6 Things We Learned From Belgium 0-2 Italy


Italy Could Be The Greece Of This Tournament

Don’t pretend you knew it was going to happen. You’ve been telling everyone how they’re rubbish and they don’t have a chance etc etc. Well, one thing they do have is the best defence in this tournament, if they get ahead teams could be in trouble.

The quality across this competition’s top 10 teams or so is very similar. The last time a competition was this eve, Greece won it back in 2004. They based that on a solid defence, worked incredibly hard and then hit teams on the break, from set pieces or with well-placed direct passes (not aimless long balls).

Italy have more than that, they are a better team than the Greeks were but they are massively unfancied, or at least they were. They attacked superbly and played out from the back, something we haven’t seen Italy do for some time, and Conte got it right. Greece won each of their games by just one goal in 2004 and conceded just two goals. They had an incredible togetherness and the scenes after the Italian opener showed that the Azzurri have that in bucket loads. Italy, welcome to the tournament. 

 

The Italian National Anthem Wil Always Be the Greatest In The Euros 

 

Romelu Lukaku Has Shades Of Emile Heskey

The Belgium striker has been tipped for great things for a few years now and in flashes he has shown it. When he gets it right he is impossible to deal with, but how often does he actually get it right?

He has everything in his locker to be a top class forward. Pace, power, strength, it is all there in bucket loads but sometimes he finds it hard to combine all of that and come up with an end product. He hit 25 goals this term but he didn’t score any in his last 10 games.

He can easily be compared to former England striker Emile Heskey. Ok, people will argue that Lukaku has scored far more goals than Heskey and his qualities are far an above that of the former Liverpool man. However, Heskey was once very highly rated and scored 22 and 14 goals respectively over two seasons for a good Liverpool team. He never quite knew how to throw all the ingredients together and at times ended up looking clumsy and lethargic, much like Lukaku. People tend to forget that Heskey was unplayable on his day.

The Belgian is still young but he has a lot to learn before he becomes the world class striker he already thinks he is. 

 

Belgium Are A Team Far Less Than The Sum Of Their Parts

This Belgium outfit have some wonderfully gifted footballers both at the front and the back of their side, yet you can’t help but think they should be a little better than they actually are. They are missing Vincent Kompany at the back, yet they still persist with Jan Vertonghen at left back, despite his prowess as a central defender.

In midfield, Marouane Fellaini gets the nod in a midfield three with the cheif role of creating the Red Devils attacking play, yet the talent of Dembele is left on the bench and both Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are shifted out wide.

Obviously, much of this has to do with Marc Wilmots and his selection and tactics and he must shoulder some of that blame. The players are lacking freedom and fluidity, it is all very dull and they lack belief. Nevertheless, the quality this team possess means they could still win the competition, such is the mean quality of teams across this tournament. 

 

Chelsea Fans Should Be Excited By Conte

The Italy boss is probably the only manager in this competition who is worthy of a top job at one of Europe’s biggest club, and that’s why he has one. Many of the managers in France are either at the end of their careers or simply not on the same playing field.

He got it absolutely perfect here. In the first half his defence pushed high and invited Belgium wide to try and get at the resolute back three. They couldn’t do it. In an attacking sense, the small space between the defence and attack allowed for rapid transition and meant that Italy could break quickly and have plenty if players involved in the attack, or simply play a wonderful through ball for Giaccherini to finish off. 

In the second half, e placed faith in his excellent defence. They held out and protected Gianluigi Buffon superbly. It was a masterclass and showed just why Chelsea were so keen on getting him this summer. He's a little bit Mourinho.

 

Giaccherini Arrives As A Joke, Leaves As A Legend

Emmanuel Giaccherini could not even make the Sunderland squad for the majority of this season. His selection was scrutinised by many. So, obviously he scored a lovely opener to silence the masses.