That was the best way Italy could start the European Championship, especially because they were facing Belgium, the best team of their group. The Red Devils have one of the most talented rosters in the tournament, but tonight they couldn’t do anything against a gutsy performance by the Azzurri as Italy emerged 2-0 winners to start Euro 2016.
Antonio Conte sent on the field his typical 3-5-2 lineup with the Juventus’ trio covering Gianluigi Buffon, Matteo Darmian and Antonio Candreva on the wings, Daniele De Rossi as playmaker and the Eder-Graziano Pellè duo as forwards and it definitely paid off. The team worked together like a perfect machine and displayed an unexpectedly good athletic condition that allowed them to limit Belgium for a big part of the match.
Emanuele Giaccherini put the Azzurri on top with a great movement behind the Red Devils’ defensive line perfectly served by Leonardo Bonucci with a smooth long ball from midfield. Italy never stopped to try and put a lot of pressure on Belgium’s defenders who seemed in trouble more than once, but Thibaut Courtois was there to save them. At the beginning of second half, they even had a huge opportunity on a great through ball by Kevin De Bruyne for Romelu Lukaku but the Belgian striker couldn’t find the bottom of the net on a one-on-one situation against Buffon.
Italy had a lot of problems to contain the Red Devils in the last 25 minutes, but Divock Origi missed some great opportunities in front of the goal on a couple of defensive errors. Fortunately, their hyper-offensive setup left a lot of open space for the Azzurri to counterattack and Pellè finally sealed the final 2-0 with a nice volley in the stoppage time. Mattia De Sciglio and Ciro Immobile, who subbed in for Darmian and Eder, were really important for the team during that tough moments.
It’s a great way to start Euro 2016 and show everybody that despite their lack of talent, the Azzurri can count on their chemistry.