Belgium vs Italy Preview

Belgium will look to brush aside Italy once more, like they did in a friendly.
Belgium and Italy lock horns in the biggest match of the opening Euro encounters. 
EURO 2016 Group E | Parc Olympique Lyonnais | Monday 13 June | 21:00

Belgium will take on Italy at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais on Monday in what should be a cracking contest. These sides last met in a friendly match in 2015 when the Red Devils ran out 3-1 victors in Brussels.

To Win (90mins)
Belgium 15/10
Draw 2/1
Italy 2/1

Belgium

Belgium have been European football’s ‘dark horses’ for so long now, that it is probably time to simply recognise them as one of the favourites for Euro 2016. 

The bulk of the current squad have been together for some time, and this tournament has always been seen as a target point, at which they would reach their peak. 

Their squad, at its strongest, is right up there with any in Europe, but now they have to turn potential into achievement. 

Under the management of former international midfielder Marc Wilmots, Belgium have flattered to deceive and he will need to maximise the talent at his disposal. 

Wilmots will be without the services of captain Vincent Kompany.


Eden Hazard will captain Belgium at the Euro 2016

However, Belgium still have quality defenders such as Galatasaray’s Jason Denayer, Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen, and Tottenham duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen behind Chelsea shot-stopper Thibaut Courtois. 

Their most influential players are Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. 

They are responsible for much of the creative work for the Red Devils and also provide the finishing touch, with the two midfield maestros finishing as Belgium’s joint-top scorers in qualifying. 

There are many other dangerous players and huge scoring threats in this side with the likes of Yannick Ferreira Carrasco, Dries Mertens, Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke.



Italy

Italy have landed themselves in one of the toughest groups against one of the tournament favourites Belgium, a hardworking Republic of Ireland side and a Sweden outfit for whom Zlatan Ibrahimovic will want to go out with a bang. 

Anything less than second place would nonetheless be a failure. 

The Azzurri topped their qualification group ahead of Croatia, Norway, Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Malta with a record of seven wins and three draws. 

Antonio Conte will be hoping to lead his country to their second European Championship before taking over as Chelsea manager.


Stephen El Sharaawy - Italy

The Italian has altered his formation constantly, but seems to be leaning towards a settled back three of Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini – a trio that served him well when he was Juventus boss. 

Chiellini is a master defender and crucial to Italy if they hope to progress. 

The left-footed centre back is one of world football’s best, combining ruthless tackling with a superb smooth passing ability. 

However, strikers such as Graziano Pelle and Simone Zaza fail to get the pulses racing in the same way as the likes of Christian Vieri and Alessandro Del Piero did in days gone past.

Probable line-ups:

Belgium: 4-2-3-1
Courtois; Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Denayer, Vertonghen; Nainggolan, Witsel; Hazard, De Bruyne, Carrasco; Lukaku

Italy: 3-4-3
Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Florenzi, De Rossi, Motta, Darmian; Candreva, Insigne, Pelle


Betting Verdict: Belgium (15/10)
Even in the group of death, Belgium will be expected to top the group. The Red Devils have world class players in every position of the field. The likes of Hazard, De Bruyne and Carrasco can unlock the best defences and Wilmots’ side are tipped to oust their opponents.

Written by Chadley Nagel.