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Belgium wait on De Bruyne and Hazard

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TEAM NEWS

Belgium have fitness doubts over key duo Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard after the pair picked up injuries in their last-16 victory over Austria.

Full-back Timothy Castagne has re-joined the squad following a fractured eye socket, but is unlikely to feature.

Italy may have Giorgio Chiellini available again after missing the last two games with a muscle strain.

Full-back Alessandro Florenzi is back training with the squad following a calf issue.

  • Italy beat Austria after extra time – Highlights

This is the tie of the round and the bad news for Belgium is that Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard aren’t going to be fully fit after they were injured in their win against Portugal.

I was impressed by the way Belgium dug in for that win, but this is going to be another huge test for their defence.

Of all the teams that are left in this tournament, the one I like the look of the most in every department is Italy.

If you look back at pretty much every major finals that I can remember, the eventual winners have one knockout game where they don’t play as well as they can and scrape through.

If Italy get through this tie, however they do it, they have got a great chance of winning the whole thing. I don’t think they have got many weaknesses, put it that way.

 

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • This is the fifth match between the sides at a major tournament, but the first in the knockout stage.
  • Italy have won three of the previous four encounters at a major tournament, drawing the other.
  • Italy’s 2-0 triumph in Lyon in the group stage at Euro 2016 is their most recent game against Belgium. Emanuele Giaccherini scored after 32 minutes before Graziano Pelle added a second in injury-time.

Belgium

  • Belgium were knocked out in the quarter-finals of Euro 2016, losing 3-1 to Wales.
  • They have won 11 of their last 13 games (D2), scoring 32 goals and conceding eight.
  • Belgium have lost just one of their last 27 games (W23, D3).
  • Their only defeat since the start of 2019 was 2-1 against England at Wembley in the Nations League in October.
  • They have scored in each of their last 34 games, last failing to net in the 1-0 loss to France in the 2018 World Cup semi-final.
  • Since Roberto Martinez’s first game in charge in September 2016, they have won more games (47) and scored more goals (175) than any other European nation.
  • Thorgan Hazard has provided four goals and two assists in his last seven starts.

Italy

  • Italy have reached the European Championship quarter-finals for the fourth tournament in a row.
  • Their three most recent quarter-final appearances have all been decided by a penalty shoot-out – losing to Spain in 2008, beating England in 2012 and losing to Germany in 2016.
  • Italy have won a national record 12 games in a row, scoring 34 goals and conceding one.
  • They are unbeaten in a national record 31 games (W26, D5) since losing 1-0 to Portugal in the Nations League in September 2018.
  • They conceded their first goal since October in extra time against Austria, ending a run of 19 hours and 28 minutes without conceding.
  • Matteo Pessina could become the first Italy player to score in three consecutive matches at the Euros.