Thorgan Hazard’s mighty fine, swerving cracker earned a spot in the final eight for Belgium. The Red Devils will face Italy on Friday evening and we cannot wait for this one!
The patient approach of Belgium meets a robust and confident Italy in the game of the tournament so far. The match will pit two incredible managers against each other and rest assured, you will get every ounce of excitement for your money.
Euro 2020 – Quarter-final
Friday 2 July
To Win (90 min)
Belgium wasn’t able to come away from their encounter with Portugal unscathed. Captain Kevin De Bruyne picked up an injury and could be a doubt against Italy.
Roberto Martinez’s side survived an onslaught of pressure from Portugal in the second half and will want to bring that confidence into their quarter-final clash in Munich on Friday. They coped well and managed to eventually grow into the game, but it was De Bruyne who was most influential in getting his countrymen up the pitch and asking questions in the final third.
I would tread carefully however, when writing off this Belgium side or the attacking options they hold. Much has been said about the form of Romelu Lukaku, the Inter Milan striker has been immense in Serie A, and whilst that unbelievable form might not necessarily have been seen at Euro 2020, the big frontman remains a threat.
The Belgium squad is littered with talent, and I don’t dispute that they could beat any side on their day. Nevertheless, I think De Bruyne is the most important cog in this machine and if he is to miss the fixture, Belgium will be without their creator-in-chief. His creative and individual brilliance often gets his side out of trouble and allows them to turn defence into attack. Portugal tested their resolve and forced them to create something special to get through, Italy will likely be more of the same, so losing special players doesn’t help.
Italy needed an extra 30 minutes against Austria to ensure they got past the round of 16 stage. Austria certainly put in an inspired defensive performance and proved many people wrong – in that they deserved their spot and were not going to simply roll over for one of the more favoured nations at this tournament.
Roberto Mancini will take plaudits for his late substitutions bringing on eventual goal scorers Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina. The Italian manager commented after that game that the test posed by Austria will prove more difficult than their quarter-final game, but I reckon that’s just tongue-in-cheek and isn’t anything to be taken seriously.
I suppose it’s fair to say that the performance from Italy was far from pretty and definitely not one expected from this talented side. Their incredible clean sheet record didn’t seem to look comfortably in place, and without VAR Marko Arnautovic’s early goal would have stood.
Italy was to eventually concede (after 1168 minutes of football) but their defensive ability is still something that could separate them when the going gets tough.
Prediction: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals (26/10)
If Belgium get out of the gates quickly, they could unsettle Italy much like Austria. The Red Devils certainly have the side to get into the Italians’ faces and sustain an aggressive approach with more than enough quality.
Italy would have taken a lot from their game with Austria and will want to be comfortable when the game seems to become cagey for extended periods. Mancini has shown he isn’t shy to tinker with the system and Martinez will want to ensure his side doesn’t allow their opponents to settle and impose themselves at any point. It’s going to be a chess match, played on the very edge of emotion and nerve. I don’t think there’ll be many goals, but it’ll still be an incredible watch.