Belgium vs. Italy Picks: A low-scoring draw awaits
Roberto Mancini has led Italy on a great run of form - not losing in 30 games
20:00 Thursday 1st July 2021 - 3 minute read
Most pundits think Belgium and Italy will play out and a tight, close encounter and Neil Monnery isn't ready to go against the crowd on this one...
Location: Munich. Germany
Date: Friday, July 2
Kick Off Time: 3PM ET
The second of the Quarter-Finals at Euro 2020 is clearly the most appetizing on paper. Italy looked incredible as they won three group games on the spin. A trip to England however saw everything change as they squeaked by Austria in a game they could easily have lost. A very tight offside saw an Austrian goal chalked off before the Italians scored twice in Extra Time to set them on their way.
Every team faces adversity at least once in a tournament and boy Roberto Mancini’s men had it staring them in the face on Saturday under the Wembley arch.
As for Belgium, they continue to look like a classy outfit. They had a tough match-up in the Round of 16 against defending champions Portugal and got over the line scoring with their only shot on target. That goal was an absolute screamer from Thorgan Hazard but when you look at the other statistics from that game - it indicates that Portugal were at least the equal of Belgium and possibly even better but in the end - it was the Belgians who went through.
They do however have big injury problems coming into this game. Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne are both unlikely to feature in what is a huge blow for Roberto Martinez’s men. Yannick Carrasco and Dries Mertens are both good players but a step down from the quality of the men they are expected to replace.
For me this means an awful lot falls on to the rather broad shoulders of Romelu Lukaku. The 28 year-old Inter Milan striker has become a much more complete player since swapping the EPL for Serie A a couple of years ago. He’ll need to be the focal point and link up play well if Belgium are going to find their way past the Italians who are boosted by the expected return of captain and star defender Giorgio Chiellini. The return of the veteran Juventus player cannot be overestimated.
Going into Euro 2020 I had Belgium as my favorites to win it all but the loss of De Bruyne is a huge blow. It might be why they are considered the outsiders in this game by the Sportsbooks which without the injury issues would have blown my mind.
The tie at +210 is my Moneyline play as I think this’ll be a low scoring tight affair. The Sportsbooks clearly agree on the goals front as over 2.5 is available at a rather nice +150. At that price (with William Hill in NJ) it is worth a dabble but it would purely be a speculative value punt.
Giorgio Chiellini’s return from injury offers up an intriguing +350 price for him to receive a card. His vision and anticipation is second to none but any defender coming off an injury and going up against Romelu Lukaku can mistime a challenge or make a cynical short pull. Bet365, Unibet and SugarHouse are all offering that price.
Picks: The tie at +210 and Chiellini to be booked at +350 are my only two plays here. It wouldn’t shock me if this is 0-0 through 90 minutes but +650 isn’t long enough for me to play it.