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Group E starts with a bang for Belgium and Italy

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots and Italy counterpart Antonio Conte met on the pitch at UEFA EURO 2000, and much rests on their first UEFA EURO 2016 Group E match.

Background: Belgium v Italy ©Bongarts

Belgium are seeking their first competitive win against Italy since May 1972 as the sides get their UEFA EURO 2016 Group E campaigns under way.

Previous meetings
• Belgium's record in 21 meetings with Italy is W4 D4 L13 (W1 D2 L2 in competitive games).

• The nations met for the first time since May 2008 in November 2015, Belgium coming from behind to defeat Italy 3-1 in a Brussels friendly. Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and Michy Batshuayi scored for the hosts in reply to Antonio Candreva's early strike.

• Belgium's sole competitive triumph against Italy came in the quarter-finals of the 1972 UEFA European Championship. They prevailed 2-1 in Brussels after a goalless draw in Milan to eliminate the holders.

• The nations have met twice at the EURO final tournament, a goalless draw in Turin in 1980 enabling Belgium to reach the final at the hosts' expense. Twenty years later Italy helped to eliminate the UEFA EURO 2000 co-hosts in the group stage with a 2-0 victory in Brussels, Francesco Totti and Stefano Fiore scoring.

• Current Belgium coach Marc Wilmots and Italy counterpart Antonio Conte were on opposite sides in that 2000 game.

• Wilmots scored past Gianluigi Buffon in Belgium's 3-1 friendly win against Italy in Lecce in November 1999.

Belgium's top five qualifying goals

EURO facts – Belgium
• This is Belgium's first UEFA European Championship final tournament since they co-hosted UEFA EURO 2000 with the Netherlands, and their fifth in total.

• The Red Devils' biggest achievement to date is reaching the final of the 1980 EURO, where they lost 2-1 to West Germany in Rome.

• Belgium made it through qualifying with the record W7 D2 L1. They come to the finals on a four-game competitive winning streak.

• Gent ended a five-match losing streak for Belgian clubs at the Stade de Gerland in this season's UEFA Champions League group stage, winning 2-1.

Italy's best qualifying goals

EURO facts – Italy
• This is Italy's ninth EURO final tournament and their sixth in a row since missing out on the 1992 edition in Sweden. Only twice have they failed to advance through the group stage – in 1996 and 2004.

• Italy won the 1968 EURO and have been losing finalists twice since – in 2000 and 2012.

• Italy (W7 D3) were among four teams undefeated in qualifying alongside England, Austria and Romania. Italy have the longest ongoing unbeaten UEFA European Championship qualifying run, having avoided defeat in each of their last 30 qualifying matches.

• Italy have not won their opening game in three EUROs (D2 L1) since beating Turkey 2-1 in their first UEFA EURO 2000 match.

• Italy's only previous game in Lyon ended in a 3-3 friendly draw against Brazil in June 1997.

• Italian clubs' record in 10 UEFA games in Lyon is W3 D4 L3; most recently, Juventus won 1-0 at Olympique Lyonnais in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage.

Coach and player links
• Play together:
Dries Mertens (Belgium) & Lorenzo Insigne (Italy) – Napoli

Radja Nainggolan (Belgium) & Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi (Italy) – Roma

• Belgium's Jean-François Gillet (Monza, Bari, Treviso, Bologna, Torino and Catania) has extensive Italian experience.

• Wilmots enjoyed one of his biggest successes against Italian opponents. He registered in the first leg of Schalke's 1997 UEFA Cup final versus Internazionale Milano and then scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out after a 1-0 second-leg loss.