Gianluca Zambrotta: Italy have shown they know how to suffer together
Friday, July 2, 2021
EURO2020.com columnist Gianluca Zambrotta says Italy can draw strength from the manner of their win against Austria.
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Italy had to work hard for their win against Austria. I think it's useful that this came at this moment in the tournament and not against a more technically gifted team. The Azzurri, however, showed that they know how to suffer together and how to sacrifice.
They didn't play as well as in earlier games but the group showed how united and strong it is. Right now the most important thing is to be solid, win games and keep progressing.
Italy come into the game against Belgium after some spectacular performances in the group stage. They broke several records, including a new 31-game unbeaten run, but now they face the world's No1-ranked side. Belgium are a team with excellent players, but Italy can certainly compete. The semi-finals is within their reach.
Federico Chiesa, who did very well with Juventus last season, not only scored but also brought dynamism and movement to the game when he came on against Austria. I think he's a player who can make the difference in games when he comes on. But he can also have an impact from the start if preferred to Domenico Berardi, who has had a fine tournament so far. Chiesa can be decisive.
Romelo Lukaku is one of the leaders of this Belgium side, he is vying to be among the top scorers at the tournament. He is two goals behind Cristiano Ronaldo, who has now been eliminated.
The experience of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini (I am hopeful he will be available) would be useful to stop him. Lukaku is very strong; he protects the ball better than anybody else; he helps the team to push up; he draws in defenders.
Chiellini's fitness could be pivotal, although Francesco Acerbi has performed admirably when called up in his place.
Italy will have to play with their usual style; the Azzurri must be focused and determined from the first minute. They must give everything they have. They will have to play as a team as they did in the group stage, but also against Austria, when they risked and sacrificed a little more. Italy can march on by using the strength of their entire group.