One of pre-tournament favorites Belgium took on an under-confident and depleted Italian side who were completely written off by the media prior to the start of Euro 2016. The end result however, saw Antonio Conte’s side outsmart the Belgians in a 2-0 win.
While the defeat left Belgium with much to ponder about, Italy on the other hand would look to build on the result against the Red Devils and kick on in the remaining game of competition.
Following the full-time result at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, we take a look at key talking points and things learned from Italy’s 2-0 win over Belgium.
Never count out the Italians
Their worst squad or not, Italy will always be one of the most consistent teams at a major tournament. Like Germany, Italians know how to win big games and that is why it was a fool’s call to write off The Azzuries even before the tournament began. After the 2-0 win over Belgium, other teams would now be wary of going against Italy at Euro 2016.
Are we expecting too much from Belgium?
Ranked number 1 team in Europe, Belgium were expected to start their Euro 2016 campaign on a high, instead, they flattered to deceive every one with a weak display against Italy. The sheer lack of tactical awareness was appalling from Belgium as at no point did they look like having an upper hand in the game.
Antonio Conte’s tactics work just fine
Like Italy’s squad strength, pundits were unsure of Conte’s 3-5-2 system but what we saw was a tactical masterclass from the Italians. Playing with 2 strikers up front, Conte relied on his wing backs to provide the width while the central defenders held their own and never allowed Belgium to take control of the match.
Fellaini, De Bruyne should have been taken off
Marc Wilmots has the best squad in Europe at the moment and yet somehow he fails to deliver the results when it matters. Belgium were knocked out at round of 16 stage at the World Cup and after last night’s defeat, one cannot be certain of them going too far at Euro 2016 either.
Wilmots failed to identify the weak spots in his squad last night and when he should have taken off the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Kevin De Bruyne, he took off Radja Nainggolan and was too late in sending Yannick Carrasco on the field. These little tactical errors could lead to a disastrous Euro 2016 campaign for Belgium.
Not may teams would be able to go past Italy’s defense
I really feel for the strikers going against Italy at Euro 2016 this summer. Combination of Chiellini, Barzagali and Bonucci is perhaps the best central defensive trio in World Football at the moment.
They are strong, fearless and certainly inch-perfect tacklers. Not to forget they have Gigi Buffon behind them to ensure if anything is left unguarded, he takes care of it like he did with Romelu Lukaku’s one-vs-one chance early in the second half.