By Piero Fiorino & Richard Bowman
It was not the result many were expecting between Belgium and Italy. This match-up had many narratives coming in as Belgium is currently going through their first golden generation and are considered by some to be favorites in this year’s tournament. Italy on the other hand, a once-great soccer nation is in a state of flux, however, you would have never known that today. Italy played like a team with a purpose today with manager Antonio Conte leading the way as they defeated Belgium 2-0. The result could have been even worse for Belgium if Italy had converted on their many great chances. Emanuele Giaccherini opened things up in the first half when he got a perfect pass from Leonardo Bonucci which made the score 1-0. Belgium appeared shook after this and instead of taking out their frustrations on Italy, they opted to blame each other and play selfishly for the most part. Italy became a little unstable in the second half, which is very uncommon for a team like Italy to do, and it helped Belgium gain momentum. However, Italy was able to hold on and in stoppage time, it was Graziano Pelle putting the ball into the back of the net to give Italy the definitive win.
Leonardo Bonucci sets up Emanuele Giaccherini to give Italy the lead.
Graziano Pelle puts Belgium away as Italy gets a big win to kick things off.
Mattia De Sciglio
Daniele De Rossi
Piero Fiorino: Italy takes their first game at the Lyon with a 2-0 victory over a very prestigious and highly-raked Belgian team. Italy surprised many with this win, as they had already been written off for their first Match in this year’s Euros. However, Italy did exactly what they needed to do to take the upset. Control the pace, to make sure Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku didn’t get their chances, attack, which they did through Leonardo Bonucci, and set up the Italian wall that is their defense. Italy will look to emulate their performance when they meet with Zlatan and that strong Sweden team on Friday.
Richard Bowman: Italy put together a masterful performance led by manager Antonio Conte and should be the type of win that can propel Italy in this tournament. It took Italy a little bit to get going but once they did, it was all them. They routinely got the ball deep on the counter and outworked Belgium for the most part. Italy’s defense like always was great, they really put on a clinic defensively even if there was some luck involved. Both Barzagli and Bonucci played near picture perfect games with Chiellini doing all the necessary dirty work. Conte made sure to spread Belgium out with a five-man defense that featured both Candreva and Darmian as wingbacks, as they both routinely caused problems for Belgium. It was a good performance for an Italy team that had many question marks heading into this tournament but most importantly it’s something to build off of as they now prepare for Sweden.
Man of the Match:
Piero Fiorino: Leonardo Bonucci
Analysis: Bonucci not only threaded the ball to a perfectly placed Emanuele Giaccherini for the Italians first goal, but he created multiple chances for the Azzurri that kept the Belgian team on their heels.
Richard Bowman: Emanuele Giaccherini
Analysis: Giaccherini was everywhere for Italy, he was helping out up front, in the midfield, and even providing help on defense, plus he opened things up for Italy in the 31st minute. This could be the start of something special for Giaccherini in the Azzurri jersey.
Player that needs to step up against Sweden:
Piero Fiorino: Daniele De Rossi
Richard Bowman: Eder
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