For those who follow Serie A and the likes of Juventus week in, week out, Italy’s outstanding 2-0 victory against Belgium wasn’t as big a shock as it was to others. The BBC commentators seemed surprised that this team of players who they weren’t familiar with could defeat a team of Premier League stars (meaning they didn’t have a clue who was lining up for the Azzurri). There was a massive clash between styles in the game on Monday evening and only Italy was ever going to come out on top.
The Belgium side was full of stars that most fans would be familiar with due to their presence in the Premier League but it was more than evident that this Belgium team was not a “team”, but rather a team full of individuals who were only playing for personal glory. Eden Hazard was the captain when they had Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen and Thomas Vermaelen at the back, each of whom are more than capable of being a better leader than the Chelsea winger.
The manager Marc Wilmots made a catalogue of errors against Italy, who showed how to contain a top team and remain a huge attacking threat at the same time. Players like Graziano Pelle and Eder knew their role in the side, and it was rather amusing that Emmanuel Giaccharini, who was lambasted on social media because he “couldn’t get into the Sunderland side”, opened the scoring and was outstanding.
This game was a perfect example of a great team in Italy, who understood each other and their own individual roles in the team, against a Belgium side who weren’t interested, and weren’t good enough to break down the best defence at club level (all four play for Italian champions Juventus) and at the European Championships.
I’m sure there is a correlation of a bunch of Premier League players being outsmarted tactically, and when two players brought on from Serie A and La Liga came on, they understood how to attack a defence like this. For some, it must be blasphemy to say anything negative about the Premier League, but the Italians outsmarted the Belgium team out of the Premier League… surely that must mean something?