Russian UFC legend Khabib Nurmagomedov has named some of the stars who have caught his eye on either side ahead of the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy – and the huge football fan believes speed will make the difference.
Prophetic powerhouse Nurmagomedov tipped England as likely contenders just three days into the tournament, and the Real Madrid supporters has shown his support for Gareth Southgate’s side again ahead of the hotly-anticipated final on Sunday, setting out his views during a piece of punditry.
Speaking to Javier Mendez on his coach’s Instagram page, perceptive Nurmagomedov picked out strikers Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane, midfielders Mason Mount and Kalvin Phillips, defender Kyle Walker and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as six of the best.
“Last time they won a title it was 1966, when they won the World Cup,” he said of England fans’ long wait for a trophy. “After that, they didn’t win nothing.
“They have a very good, young team with players like Sterling, Kane, Mount, Phillips, Walker, Pickford. A very good team, and they’re going to play at home.”
That Wembley advantage has made England odds-on favorites with bookmakers, although the Azzurri are on a remarkable 33-match unbeaten run and arguably beat better opposition to reach the final, ousting three-time champions Spain on penalties the night before England edged past 1992 winners Denmark in extra-time.
Fabled defensive pairing Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have justifiably caught Nurmagomedov’s eye, as well as Lazio hitman Ciro Immobile.
“Italy, I think, have a big chance because they have a very experienced team: Bonucci, Chiellini, Immobile, all these guys,” observed the retired lightweight champion.
“But in my opinion, England have to win because they have speed. I hope England are going to win – I think they deserve to.”
England supporters encouraged by one of the best-known names in sport tipping their team for glory may find a note of caution in Nurmagomedov’s other prediction during the group stage.
The 32-year-old named friend Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal as his other selection for the title, only to see them dumped out in the round of 16 by Belgium, who he had watched beat Russia 3-0 in their opening game in St. Petersburg.
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