Finalissima: Italy’s captain Giorgio Chiellini looks back on “nice” retirement after Wembley showpiece | football news

Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini says he will enjoy a ‘beautiful’ end to his international career against Argentina at Wembley in Wednesday’s Finalissima – but what is that?

European champions Italy will take on their South American counterpart Argentina in the third edition of the ‘Cup of Champions’ match between the winners of the European Championship and the Copa America, now titled Finalissima, at Wembley Stadium.

Italy manager Roberto Mancini is expected to name as many of his Euro 2020 heroes, who beat England to lift the trophy at the same stadium last July, in the starting XI as many as possible. But he has also admitted the game marks the “end of a cycle” after failing to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Asked how it will feel to end his international career with this game, Chiellini told UEFA.com: “It’s beautiful.

“Argentina have exceptional players. It’s obvious that the first one that comes to mind is (Lionel) Messi, but the others around him are fantastic. They didn’t win (the Copa America) by accident.

Squad Italy

Goalkeeper: Alessio Cragno (Lazio); Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG); Alex Meret (Naples); Salvatore Sirigu (Genoa).

Defender: Francesco Acerbi (Lazio), Alessandro Bastoni (Inter), Cristiano Biraghi (Fiorentina), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus), Davide Calabria (Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (Napoli), Federico Dimarco (Inter), Emerson Palmieri (Lyon), Alessandro Florenzi (Milan), Manuel Lazzari (Lazio), Luiz Felipe (Lazio), Gianluca Mancini (Roma), Leonardo Spinazzola (Roma).

Midfield player: Nicolo Barella (Inter); Bryan Cristante (Roma); Davide Frattesi (Sassuolo); Jorginho (Chelsea); Manuel Locatelli (Juventus); Lorenzo Pellegrini (Roma); Matteo Pessina (Atalanta); Sandro Tonali (Milan); Marco Verratti (PSG)

Forward: Andrea Belotti (Turin); Domenico Berardi (Sassuolo); Federico Bernardeschi (Juventus); Gianluca Caprari (Verona); Lorenzo Insigne (Naples); Moise Kean (Juventus); Andrea Pinamonti (Empoli); Matteo Politano (Naples); Giacomo Raspadori (Sassuolo); Gianluca Scamacca (Sassuolo); Mattia Zaccagni (Lazio); Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).

“Messi is a football icon. It’s not for me to say whether he’s the greatest of all time or not. It will just be a pleasure to play my last game for the national team against him.”

“It was undoubtedly better than I could have ever imagined. As a kid you dream of playing for the national team because that’s the ultimate.

“The thought of being able to play 100+ games over the course of 18 years, be captain and win an important trophy like I did at Wembley last year was icing on the cake.”

Chiellini, who has already played his last game for Juventus after 17 years at the club, added: “I’m at peace. I’m happy with what I’ve achieved and a little bit proud of what I’ve achieved in my career.”

Scaloni: Argentina trained like never before

Lionel Messi is part of a strong squad named by Lionel Scaloni for Argentina's visit to London
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Lionel Messi is part of a strong squad named by Lionel Scaloni for Argentina’s visit to London

Although Finalissima is not viewed as a major trophy, Finalissima did motivate Argentina players enough that manager Lionel Scaloni – who enjoyed a brief stint of his own in London as a West Ham player in 2006 – addressed his side’s hopes of winning the revived tournament.

The 29-man squad chosen by Scaloni prepared for Wednesday’s showdown with warm-weather training in Bilbao and, in the words of their manager, “trained like never before”.

“Obviously we would like to win because it’s for a trophy,” said Scaloni. “The most important thing is our goal, which is between now and November and is to continue developing our game.

Argentina squad

Goalkeeper: Emiliano Martinez (Aston Villa), Juan Musso (Atalanta), Jeronimo Rugli (Villarreal), Franco Armani (River Plate).

Defender: Gonzalo Montiel (Seville), Marcos Acuna (Seville), Nahuel Molina (Udinese), Neuen Perez (both Udinese), Juan Foyth (Villarreal), Christian Romero (Tottenham), German Pessella (Betis), Marcos Senesi (Feyenoord), Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Ajax), Nicholas Tagliafico (Ajax).

Midfield player: Guido Rodriguez (Betis), Alexis McAllister (Brighton), Rodrigo de Paul (Atletico Madrid), Exequiel Palacios (Bayer Leverkusen), Giovani Lo Celso (Villarreal, on loan from Tottenham).

Forward: Lionel Messi (PSG), Angel Di Maria (PSG), Alejandro Gomez (Seville), Nicolas Gonzalez (Fiorentina), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid), Paulo Dybala (Juventus), Joaquin Correa (Inter), Lautaro Martinez (Inter) , Julian Alvarez (River Plate).

“Wearing this jersey means taking on teams and competing as much as possible and that’s what we’re going to do tomorrow. Regardless of whether we win the trophy or not, what matters is to continue on the path we have taken.

“We’ve been training like never before. The last time we had a full week might have been before the Copa America and I don’t think it was even seven days, so it might be the time of most training sessions with the national team. ” Me and I hope we made the best of it.

“You have to see how much the players played, especially at the end of the season. We made a few tweaks, revisited things that we did well and tried to improve them, and of course worked on the areas for improvement.”

Finalissima explained…

What is Finalissima?

The ‘Cup of Champions’, which brings together European champions and Copa America winners, has been held twice before, in 1985 and 1993, with France and Argentina being the respective winners.

A revival of the idea was first mentioned in 2020, before confirmation last year by UEFA and CONMBEOL, the two confederations for the continents, that at least three editions of the competition would be staged – starting in 2022.

In March, “Finalissima” was announced as the name of the competition, which means “grand finale” in Italian.

Why is it only Europe vs South America?

Of the 21 World Cup winners to date, all have come from either South America (nine) or Europe (12) – and while this isn’t an ‘official’ winner-takes-all event, it does arguably bring together the winners of the two strongest continental competitions.

What are the two teams fighting for?

The Finalissima Trophy is awarded to either Italy or Argentina - who are arguably the 'holders';  - on Wednesday evening
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The Finalissima trophy will be awarded to Italy or Argentina on Wednesday night, who are arguably the ‘holders’

Oh don’t worry, there’s a trophy up for grabs – slightly larger than the World Cup and roughly the same shape as a champagne flute, the Finalissima trophy has retained much of the same style as it did almost 40 years ago when it was first presented to France was awarded before.

The main difference is a new base to accommodate the new name of the competition.

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