“It’s going to be massive,” Andrea Zanetti, an Italian who has lived in the UK for seven years, tells The Independent from a cafe in London’s Little Italy district.
“I’m just a little bit worried to be in the middle of all the English fans.”
The 29-year-old is one of the thousands expected to head to Wembley to watch the final of the Euro 2020 between Italy and England on Sunday evening.
With football fever on the streets of the capital palpable, and days after Wednesday’s semi-final win against Denmark saw football fans scaling London buses, it is perhaps no surprise Zanetti immediately brings up English supporters’ behaviour.
Zanetti says he had seen scenes of rowdy fans hours before the match had even started.
“They were all drunk, already singing and chanting. And it was four o’clock – still four hours before the match,” he tells The Independent from behind the counter of the Fidelio Orchestra Cafe in Clerkenwell.
He says his English colleagues keep telling him “it’s coming home”, Zanetti adds.
While Zanetti, who will be cheering on Italy from Wembley on Sunday, would have been happy for England to win the tournament (”it’s my home country now”), he had rather hoped the two countries would not meet in the final.
For Giovanna Gualtieri, who works at a nearby driving school, fans here seem to take it all a touch too seriously.
“The main thing I don’t understand is why there has to be trouble,” she tells The Independent. “It is a day to enjoy. If you’re going to win, you win. If you lose, you lose.”
Gualtieri, who moved from southern Italy to England as a child, will be watching at home with Italian family and friends.
“I’ve got my daughter’s boyfriend who is supporting the English,” she tells The Independent from a driving school in Little Italy, “But he is not watching with us, I’m afraid.”
“He wants England to win, so – out!” she says, perhaps jokingly.
The Metropolitan Police said 20 were arrested after fans gathered to celebrate England’s win over Denmark on Wednesday for offences such as common assault, public order and assault on police.
It came after nine were arrested and two officers injured in London after England’s win over Ukraine in the quarter finals.
Gualtieri says she is “nervous”. “Hopefully we win, but I don’t know. It is a tough one.”
Next door to her driving school, Antonio Verruto sits in his Italian takeaway restaurant, Malletti’s Pizza.
“I feel like everybody else,” he tells The Independent. “There is a lot of apprehension, excitement and hope for a victory for Italy.”
He adds: “Then again, as I have spent so many years in this country, a defeat from Italy and a win from England is not bad. It is my second country.”
Verruto, who has spent several decades in the UK, says he will probably be watching the football with friends – both English and Italian.
“There is a nice atmosphere and there will be some nice healthy banter. That is what football is all about.”
While he is hoping for an Italy win, he says he does not know what the score will be when asked for a prediction.
“Nobody knows. If I knew the score, I would be in William Hill putting all my money there. It is a silly question.”