MATCH PREVIEW: ITALY VS BELGIUM - THE CHAMPIONS OF EUROPE AND WORLD NUMBER ONE FIGHT FOR THE 3RD PLACE OF THE NATIONS LEAGUE

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After losing the semifinal of the Nations League, Italy and Belgium are set to face in the Third Place Play-Off ahead of the final played between Spain and France. Italy’s long-standing 37 unbeaten run was ended by the mighty Spaniards in their last game but that doesn’t mean they are an easy team to beat right now.

 

 

Their young talented players are looking promising with every game and since the game is being held in Italy, Belgium are going to have a run for their money. In their last game, things didn’t go according to the script for the Azzurri.

They got a man sent off and were 2 goals down at halftime. They left open spaces in their backline and didn’t attack as a unit which cost them a shot at the title.

Belgium played very well against France in the semi-final but conceded a 90th-minute winner and were knocked out. This was the last chance for their golden generation to prove the critics wrong and win a trophy since winning the World Cup is too far fetched for them to have an ageing backline.

 

 

They were looking positive in the first half all around but their backline was quite mismanaged and they conceded goals that could have been avoided. Both sides would surely expect some reward for making it so far in the tournament and a third-place finish is something they would be willing to fight for.

 

TEAM NEWS

Bonucci will have to sit this one out since he got suspended last game. Italy would have to cope without their prolific striker Ciro Immobile along with Matteo Pessina due to injuries. Mancini will probably give his key players a rest after a hard battle against Spain and will give a chance for the younger players to have a shot at glory.

 

 

Italy Predicted Starting Lineup: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Chiellini, Emerson; Verratti, Jorginho, Locatelli; Berardi, Raspador, Bernardeschi

Doku, Mertens and Meunier are all excluded from the pecking order due to injuries. Martinez too will choose to give a rest to important players.

 

 

Belgium Starting Lineup: Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Castagne, Tielemans, Dendocker, Saelemaekers; Vanakan, Lukaku, De Ketelaere

 

GAME CHANGERS

 

It is almost impossible to leave Lukaku out of the starting lineup with the monstrous form he is in. Lukaku is at the point in his career that everything he touches into gold or goals to be precise.

He scored a goal against France and came whiskers away from scoring the winner in the last few minutes of the game but he was called outside and his goal was disallowed. Lukaku is their man up front who has the responsibility of finishing the ball in the back of the net, he is more than likely to be featured in the scoreboard.

 

MANUEL LOCATELLI

 

Since Locatelli didn’t start against Spain, Mancini will surely give him a chance in the starting lineup in front of their fans. Locatelli majorly contributed to Italy’s Euro winning run and have settled in well at Juventus in his early days.

The deep-lying playmaker is a jack of all trades since he has attacking prowess along with his defensive quality which complements his massive physique. He is set to have a great influence on the result of the game.

 

PREDICTIONS

 

Both sides are going to feature younger players and give them a chance in the spotlight and since Italy have the better set of youngsters they will more likely perform better than Belgium. Italy are also playing in front of their home fans who would be expecting a reaction after the semi-final loss. FootTheBall predicts Italy 2-1 Belgium.

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