Going into the final tournament as reigning European champions, Italy will have had high hopes of adding the Nations League to their Euro 2020 crown but they faced a tough semi-final against Spain. Italy reached the final four after an unbeaten finish in League A1, finishing one point clear of Netherlands with three wins and three draws from their six matches. However, life post-Euros hasn’t been great for Italy and their record has now stretched to just one win in their past four games (two draws) as Spain ran out 2-1 winners in Milan on Wednesday evening. Ferran Torres scored both goals for Spain in a first half that also saw Leonardo Bonucci sent off for two yellow cards. Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back for Italy in the final 10 minutes, but Roberto Mancini’s men were unable to turn things around and thus ended their world-record 37-game unbeaten run.
Belgium, meanwhile, will have been hoping to use the Nations League to get over their quarter-final exit at Euro 2020 – a tournament some feel may have been the last opportunity for their ‘Golden Generation’ to win a major trophy. The Red Devils were almost perfect in the group stage of the Nations League, finishing top of Group A2, five points clear of Denmark and England with five wins and just one defeat (to the Three Lions). And they got their semi-final off to an excellent start, leading France 2-0 at half-time thanks to goals from Yannick Carrasco and Romelu Lukaku. But they allowed France back into the game and eventually lost as Theo Hernandez scored a 90th-minute winner after Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe had draw Les Bleus level.
Italy vs Belgium: Match Stats
Italy are without their big goalscorers for this game so once again Lorenzo Insigne will take some of the attacking responsibility. The Napoli forward is the top goalscorer in the Italian squad with 10 goals, though he has made 50 appearances. However, in what may be an open game Insigne could strike.
Belgium will be suffering mentally from their crumble against France and Italy should be looking to strike. The Nations League third-placed play-off has the possibility of going to extra-time if these sides are level after 90 minutes which could play into Italy’s hands as they won three games at Euro 2020 after extra-time, including two penalty shootouts.
Games between Italy and Belgium don’t come around too often, with just 24 in total, though the most recent was just a few months ago. En route to winning Euro 2020, Italy beat Belgium 2-1 thanks to first-half goals from Nicolo Barella and Lorenzo Insigne.