This crunch Euro U21 group match pits struggling Belgium against dominant Italy. The Belgians have been unlucky in their opening two matches against Poland and Spain coming out on the wrong side of a 2-1 loss against the Spanish and a 3-2 loss against the Polish. They still have feint hopes of qualifying, needing both a victory here against Italy and need Poland to beat Spain to have any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Italy on the other hand have beaten Spain convincingly 3-1 and surprisingly lost to Poland 1-0 after completing dominating the match, amassing a total of 30 shots against the Polish. You’ve still got to fancy Italy’s chances of qualifying, given they currently sit top of the second-placed rankings and given Belgium’s troubles this tournament, you’d be expecting them to take the three points on Saturday.
As I previously said, not much can be taken from their loss to Poland, as they completely dominated the match from start to finish, they just couldn’t find the breakthrough. I’m expecting Liugi Di Biagio to have given his star players a proper grilling and I’m expecting a few to have even been dropped in this crunch match. The likes of Federico Chiesa and Patrick Cutrone may start on the bench after their dismal efforts against Poland. With so much at stake for the Italians, I just can’t see them slipping up in similar fashion as the Poland game.
Italy undoubtedly have the better squad on paper and probably one of the best in the tournament, with such an attacking threat in the form of Federico Chiesa, Moise Kean & Patrick Cutrone as their leading striker. This was fully on show in the first match as they dispatched Spain, but after failing to find the scoresheet against Poland, you can presume that Moise Kean will return to the starting lineup.
This coupled with the creative threats of Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini really does spell trouble for the Belgians, who have conceded five goals in their opening two matches. Luigi Di Biagio made some changes in defence for their second match against Poland, but I’m expecting Kevin Bonifazi to make his return to the starting eleven alongside Gianluci Mancini.
Looking into Belgium’s last two matches and their starting lineups, it’s been more a change of shape than a change of personnel. Belgian boss Johan Walem will need to keep the match tight if his team are to get a result from this match. I’m expecting him to pack the midfield with a couple of midfielders sitting just in front of the back four for that added protection.
As I’ve alluded to throughout this preview, I’m definitely expecting Italy to get the win here but at odds as low as 1.33, I won’t be backing them for the straight win. One avenue I would go down is Italy Win & Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80, as they’ve proved against Spain and Poland, they create a lot of chances. If the likes of Kean & Chiesa are on form come Saturday evening, this really could be a rout.
Another market that I liked the look of – The Anytime Goal-Scorer market, after his brace against Spain in the first match, I’m backing Moise Kean to make a goalscoring return to the starting XI. You can get him to score anytime @ 1.90, or if you’re feeling adventurous you could back 2 or more goals @ 5.50.