in a scenario that is meant to be 50/50. The rate is now 27%.
Gareth Southgate had hoped the successful shootout win over Colombia at the 2018 World Cup – their first triumph since beating Spain at Euro ’96 – would have ended a hoodoo that saw the Three Lions crash out of two World Cups and two European Championships during that 22-year period.
Indeed, England even beat Switzerland in a Nations League playoff clash via spot-kicks in 2019. But they could not get past the Italians – the country that beat them on penalties at Euro 2012 – in their first ever European Championship final.
What next for England? The World Cup 2022 odds place Southgate’s troops as third favourites at 7/1 to win in Qatar next year. How they will fare remains to be seen.