The number one team ranked in the world, they were the favourites to win the tournament after France and Portugal and Germany were knocked out in the RO16 of UEFA Euro 2020. Even before the match started analysts predicted that Belgium would give Italy a fight for their ‘unbeaten run. Belgium was thought to be the team that had the potential to break the Italian defence and could counter Roberto Mancini’s tactics. The view of the match was quite the opposite.
From the start, The Azzurri were pressing, attacking and nullifying any attempt that the Belgians were mustering. The Italian wall of defence, namely Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci made the defence impregnable.
The match ended with a scoreline of 2-1 with Italy kicking the best team in the world out of the tournament. Italy broke the deadlock in the 31st minute as Nicolo Barella scored the opener after a Leonardo Bonucci goal was disallowed in the 13th minute as VAR deemed it as offside. The Italians struck again in the 44th minute with a world-class curler from the Naples man Lorenzo Insigne strengthening the lead.
The Belgians got back one just before halftime as they concede a penalty just before halftime which Romelu Lukaku blasted in the net.
The second half began with Belgium trying their best to retaliate and get another goal to even out the scoreline. But the Italian defence did not let that ball cross the goal line. Gianluigi Donnarumma the Italian shot-stopper deserves quite some appreciation as he was spectacular between the poles. He made good decisions every time the ball came near his goal. He showed courage, good reflexes and positioned himself well to stop everything the Belgians threw at him.
Kevin De Bruyne deserves a special mention as he played through a 90-minute match with a ligament injury in his ankle and was one of the bright spots in the Belgian team. He was the source of most of the chances that were created to score and was on top of his game last night
Jeremy Doku, the Rennes youngster showed great potential, he was running up and down the field the whole time whether it was to attack or defend. He tried his best to create as well as score in the match, he even got some great shots on target but Donnarumma was on top of his game.
The Italians were never considered a title contender; they surely were developing behind the curtains as they came into this tournament with a solid motivation and a long unbeaten run. But that’s how the tables turn in a football match; a team which no one considered a threat are now title contenders and are riding the top spot to win this tournament. All thanks to Roberto Mancini’s tactics and the hard work of the players, the world is finally seeing the team Italy used to be. They just eliminated the most star-studded team of the tournament and they did it competitively as Italy looked like a threat for most of the match.
Italy was considered the dark horse but the only question that hovered above our heads was that whether they’ll collapse against a big team? Or will they continue to dominate? I guess the picture is getting clearer now and the doubts of Italy winning the title of UEFA EURO2020 are now dispersing as they move into the semi-finals where they will have to face Luis Enrique’s Spain to progress to the finals.
Belgians on the other hand will be leaving with a heavy heart and will prepare and try to come back with more determination and resilience.
Italy hasn’t lost a match since the start of the tournament, will it be the ‘La Furia Roja’ who will end this streak or will Luis Enrique’s tactics and team crumble just like all the others?