Euro 2020 – Belgium vs Italy
Quarter-finals – Allianz Arena, Munich
A 1-0 win against Portugal sent Belgium through after a bit of individual magic from Thorgan Hazard. Somehow Belgium didn’t concede against a Portugal team that littered their goal with shots, without having too much success on target right enough, but Belgium got lucky. Stats show one shot on target for Belgium and that proved to be the difference in a game that could have so easily gone the other way. Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard both went off during the game with injuries and they’ll be doubtful for this game against a strong Italian side. They defended well against Portugal, but they didn’t create nearly enough going forward to warrant the victory. Italy will offer up another tough test, but it’ll be a completely different game and Belgium will grow in confidence that they can get the job done here. They’ve had to travel a lot during this tournament and will be on the move again to Germany this time, but it is sure to have a lot of Belgian fans in attendance which will help spur the team on. They’ve come through their 4 games so far at the Euros only conceding 1 goal which was against Denmark and they showed a lot of fight to come back from 1-0 down to win that game. Their performance will have to improve a lot if they are to get past Italy which is a huge challenge as the Italians have looked like one of the strongest teams at the tournament so far. This one has the makings of another classic encounter between two teams that are looking to win the tournament.
Italy will be disappointed in their performance against Austria in their opening knockout game, but the win is what matters. Austria fought hard and at times they even looked like the better side, but it was in extra time that Italy found their way through twice to secure a 2-1 win. After setting a new record for themselves of not conceding a goal in 1168 minutes, they were finally undone at the back after Austria pulled one back, but Italy didn’t falter and they held strong to see it out. They come into this one against Belgium and they will be looking to improve on quite a poor performance against Austria, with Belgium having a lot more individual quality than the Austrians. The team is still winning though and that’s all that matters in knockout football. No matter how you get it done, so long as you get it done and the Italians will play like that. They like to press from the front and they defend in numbers with a lot of physical players and a few magicians in midfield means that this team has it all. They have the correct recipe to go on and win this tournament, but they will come up against obstacles against Belgium and if they pass that test, they have every chance of going all the way. It’s a tough tie to call and it wouldn’t be a surprise if this one went all the way to penalties.