The big – and, for Belgium, very important – news is that Kevin De Bruyne has been passed fit. Eden Hazard doesn’t make it, though, and his place is taken by Jeremy Doku. That’s the only change made by Roberto Martinez from the XI sent out against Portugal.
Italy make two changes to the XI selected against Austria. Federico Chiesa is rewarded for his superb extra-time goal with a start this time, while captain Giorgio Chiellini returns from injury. Domenico Berardi and Francesco Acerbi drop to the bench.
It’s fair to say both of these sides are bang in form. Belgium’s record in this tournament, qualifiers included, is perfect: their deposing of Portugal was their 14th win out of 14, a run that’s seen Roberto Martinez’s side score 48 goals while conceding just four. Italy’s Euro 2020 record is almost exactly the same – 14 matches, 14 wins, 46 goals for, five against – though Roberto Mancini’s men can also boast a 31-game unbeaten sequence in all internationals, a record-breaking tear-up stretching back to September 2018.
Whoever wins this Munich quarter final will, by extending their winning sequence to 15, break an all-time record currently shared with Germany. History suggests Italy are the favourites – they’ve won 14 of the 22 matches previously played between the two countries, losing only four – but Belgium have form for annoying the Italians in the Euros, having ended their reign as champions in 1972, and reached the final at their expense at Euro 80. Oh, and they’re currently ranked number one in the world. Good luck calling this one.
This promises to be one heck of a showdown, then, and not just because Euro 2020 hasn’t let us down yet. The winners will face Spain or Switzerland at Wembley next Tuesday. Good luck, everyone, may the best team maintain their aura of invincibility. Kick off at the Fussball Arena München is at 8pm BST, 9pm local. It’s on!
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