Italy vow to crush rivals Belgium in Friday clash as Belgian aces Hazard and Bruyne ruled out

July 02, 2021 at 16:49
Italy vow to crush rivals Belgium in Friday clash as Belgian aces Hazard and Bruyne ruled out

Belgium locks horns with Italy, in what is hailed as Knock-out Clash of the Favourites at 2200hrs, local time.

It’s a typical chess moment for the team managers – what with the constant shuffling of the line up to make up for injuries, uncertain players, et al.

Both team come into the quarter-final duel reeling with injuries from the Group stages.

Belgium knocked out defending champions Portugal from the round of 16 but they paid heavily – aces Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard – both picked up injuries on that match, last Sunday.

They’ve missed pre-match training sessions, and Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco are the obvious replacements.

Belgium prefers the 3-4-2-1 formation, and while not at a premium fitness level, defender Thomas Vermaelen is likely to keep his place in Belgium’s back three.

Italian boss Roberto Mancini has similar cookies on his plate.

Giorgio Chiellini didn’t feature against Austria on Saturday, and he’s likely to face Belgium.

Alessandro Florenzi is also not a sure case.

Italy fields the 4-3-3 formation, and Federico Chiesa has a chance to replace Domenico Berardi in the firing front three.

Which team will win?

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Roberto has to throw dice in the midfield with both Matteo Pessina and Manuel Locatelli itching to get off the bench. Nicolo Barella’s position may be up for grabs.

It’s a difficult match, and fans are literally holding their breath. Pundits are hesitating to pick sides – though Italy has a chance – if Hazard and Bruyne miss out. seeks to balance the scene with almost even odds: Belgium Win at 3.40, versus Italy Win at 2.40 – a possible draw attracts 3.20.

This game may well have to demand a big overtime.

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Belgium have won their last 14 matches (European Championship).

Italy have kept a clean sheet in 7 of their last 8 matches (European Championship).

Italy are undefeated in their last 16 matches (European Championship).

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