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Euro 2020 preview: Belgium vs Italy

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BELGIUM VS ITALY

With many unexpected results in this delayed Euro 2020, two teams that have lived up to their expectations, Belgium and Italy, will meet in the quarterfinals. Both teams had an easy group stage, managing to secure all nine points, but faced tough competition in the round of 16. Only one will pass and which of the two strongest teams on paper will prove their worth?

The injury-stricken Belgian team did not start superstars Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard in the first match. The former was saved as a substitute who turned the game around in the second match against Denmark.

However, a lackluster performance against Portugal, in which they managed to hold on to just one goal, led them to the quarter-finals. If it weren’t for a wonder hit from the lesser-known brother Hazard, the game might have tipped the other way. Belgium will need a performance upgrade if they hope to beat a fit Italy.

Italy’s goal was finally broken when Austria found a consolidation goal in the second half of extra time. A fascinating game from start to finish that put Italians to the test like no one else before. Austria won the hearts of the fans as they fought tirelessly against one of the best teams in the competition. Roberto Mancini’s men deserve credit for their endurance and zeal as they sped past a staunch Austria.

Two brilliant substitutions secured the two goals needed to earn them a spot in the quarterfinals. Although Belgium is number one in the world, Mancini’s reformed Italy will be the toughest team any team would want to avoid. An unshakable defensive unit that has only been broken once since November and an excellent goal threat down the road.

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TEAM NEWS

Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne entered the competition with injury problems. Although the two played important minutes in the competition, they were substituted in the round of 16 due to injury. Reports state that both players will not be withdrawn from the tournament, but they probably won’t face Italy either. A hard blow for Roberto Martรญnez.

BELGIUM PROBABLE START LINE- Courtois; Vertonghen, Vermaelen, Alderweireld; Meunier, Tielemans, Witsel, Thorgan Hazard; Mertens, Carrasco, Lukaku

Chiellini has returned to training for Italy and could be available for the quarter-finals against Belgium. Veratti did not seem to be at his best, but he will probably come out ahead of Manuel Locatelli. Roberto Mancini could turn to experience as they hope to take advantage of the injury-stricken Belgian squad.

PROBABLE INITIAL ALIGNMENT OF ITALY- Donnarumma; Lorenzo, Bonucci, Acerbi, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Veratti; Berardi, motionless, insignia

GAME CHANGERS

ROMELU LUKAKU

With Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski out of competition, Lukaku is the favorite to win the golden boot. He is still two goals away from Ronaldo’s five goals, but he has the ability to produce the goals. A goal or two against one of the best defenders in the world in the form of Italy would be invaluable. He will face one of the most experienced defenders in world football and face constant harassment from a relentless Italian defense.

The lack of attacking options in the last game against Portugal prevented Lukaku from finding the net. There were no quality balls played for the big man despite making the right runs. Belgium’s warm-up game will have to be successful if they hope to put Donnarumma to the test. Lukaku will undoubtedly be his main man at the helm.

LORENZO INSIGNE

The two teams feature several big men, but it will be Italy’s pocket dyamo, the insignia that will turn heads. The Napoli winger makes up for his small stature with incredible ball control and tricks. Almost impossible to undo, the little winger is able to find mates through clever and deceptive passes. A valuable asset to break through the three-man Belgian defense.

His ability to attract players to him will open a gap between the channels for the Italian midfielders to explode. If need be, Insigne has a double hit in his arsenal that is capable of beating even the best goalkeepers in world football. His quick feet and interaction will be vital for Italians. Insigne, one of Mancini’s most trusted men, will want to make an impact in every way possible.

PREDICTION

Italy is here to prove a point. They are no longer the team that did not participate in the World Cup last time. They are no longer just a defensive unit, lazy and sunk in their own half. Mancini has turned this team into a machine capable of almost anything. Too good in all departments. Italy will play for victory and nothing else.

Belgium, for their part, is the best team in the world, although they haven’t won anything to back up that statistic. This tournament is the golden opportunity for them to prove themselves. However, Italy is probably the last team they would have wanted to face. A tough game for both teams.

FootTheBall predicts a victory for Italy. Belgium 0-2 Italy.

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