Belgium vs Italy – Preview and Prediction
Two of the 2016 UEFA European Championship’s strongest squads, Belgium and Italy, are scheduled to meet in a titanic battle on June 13, Monday at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon to open their respective campaigns this summer.
The two teams boast off All-Star caliber lineups that will surely entertain the fans in France’s third largest city and both are expected to come out on top of Group E, which also has the Republic of Ireland and Sweden, in the said tournament.
Belgium, currently ranked second in the world by FIFA after Argentina, is complete with top club players in all positions for head coach Marc Wilmots.
At the goal are the English Premier League tandem of Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet while the backfield has Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld together with Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen and Montreal Impact’s Laurent Ciman. Team captain Vincent Kompany of Manchester City is sidelined by injury, though.
The midfield cast is as strong as any other team in the tourney with Roma’s Radja Nainggolan, Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini, Tottenham’s Mousa Dembélé, and Zenit’s Axel Witsel.
Leading the charge up front would be vice-captain Eden Hazard of Chelsea alongside a star-studded scoring squadron composed of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne, Atletico Madrid’s Yannick Carrasco, Napoli’s Dries Mertens, and the Liverpool twosome of Divock Origi and Christian Benteke.
The team turned back Norway, 3-2, in their final Euro warmup with Lukaku, Hazard, and Ciman scoring a goal each, as per Yahoo Sports.
Meanwhile, incoming Chelsea coach Antonio Conte’s Italy squad is also as strong as Belgium’s with Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon and Paris Saint-Germain’s Salvatore Sirigu manning the goal.
On defense, Buffon’s Juve teammates Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and Andrea Barzagli will be at the helm with Manchester United’s Matteo Darmian and Milan’s Mattia De Sciglio.
At the midfield are PSG’s Thiago Motta, Lazio’s Antonio Candreva and Marco Parolo, Fiorentina’s Federico Bernardeschi, Juve’s Stefano Sturaro, and Roma’s Alessandro Florenzi, Daniele De Rossi and Stephan El Shaarawy.
The attacking front will be spearheaded by Juve’s Simone Zaza, Southampton’s Graziano Pellè, Torino’s Ciro Immobile, Inter Milan’s Eder, and Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne.
Gli Azzurri blanked Finland, 2-0, in their Euro send off on Tuesday with Candreva and De Rossi scoring the goals, via ESPN.
It would be difficult to predict who will come out on top between these two teams, but the Belgians have a slight edge as they are generally the younger team, but they could not afford to have more injuries to beat the Italians.
The predicted result is a hard-fought 2-1 decision for Belgium.
Belgium starting lineup (4-2-3-1 formation): Courtois; Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Ciman; Fellaini, Nainggolan; Mertens, De Bruyne, Hazard; Lukaku
Italy starting lineup (3-5-2 formation): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Parolo, Motta, Giaccherini, El Shaarawy; Zaza, Immobile