Belgium vs Italy by Isaiah
Belgians have made significant progress in recent years and recently, have been even first ranked side at the FIFA list, even though they are yet to achieve major success at biggest events. Their fans hope for something like that to happen at this year's European championship, especially since they have gained additional experience during the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.
The team is coming here with big ambitions, while there's no doubt that they will be having great support from the stands since they will play in neighbouring France. As for the qualifications, the team finished first in the group, above nations like Wales, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Cyprus and Andorra, in quite an equal group at the first sight. They had also five friendly matches from that moment on, winning three of them, having one draw and a loss.
In the last friendly matches played in last twenty days, they won over Switzerland and Noway, but also drew against Finland. However, it must be said that coach Wilmots was constantly changing the team and formation during these matches, mostly as he had plenty of problems with injuries of his players. Defenders Kompany, Lombaerts and Boyata were taken off the list of participants for this EURO, which means that the team's only problems will be in the defensive lineup. Especially since Thomas Vermaelen isn't fully fit for the game against Italians.
Main strength of Italian side will once again be huge experience, especially in the defense since three players are still from the team that was World champion back in 2006 - Bonucci, Barzagli and Chielini, together with goalkeeper Buffon. On the other side, Italian team does need fresh blood, especially in midfield and attack, which is the main reason why many believe that the team won't be fully creative during the EURO.
No doubt that their group is very demanding, since Belgium, Sweden and Ireland do stand out as highly competitive sides. Their manager Conte believes that the team can go very far, since the Italians generally play traditionally well in big tournaments. They did well in qualifications, winning seven matches and having three draws, which was good enough to take the first position in a group. However, the team drew twice and lost two matches in four preparation games they had after the qualifiers
The things have improved significantly in last two friendly games they had, winning over Scotland and Finland in last two weeks. Thiago Motta and Daniele De Rossi seem sure in the midfield, while Eder and Graziano Pelle are expected to lead the attack.
Belgium is one of favorites this Summer and are probably closer to get the victory here as well, however my first choice will be goals. They are offensive side and will surely try to be as attacking as possible, but with their defense having number of injuries, I see Italians also responding in a similar manner. Odds are definitely worth a try.