Football News

‘Best CBs in the world’ – Italy duo win the ultimate praise after win v Belgium at Euro 2020

By Chris Smith

Published: 10:53, 3 July 2021 | Updated: 12:59, 5 July 2021

Bastian Schweinsteiger believes Italian duo Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci are the best centre-backs in the world right now. 

The veteran pair have been rock-solid at the heart of the Azzurri defence at Euro 2020 so far, helping Italy go all the way to the semi-final after their 2-1 defeat of Belgium on Friday night.

Despite now being 36 years old, Chiellini has been his usual, dominant self, ranking second among Roberto Mancini’s squad for clearances (9) while no player at Euro 2020 has managed to dribble past him yet.

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Romelu Lukaku did manage to breach the Italian defence, but only from the penalty spot after Jeremy Doku went down inside the box under slight contact from Giovanni Di Lorenzo.

That means Italy are yet to concede from open play at Euro 2020, with Saša Kalajdžić’s goal for Austria in the round-of-16 coming from a corner with Bonucci away from the play and Chiellini not even on the pitch. Of the sides remaining in the tournament, only Denmark (13) have conceded fewer shots inside the box than Italy (20), though the Danes have played one game less.

“Bonucci and Chiellini are currently the best centre-backs in the world,” Schweinsteiger wrote on Twitter toward the end of Italy’s quarter-final win, using the ‘experience’ hashtag.

Following their impressive victory over the Red Devils, Italy will play Spain in the knockout rounds of the European Championships for the fourth consecutive tournament after Luis Enrique’s men beat Switzerland on penalties in their quarter-final tie.

Despite arguably being the most impressive team in the competition so far, Mancini has promised there is still more to come from his players in the semi-finals.

“The team has progressed game in, game out,” he said following the Belgium match. “Even when there have been tricky matches, the team has always got better – and there is still room for improvement.

“That’s what I saw in my squad, the desire to play well, to try to bounce back after the disappointment of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup – it was all of those ingredients. But we can still do better.”

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