Belgium vs Italy Prediction
The most imposing match of the Euro 2020 quarterfinals is Belgium vs Italy. With each member of the group of death eliminated, two of the remaining favorites will face off in the final eight when Belgium takes on Italy.
HISTORY: Italy leads the all-time series 14-4-4. These two nations have split the most recent pair of matchups, with the Italians opening up Euro 2016 with a 2-0 victory over Belgium.
Belgium: Tale of the Tape
Lineup: Courtois; Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Vertonghen; T. Hazard, Witsel, Tielemans, Meunier; Mertens, Lukaku, Carrasco
Through four games, Belgium has remained unbeaten, and they’ve held three clean sheets. They dispatched Russia quickly in the opening game 3-0 behind a brace from Inter forward Romelo Lukaku. After falling behind to an emotion-filled Denmark squad early, the second-half heroics from Kevin De Bryne led to a comeback 2-1 victory. Belgium took over 70 minutes, but they managed to avoid an upset and defeat Finland 2-0 to secure three points and close out group stages unblemished.
Belgium advanced with a 1-0 victory over Portugal, but the hard-fought match came with a price. Roberto Martinez’s team was outshot by Portugal 23-6, and injuries to De Bryne and team captain Eden Hazard now cast a cloud over this heavyweight battle with Italia. Martinez won’t have to scramble too much, as he carried a deep team into this summer, but not having those two key players on the pitch could prove costly.
Belgium will trot out in a 3-4-3 formation with Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois making his 89th cap between the sticks. He’ll be covered by the veteran trio of Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld, Kobe’s Thomas Vermaelen, and Benfica’s Jan Vertonghen. Belgium was outplayed by Portugal last time out, but Martinez will likely opt to keep Leicester’s Youri Tielemans and Dortmund’s Axel Witsel lying in the middle with fellow BVB mates Thorgan Hazard and Thomas Meunier on the outside. Meunier scored in the opener and will likely fall in defense with the backline, while Hazard will look to follow up his heroic performance and attack Italy on the flanks.
The front line will feel the potential losses of KDB and Hazard. Martinez will still have a steady, reliable option in Romelo Lukaku, but he will certainly miss the creative prowess of the talented duo. Belgium does have the luxury of turning to a familiar face in Dries Mertens. The Napoli stud was an unsung hero at the 2018 World Cup, and he scored in three straight Nations League caps. Atletico’s Yannick Carrasco will join Mertens and Lukaku at the top of the formation and play out wide.
Italy: Tale of the Tape
Lineup: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne
After uncharacteristically missing the 2018 World Cup, Italy opened the tournament with a dominating 3-0 over Turkey, then followed it up with an identical pounding of Switzerland. Wales played them tough, but the Italians prevailed with a 1-0 win and cruised to a Group A victory. They escaped an upset in the quarterfinal, as Austria took them to extra time and nearly ended Italy’s summer.
The longtime center-back pairing of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci continues to hold the fort. Two-thirds of the infamous Italy Wall, Chiellini, and Bonucci will bring brute and leadership to a young, talented squad. The Juventus pairing has over 250 caps combined. Roma’s Leonardo Spinazzola and Napoli’s Giovanni Di Lorenzo will join them on the outside, while the former has been named Man of the Match twice for his defensive mastery and offensive runs against Turkey and Austria. Gigi Donnarumma will make his 32nd cap in goal.
Italy continues to win at the midfield. Marco Verrati will be joined by Chelsea’s Jorginho and Inter’s Nicolo Barella. Jorginho is coming off of a magical Champions’ winning campaign, and the deep-lying playmaker served as the glue for Thomas Tuchel’s turnaround at Chelsea this season. Barella featured and helped Inter capture the Seria A crown in his first year with the club.
Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne will look to get things going up top. Immobile is coming off of another stellar campaign with Lazio, netting 25 goals and garnering another trip to Europa League. Insigne remains consistent, and the Napoli striker has scored in each of the last four big tournaments. Both Serie A studs found the back of the net in the win over Turkey, and they will look to give the Austrian backline some trouble. Juventus’ Federico Chiesa will start alongside the talented duo after his heroics in the 2-1 win over Austria, while Sassuolo’s Domenico Berardi or Torino’s Andrea Belotti could feature as second half super subs.
Players to Watch
Belgium will lean on the attacking prowess of their lead striker. With KDB and Hazard both likely to miss the quarterfinal, there will be a lot of pressure on Lukaku to produce in this spot. He’s scored three times this summer, but he’ll have a tough time scoring against the vaunted Italy wall.
The Italians have not missed a beat transitioning from Gigi Buffon to Gigi Donnarumma, and the latter has really come into his own this summer. This is going to be a defensive match that could even come down to penalties. Look for Donnarumma to keep things going and aim for his fourth clean sheet this summer.
Belgium vs Italy Prediction & Pick
This is what Euros are all about. Heavyweight clashes that will keep us on the edge of our seats. Sadly, we may not witness Belgium at full strength, and that may cost them in this bout. Italy enters carrying an eleven-match unbeaten streak, and prior to Austria scoring in extra time, they held their last eleven opponents scoreless as well. Belgium still has a fighting chance to win this contest, but not having Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bryne could haunt them. Italy is fit, and in great form, and after seeing how Portugal outplayed the Belgians, they should come in with the same agenda. If Belgium falls behind early, look for Italy to win a scrappy match and advance to the semifinals. Take Italy today to win, under 3.5 goals, and perhaps both to score.
PREDICTION: BEL 0 – ITA 1