Saturday, July 24, 2021

Prediction: Belgium vs Italy

Verdict: Italy to qualify 

Best Odds: 2/3

Bookmaker: Unibet

In what is a heavyweight battle on Friday night, Belgium and Italy will meet in Munich with a spot in the semi-final of this summer’s European Championships up for grabs.

Belgium

Starting with Belgium, putting in what was a professional display as they opened up their knockout run last week, The Red Devils managed to land a 1-0 victory as they dumped out defending champions Portugal. Looking to go one step further this summer after crashing out at the quarter-final stage back in 2016, Head Coach Roberto Martinez still finds his side ranked number one in the FIFA standings and they have enjoyed an eye-catching run at this year’s delayed tournament. Including that comeback victory against Denmark on June 17th, the one-time Wigan boss also saw his side land a maximum of nine points from their three Group B contests. Also signing off their preparations with a 1-0 win against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia, it should be noted that Belgium have conceded just a single strike in any of their previous five matchups across all formats.

Team News

Belgium have fitness doubts over key duo Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard after the pair picked up injuries in their last-16 victory over Austria.

Leicester defender Timothy Castagne is back with the squad following a fractured eye socket, but is unlikely to play any part on Friday.

Italy

As for Italy, opening up this summer’s delayed European Championships with a thumping 3-0 win against Turkey at the Stadio Olimpico, The Blues have continued to lay down a real marker. While Roberto Mancini’s side might have struggled to find their best form last time out against Austria in their first knockout tie, the former Manchester City boss did see his side land a dramatic 2-1 victory at Wembley in extra-time. Only continuing on what has been a stunning resurge, Italy are in the midst of a record-breaking 31-match unbeaten run, a run that stems all the way back to September 2018. Gaining a real reputation for their remarkable showings at the back, they should also be boosted by their record against Belgium on the biggest stage. Italy have won three of the previous four encounters at a major tournament, drawing the other.

Team News

In a real boost for Italy, veteran defender Giorgio Chiellini could be set to make his return on Friday night after missing the last two matchups with a muscle injury.

Full-back Alessandro Florenzi is also back training with his teammates following a calf issue.

Key Factors to Consider

    • Belgium have lost just one of their last 27 games (W23, D3).
    • Their only defeat since the start of 2019 was 2-1 against England at Wembley in the Nations League in October.
    • The Blues have reached the European Championship quarter-finals for the fourth tournament in a row.
    • Italy have won a national record 12 games in a row, scoring 34 goals and conceding one.
    • Roberto Mancini’s side have won three of the previous four encounters at a major tournament, drawing the other.

    Conclusion

    While Italy might have failed to find top gear in their 2-1 extra-time victory against Austria last week, the high-flying Blues might be smelling a real chance to lay down another marker on Friday night. While Belgium might also be enjoying their own extended purple patch, they could take a real hit with both Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne suffering with injury issues. With Roberto Mancini’s side only continuing to break records on their remarkable 31-match unbeaten run, they should also be boosted by their impressive record against Friday’s opponents. Winning three of the previous four encounters at a major tournament, we’re back Italy to extend on their European adventure this weekend.

    Verdict: Italy to qualify 

    Best Odds: 2/3

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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