Belgium v Italy, Monday June 13
Lyon, Live on BBC, 8pm
Belgium finished their qualification campaign five points ahead of Bosnia and two points clear of Wales in second place to book their place at Euro 2016. Unbeaten in five matches at home, Belgium made light work of the weaker teams in their Group and their defence never conceded more than one goal in any of their 10 qualification matches.
In the group stages, they won seven games, drew two and lost one, scoring 24 goals, conceding five and ending up with a +19 goal difference.
Italy were always in control of Group H during qualification, although they made hard work of putting away some of the weaker teams in their pool, scraping past bottom placed Malta with two unconvincing 1-0 victories. Now the challenge gets a lot harder and it remains to be seen whether Italy will be able to turn on the style when it really matters in France this summer.
In the group stages, they won seven games, drew three and lost none, scoring 16 goals, conceding seven and ending up with a +9 goal difference.
In qualification, Belgium were one of only two sides to outshoot their opponents in every single match, and they liked a shot from distance too scoring eight times from outside the box. Defensively they were strong too, one of four sides at the finals not to have conceded more than once in a match during qualifying. They were however undone twice against Norway in their final warm up game ahead of the Euros and they’ll need to keep it tight at the back if they’re to keep Italy at Bay.
The Italians qualified poorly but comfortably, and despite scoring in every one of their Euro 2016 qualification matches, they tended not to batter their opponents, settling instead for a win by the odd goal. Defensively, they demonstrated their ability to soak up a lot of pressure during qualification, facing highest percentage of shots in the first half of matches of any side at Euro 2016 (65.5%). Italy are defensively compact, and uninspiring in attack.
Both these teams will consider the remaining teams in Group E – Ireland & Sweden as slightly easier opponents, and you would think that Italy and Belgium would be happy to kick off their Euro campaigns with a draw.
- Under 2.5 Goals @
- Correct score: 1-1 @
- Belgium to lead at Half-Time & Fail to Win @
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