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Experienced Italy Stuns Young Belgium To Go Top of Group E

www.eurosports.com

Italy produced a stunning performance to beat Belgium 2-0 in a high-octane clash that lived up to its expectations as one of the stand-out fixtures of the group stage.

Sunderland  midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini, who spent last season on loan at Bologna, gave the Azzurri the lead when he showed real composure to tuck away his fourth goal for his country just past the half hour after a sensational, raking pass from Leonardo Bonucci.   Belgium may be ranked as the second best side in the FIFA world rankings but their build-up play was far too pedestrian
against a vibrant Italian side that caused them all sorts of problems with their high pressing wing backs. Italy's 3-5-2 system certainly seemed to flummox Belgium. The high pressing, rapid tempo of the Azzurri made the Belgian stars look slow and sluggish in possession until Wilmots made some changes to his tactics and personnel late on.
The Red Devils have some real attacking talent at their disposal but the likes of Romelu Lukaku looked way off the pace. Italy have a system that works and a coach the players all believe in.

Theyreached the final at the last Euros and have pedigree which means you'd tip them to go further than the much-fancied Belgians on this evidence.       
Marc Wilmots threw caution to the wind as the game wore on and the Belgians had big chances through the toothless Romelu Lukaku and substitute Divock Origi, but Italy's rearguard stood firm and Southampton's Graziano Pelle sealed the victory with a thumping volley in stoppage time.
The Red Devils boast a squad brimming with talent but failed to gel as a collective and are now bottom of Group E behind Ireland and Sweden who drew earlier in the day. It was earmarked as one of the toughest pools when the draw was made and Belgium now have it all to do to live up to the expectation heaped upon them as the so-called "golden generation". Italy don't often go into Euro openers as the underdogs but they showed real desire and a strong team ethic that suggests they could yet prove their doubters wrong and go deep into this competition.


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