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Italy stuns Euro favorites Belgium


Italy is known for its rich history, but coming into this summer’s Euro 2016, the Azzurri really weren’t considered among the favorites. Monday’s result certainly put Antonio Conte’s side back on the map though.

Italy captured an impressive 2-0 win against Group E favorites Belgium, behind goals from Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle.

The Italians stunned Belgium in the 32nd minute after Giaccherini slotted the Azzurri in front. Leonardo Bonucci’s weighted through ball found the feet of the Sunderland midfielder alone in the penalty area, before calmly side-footing his effort beyond goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

A late counterattack saw Pelle blast home Italy’s second in stoppage time, guaranteeing the four-time World Cup champions all three points.

Despite the assortment of attacking options for the Red Devils, Belgium struggled to break down Italy’s backline in the opening 45 minutes.

Both teams came out lively in the second half, and Belgium nearly nicked an equalizer in the 53rd minute. Romelu Lukaku was sent in on goal from Kevin de Bruyne’s through ball, but the Everton striker narrowly missed over the goal. Italy then came down the opposite end, with Graziano Pelle forcing a sprawling save out of Courtois.

Second-half substitute Divock Origi almost made an instant impact for the Belgians after receiving a perfect cross from De Bruyne with eight minutes remaining. The Liverpool forward’s header from close range missed over the bar, though, allowing Italy to breathe a sigh of relief.

Italy will continue its Euro 2016 journey against Sweden on June 17, while Belgium meets Ireland the following afternoon.


While Emanuele Giaccherini’s finish gave Italy the win, it was Leonardo Bonucci that stood tall all the night against FIFA’s second-ranked side.


As the match progressed, it looked more and more like Italy could pull out a result. Graziano Pelle’s lovely volley in the 92nd minute assured the Azzurri that all three points were theirs.


Belgium’s attack misfired most of the night, but Romelu Lukaku‘s struggles were among the most disappointing for Marc Wilmots’ side. The striker arguably had the best chance of the night for the Red Devils on a breakaway but couldn’t find a way past Gianluigi Buffon.


  1. Belgium’s weak link seems to be Vermailon at CB. On the pass that led to the first goal he was even with Giaccherini and when the ball was coming he stopped and jumped and the ball went over his head. He totally misjudged the flight of the ball, allowing for the goal. Later on he was marking a player in the middle and got totally out jumped/out hustled on a cross. The Italian got a good head on the ball and should have scored, but headed the ball too close to
    Courtois. I thought Ciman looked pretty good at RB.

    • I thought Ciman was at least partially responsible for the goal. He just lets Giacharini run right by him, so perhaps guilty of poor communication with his CB if nothing else. The real mistake was not pressuring Bonucci and letting him pick out his pass.

  2. AMAZING, vintage performance by Italy. If Italy were fortunate, they’ve been getting lucky like that for ages. They were a real group, playing together for each other, evidenced by that extra pass on the final goal, which was a product of patience, experience, and love-your-fellow-teammate. They gave a tactical lesson to everyone at the Euros. Defending is still beautiful. Belgium missed their chances but also never looked ready to score.

      • I’ve got tickets for a round of 16 match 43 at the stade de france. Tried two others but lost in the lottery… might yet find a seat for the final but we’ll see. thanks for asking

  3. Italy definitely is not… Italy gave up some glorious chances to a strong Belgium side that simply didn’t have the finishing skill and toughness to break the Catenaccio down. Also, that was a masterclass in tactical fouling and defend and counter style. Maybe this loss will wake Belgium up?

      • I believe that is the case. Tournament favorites are more along the lines of Germany, Spain, and France. While Belgium is still considered a team that can win it all, I don’t think they are tournament favorites. They have a lot of talent, but the question is whether or not they can put it together. They seem to lack a general team identity, so they ultimately rely to heavily on individual skill, but that can only get you so far.

      • I think they just said favorites in the their Group (Italy, Ireland, Sweden) so yes they were.

        Headline to this very story: Italy stuns Euro favorites Belgium

        Did you actually read the headline or just what I posted?

      • Old School – I believe the idea is that the headline is incorrect (assuming tournament favorites versus group favorites). I don’t think any news publications are favoring Belgium to win it all, although they certainly can. As I mentioned, most pundits/news publications are looking at Germany, Spain, and France as the tournament favorites.

        Note, I have not seen every article about the Euro’s, so there may be those that favor Belgium, but I have only read about the 3 teams I mentioned as being favorites.

      • Old School – I believe the idea is that the headline is incorrect (assuming tournament favorites versus group favorites). I don’t think any news publications are favoring Belgium to win it all, although they certainly can.

        ….hence my original question. We just went full circle for no reason.

      • Sorry Old School apparently you just read the headline and I just read the article. I guess we’ll call it even.

      • No need to apologize, but it was evident you didn’t read my post or the headline. Slow down before responding and we’ll be even.

    • Belgium were absolutely among the favorites to win the Euros, but goes to show this sport depends as much on spirit as on technique and that paper fantasy predictions are useless before the first game is played.

      • Well I know that many scoff at FIFA rankings, but currently Belgium are the highest ranked European team (ranked 2nd behind Argentina; Germany are ranked below them in 4th place). People have been talking for a few years now how talented this current batch of players is. There is enough there to say they were among the favorites to win the tournament.

      • Which is what I said, they are/were favorites. But I think people derive too much from paper formations and individual talent, whereas the collective is just if not even more important.

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