Euro 16 Diaries, Volume 6: Belgium 0-2 Italy – Much-Fancied Belgium Struggle Against Passionate Italians


Belgium last night were powerless to resist a plucky Italy side as the highest ranked team in the Euros didn’t turn up last night.

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The team, which on paper were one of the strongest in the competition, were expertly contained by Antonio Conte, who nullified the threat of Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. The Azzuri edged an end-to-end, feisty encounter and the Belgian attack looked lacklustre and out of ideas at times. Giaccherini and Pelle each scored quality goals to put the Belgians to the sword and give Italy control of Group E.

Contrary to claims that this is the worst Italy squad ever, Conte set his men out tactically perfect. The passing wasn’t top notch, there were little flaws evident, but the inch-perfect scheming in movement of the team as a whole was fantastic. This is a great sign for Chelsea fans, who are now looking forward very much to Conte’s arrival at The Bridge.

Former Sunderland man Emmanuele Giaccherini was a focal point, linking the midfield and attack together and grabbing a huge goal. At the other end, Chiellini marshalled his defenders superbly and they completely dispelled the threat of the potent Belgian frontline. It wasn’t only Italian quality at the back that secured victory, but De Bruyne and Hazard didn’t click. This is the big debate in Belgian football, their Gerrard-Lampard issue, but if Marc Wilmots can’t get them to work together effectively then Belgium may struggle to get as far as they are expected to.

Player Ratings – Belgium:

Courtois – 6.5

Ciman – 5.5

Alderweireld – 5

Vermaelen – 6

Vertonghen – 6

Witsel – 6

Nainggolan – 5.5

De Bruyne – 6.5

Fellaini – 6.5

Hazard – 6.5

Lukaku – 4

Italy:

Buffon – 7.5

Barzagli – 7.5

Bonucci – 9

Chiellini – 8.5

Candreva – 8.5

Parolo – 6.5

De Rossi – 7.5

Giaccherini – 8

Darmian – 7.5

Eder – 6.5

Pelle – 7.5

Remember to check how you are doing in the Euro Score Predictor competition, at https://blametheblogger.com/euro16

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