Italy arrive at Euro 2016 hungry for success after suffering defeat in the final of the competition four years ago. The memory of that 4-0 loss to Spain in Kiev is still painful for the Azzurri and Antonio Conte’s men will be determined to go one better in this summer’s showpiece.
Monday’s Group E opener against World Cup 2014 quarter-finalists Belgium is certain to test Italy’s credentials, for Marc Wilmots’ men are themselves considered in many quarters to be genuine contenders to be crowned as the continent’s champions in France and this clash is certainly one of the more eye-catching meetings in the first round of fixtures.
Indeed, Belgium can be backed at 6/4 (2.50) with Betway to get their campaign off to a perfect start with victory here, while the odds compilers go 21/10 (3.10) that it is Conte’s charges who pick up all three points from this clash. Italy have drawn more games at the European Championships – 15 – than any other nation and, therefore, the 21/10 (3.10) quote for this match to end in stalemate is certainly not without appeal.
Both Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli – key protagonists in Italy’s run to the final four years ago – have been omitted from Conte’s 23-man-squad this time around, while injury has robbed the Azzurri of midfield duo Marco Verratti and Claudio Marchisio.
Consequently, Italy have placed an emphasis on functionality rather than flair and the individual star quality that has so often proven pivotal for the Azzurri appears to be in short supply this time around.
The same cannot be said of Belgium, with Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku all likely to line up for Marc Wilmots’ men in Lyon. Instead, their weakness lies at the back; Vincent Kompany, Nicolas Lombaerts, Bjorn Engels and Dedryk Boyata are absent through injury, leaving the Belgians depleted in their defensive resources.
Attack, therefore, could prove to be Belgium’s best form of defence this summer and there is value to be had in backing goals galore when Wilmots’ charges take to the field.
The last five encounters between these two nations has produced 18 goals and, with that in mind, the 7/5 (2.40) quote from Betway for more than two goals to be scored represents decent value for punters, while the same firm go 21/20 (2.05) that there are goals at both ends – a selection that would have landed in eight of Belgium’s last nine fixtures.
Belgium proved too hot to handle for Italy when the two teams locked horns in a friendly fixture back in November, with Wilmots' side running out as 3-1 winners on that occasion and they can be trusted to repeat that feat.
Punters, therefore, are advised to back Belgium to open their Euro 2016 campaign with a win at Betway’s generous 6/4 (2.50) quote ahead of Monday's crucial clash.
|Belgium to beat Italy at 6/4 (2.50) for a 2pt stake with Betway|