It’s the No. 1 team in the world (Belgium) against the hottest men’s national team in the world (Italy) in one of the standout matches of the Euro 2021 quarterfinals.
The Italians are on a team-record 31-game unbeaten run and after breezing through the group stage, they overcame the toughest test in the Round of 16 against Austria. The Azzurri proved they can scrap and claw their way to a win when their typically flowing attack isn’t clicking.
While Italy is on a fine run, it’s Belgium that will be feeling the pressure of needing to deliver in one of the final tournaments for its so-called golden generation of players. But things haven’t come easy for Belgium, which found a way to hold on to a 1-0 victory against defending champion Portugal in the Round of 16.
How to watch Italy vs. Belgium
- Date: Friday, July 2
- Time: 3 pm ET
- TV channel: ESPN
- Streaming: fuboTV , ESPN app, PrendeTV
ESPN will carry the match in English. Fans can also stream it on fuboTV with a free 7-day trial. It will be streamed in Spanish on Univision’s PrendeTV.
Are De Bruyne, Hazard out for Belgium?
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez hasn’t provided any hints as to what will occur with his two injured stars, De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, who picked up their knocks against Portugal. Belgian reports are projecting De Bruyne to play even if not 100 percent fit from the ankle injury he suffered.
Hazard, who has been injury-plagued for most of the last couple of seasons is not expected to feature, with Dries Mertens or Yannick Carrasco taking his place.
The Italians will have their full-strength starting lineup, including Giorgio Chiellini, who will match up against Romelu Lukaku. They are also expected to have the home-field advantage with 10,000 Italians making the trek to Munich, Germany.
Italy-Belgium projected lineups
Italy (4-3-3, left to right): Donnarumma — Spinazzola, Chiellini, Bonucci, Di Lorenzo — Verratti, Jorginho, Barella, Insigne, Immobile, Chiesa
Belgium (5-2-3, left to right): Courtois — T. Hazard, Vertonghen, Vermaelen, Alderweireld, Meunier — Witsel, Tielemans — Carrasco, Lukaku, De Bruyne
Italy vs. Belgium: Odds & prediction
Belgium has struggled against the best teams it has faced in this tournament (Denmark and Portugal) and you can argue that it’s had luck on its side based on the stats: 8 goals converted on 4.3 expected goals per FBref.
It’s also a team that’s heavily dependent on Lukaku for its goal-scoring and on De Bruyne for its attacking ideas. If De Bruyne is significantly hindered by his injury and Italy can neutralize Lukaku the way it has other forwards during this tournament (just one goal conceded), the Italians have a strong chance to advance.
Italy will create chances: The Azzurri had more than 1.5 expected goals in all four of their matches. Their players’ 1-on-1 ability and their penchant for pushing forward and combining in the attack, means that Italy can solve the toughest defensive set-ups and create havoc in the opposition’s box. Plus, Belgium’s older back line is considered the weakest point of the team, though it hasn’t cost the Red Devils so far during the tournament.
Belgium is coming across the wrong team at the wrong time. Beating a Portugal team that was disorganized with its attacking movements is one thing. Italy will have clearer ideas and should find a way to break through. It will not suit Belgium to be chasing.
Given that set-up, the Italy -0.25 Asian Handicap is attractive in this case and presents a good risk/reward proposition.
Prediction: Italy 2, Belgium 0
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
- Belgium to win (90 mins): +240
- Belgium to advance: +135
- Draw (90 mins): +210
- Italy to win (90 mins): +135
- Italy to advance: -159
- Italy to score over 1.5 goals: +160
- Italy to score first and win: +160
- Italy -0.25 Asian Handicap: -103