EURO 2016: Belgium-Italy
On Monday, one of the greatest matches to play in the EURO 2016 group stage will take place in Lyon where Belgium will face off Italy. Currently ranked the second best team in the world by FIFA, Belgium were considered the dark horse at some of the previous tournaments but this time around, with the likes of De Bruyne, Hazard, Lukaku and Mertens, the Belgian side can only be regarded one of the candidates to win the championship. Italy might not have that star-studded outfit but they are more experienced and they also keep a very favourable record against Belgium, which suggests we are likely to see a thrilling high profile encounter. The Monday Group E blockbuster Belgium versus Italy will start at 9 PM (CET).
Belgium breezed through their qualifying campaign with an impressive score of seven wins out of ten games, clinching the top spot in their group. Prior to the tournament, the Belgians arranged five friendlies to keep up their formidable shape. In their first warm-up duel, they beat their Monday opponents Italy (3:1). Then, they lost to Portugal (1:2) but have been unbeaten since then, claiming wins over Switzerland (2:1) and Norway (3:2) and a draw against Finland (2:2). Obviously, the form and momentum is with this young and highly talented Belgian side who should begin their EURO campaign in style to advance from their tricky group. Apart from their indisputable outfit quality, Belgium will take advantage of another thing at the tournament Ã¢â‚¬â€œ their renowned fans. As Belgium is located right next to France, tens of thousands of enthusiastic Belgian fans are expected to invade their national teamÃ‚Â´s matches. Let us see how massive their support will be in the opener against Italy.
Italy met the expectations and with an impressive score of 7 wins, 3 draws and no loss, they topped their qualifying group. For ConteÃ‚Â´s men, it is the sixth consecutive EURO they have qualified for. The Italians began the preparation for the tournament at the end of the last year when they faced Belgium and Romania in two friendly games. Unfortunately for the Azzurri, they failed to win any of these matches as they lost to Belgium (1:3) and only tied with Romania (2:2). In their next preparatory duel, they took on the reigning European champions Spain who they held to a 1:1 draw. However, just a few days later, the Italians suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Germany who dominated the game, hammering Italy 4:1. In their final warm-ups though, Italy gave a good performance, beating both Scotland (1:0) and Finland (2:0). But the star-packed Belgium will be a tougher opponent and if Italy want to kick off the tournament in a victorious fashion, they have to give their very best performance in the game, particularly their attackers who have had an issue with goal scoring.
The Parc Olympique Lyonnais Stadium in Lyon will be the venue of a highly attractive football clash between two European heavyweights Belgium and Italy. The Belgians, boasting what is arguably the strongest team they have ever had, are craving for a medal and they are determined to prove they really have what it takes to clinch one of the medal spots but Italy also have the highest ambitions, although their current squad is not as formidable as it was at the previous tournaments. To find out which of these two great teams will prevail in the game, we will have to wait until Monday night.
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