UEFA EURO 2020: Italy vs Belgium, Three Key On-Field Matchups To Lookout For
An exciting set of fixtures await us in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals. The final eight features some unexpected names while some prominent ones missed their opportunity. Of all the fixtures in the quarters, Italy’s clash with Belgium is the most enticing of the lot. Pitted as two of the strongest teams in the competition, they will face each other in the second quarter-final match. The rest of the finalists will be relieved to know that one of the two will be knocked out.
Two teams spearheaded by two brilliant tacticians will square off. Both teams are unbeaten in the competition and boast an almost equal number of goals and clean sheets. Belgium is regarded as the best team in the world and Italy has regained its mojo after a disappointing period post the 2012 Euros.
🇧🇪 Belgium prepare for their quarter-final tie 💪
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 30, 2021
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium will be without two of their key men in the fixture against Italy. Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard are both sidelined due to injuries. However, they still have some prominent names in the squad that can help them secure the win. Roberto Mancini’s Italy is one of the most balanced sides the country has ever-fielded. Retaining the excellent defensive zeal while also boasting a team capable of scintillating attacking football.
Italy will be the biggest test Belgium will face in the tournament. Hard to penetrate and precise going forward. Let’s take a look at the key matchup’s that can decide the game.
LUKAKU VS BONUCCI
Romelu Lukaku is in scintillating form. There’s no stopping the big man, ambitious and prolific, he is one of the most dangerous centre-forwards in world football. Belgium’s leading goalscorer is a handful for any defence. His stature and size help him retain the ball even under immense pressure. A goal threat with either foot, combined with an eye to spot a pass, Lukaku will be the key man for Belgium in the absence of their captains.
— Nazionale Italiana ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@Vivo_Azzurro) June 27, 2021
However, Lukaku’s counterpart is one of the worlds most renowned defenders in Leonardo Bonucci. With over a hundred caps for Italy, the Juventus centre-back is one of the most experienced defenders in world football. The ability to read passes and movements before they happen helps him stop dangerous moves. A ball-playing centre-back that relies more on intelligence than brute strength. His positioning and experience will be vital if he hopes to deny Lukaku a chance on goal.
VERRATTI VS WITSEL
Marco Verratti has made just two appearances in the tournament so far but despite his rusty fitness, the PSG midfielder was one of the best players for the country. The number six is exceptional in holding up play and dictating tempo. With neat passing and dribbling abilities, Verratti can open up a chance through to goal easily. A set-piece specialist and an expert at finding teammates, Belgium will have to be on their toes against Italy.
Axel Witsel will be the man in charge of midfield in the absence of the trusted Kevin de Bruyne. Although not as skilled as his counterpart, Witsel poses a unique danger. Like Verratti, Witsel also contributes defensively. However, most of his play is bound to ball retention and game control. Keen to win the ball back, Witsel always keeps his eye open for a possible counterattack.
Two number 6’s with varying capabilities will battle it out for the ball in the middle. Their contribution will give an insight into how the game might pan out.
SPINAZZOLA VS MEUNIER
Two players who are likely to meet each other on the flank, Meunier and Spinazzola have been decisive for their sides. Borussia Dortmund’s Meunier has been one of the better performers on the Belgium side. The right-back is given the liberty to venture forwards in the 3-5-2 formation and has found the net and provided two assists as a result.
— Belgian Red Devils (@BelRedDevils) June 12, 2021
Spinazzola on the other hand has been solid in the 300 mins he played. The left-back is cautious with the ball and water-tight at the back. One to venture high when the opportunity arises, Spinazzola has provided an assist for his team as well. He will have to be at the top of his game when Italy takes on Belgium as Meunier is not an easy customer to handle. Berardi will try and lure the defence to make space for Meunier in the far areas, a gap that Spinazzola will have to close down.
Two teams that play as a unit will have a tough time breaking down each other. An enticing fixture that is sure to keep us on the edge of our seats.