Featured, Football

#Euro2016: Belgium 0-2 Italy – Match Summary, Player Analysis

Have you ever seen The Italian Job? The world has and it was showcased tonight.

Italy went against all odds and emerged victorious over a star-studded Belgium team at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Décines-Charpieu earlier in the morning, which puts them top of Group E after an enthralling 1-1 draw between Ireland and Sweden in Saint-Denis.

The self-proclaimed Red Devils had the luxury of fielding the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois in their starting line-up whereas newly-appointed Chelsea manager Antonio Conte stuck to his old guns with a Juventus back-four of Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci all getting the nod ahead of others. Marc Wilmots surprisingly left Atletico Madrid sensation Fernando Carrasco out of his eleven.

Italy dominated the match from the get go but had less dribbles, possession, and shots than their opposite number. However, they were dominant in terms of aerial duels and tackles. The 2006 FIFA World Cup winners opened the scoring through ex-Sunderland flop Emanuele Giaccherini on the 32nd minute after he was on the receiving end of Leonardo Bonucci’s through ball and calmly placed it past the Chelsea goalkeeper. The Italians doubled their lead on the 90th minute when Graziano Pelle volleyed the ball in after a Antonio Candreva cross.

Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Candreva, Giorgio Chiellini and even Eden Hazard gave their everything for their countries but three players stood the tallest at the end of the night.

Graziano Pelle

Photo Credit: Twitter
Photo Credit: Twitter

The six-foot-four striker was instrumental in Italy’s triumph over Belgium today mainly because of his terrifying presence as a target man up front. The Southampton player won six out of six aerial duels and constantly put pressure on the Belgian defensive line with good link-ups between his teammates. He capped off his performance with a fine goal in the dying stages of the game but could have had more if he had taken his chances more decisively.

Leonardo Bonucci

Photo Credit: Twitter
Photo Credit: Twitter

The Juventus centre-back was absolutely brilliant in the sweeper role throughout the entire match. He was confident and never seemed to be bothered with the presence of Romelu Lukaku, who was kept in the Italian’s pocket since Mark Clattenburg blew the whistle to begin the match. He also made Andrea Pirlo proud after delivering a sweet through ball to Emanuele Giaccherini, who scored the opening goal ten minutes before the first-half ended.

Emanuele Giaccherini

Photo Credit: Twitter
Photo Credit: Twitter

The Bologna man, who is currently on loan from English Premier League side Sunderland, produced a decent effort alongside Daniele De Rossi and Marco Parolo in midfield and got his country up and running after controlling the ball beautifully from a Leonardo Bonucci past and slotting it past Thibaut Courtois to open the lead for the Italians. He was helped out in defence after making an important interception to deny Kevin De Bruyne a shot at goal.


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