euro 2020 player of the final marco verratti
euro 2020 player of the final marco verratti

Euro 2020 player of the final – Marco Verratti

Marco Verratti had a watching brief by the time the Euro 2020 final was settled from the penalty spot, but Sunday’s Wembley showpiece had belonged to the Italy midfielder.

As was the case in the previous knockout rounds at the tournament, Verratti was substituted against England. That did not prevent him from delivering the game’s standout performance according to Opta’s player index.

Verratti has a little of everything to his game, able to harry opponents, then carve them open having dazzled them with extended passing displays.

This was a match that perfectly suited his wide-ranging skills.

No Italy player made more tackles (five, tied with Emerson) or recovered possession more often (eight, also tied with Emerson) than Verratti, helping to limit England to 34.4 per cent of the possession – their lowest mark at Wembley since 34.3 per cent against Spain in November 2016.

Once the Azzurri had the ball, though, as they so often did, Verratti was key to them keeping it.

Italy completed 88.5 per cent of their passes, but Verratti outperformed that high bar, completing 111 of his 118 attempts for 94.1 per cent. He led the game with 72 passes in the opposition half, of which 93.1 per cent were successful.

Verratti was at the centre of everything. Whenever Italy needed someone to take the ball, he was there.

The Paris Saint-Germain man’s 133 touches led the game at the time of his substitution in the 96th minute. Even as the closing stages played out without him, Verratti slipped behind only Leonardo Bonucci (140) and Giorgio Chiellini (134).

Stats Perform

Of course, the Azzurri needed someone to take the ball with 23 minutes remaining and time running out. As a right-wing corner bounced through the box, again Verratti was there.

His stooping header kept the attack alive, drawing an instinctive stop from England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford. However, a fortunate bounce of the ball allowed Bonucci to restore parity.

That Verratti attempt was one of two efforts. He created two chances as well.

The diminutive creator even won his only aerial duel. By the time he made way for Manuel Locatelli, he must have felt he had done the lot.

Verratti had not, of course, scored a spot-kick. Watching on having been substituted, he must have felt he could have done better in that regard, as well.

Fortunately for Italy, Gianluigi Donnarumma came to their rescue and Verratti could reflect on a career highlight rather than a missed opportunity, his performance given the reward it deserved.