Veteran Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini claims to have great respect for Belgium’s prolific goalscorer Romelu Lukaku.
The Azzurri are going up against Belgium in the quarterfinals of the European Champions and Roberto Mancini’s men are wary of the danger that the Red Devils possess in attack.
The high voltage match will see two of the top-performing teams in this Euros take on against each other at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Both the teams have played some exceptional football to reach the last eight in such an exciting event. While Lukaku has been influential in Belgium run to the quarterfinals, similarly despite his injury Chiellini has also great commitment and determination in the first few games.
The Juventus centre back admitted that the Italians are wary of Lukaku’s capabilities but they feel he is not the only attacking threat in their team. He feels that the Italian defence needs to be in absolute sync unlike it was against Austria to power the Azzurri to the semifinals.
“From all of us there is great respect for Lukaku, for his extraordinary season at Inter,” the 36-year-old told a pre-match press conference. “To limit Belgium to Lukaku is offensive to his teammates, they are all really great players. We will prepare it as we always have. We’ll both sleep well tonight, me and Romelu.”
Italy were clubbed with Turkey, Switzerland and Wales in Group A. They started the tournament with a 3-0 scoreline against the Turks and followed it by another 3-0 against the Swiss. Mancini’s men were the first team to qualify for the knockouts and hence he rested a lot of players but still they finished the group games with a 1-0 win over Wales.
However, their tough test started from the knockouts as they faced a gritty Austrian side. Austria held the Italian for most parts of the game and with some luck, they would have even knocked the Azzurri out of the tournament.
However, Mancini’s introduction of Federico Chiesa changed the game as he scored in extra time taking the lead. Then a goal from Matteo Pessina followed but the Austrians pulled one back in the form of Sasa Kalajdzic. It was a tough contest for the Italians or maybe a probable wake-up call.
Belgium also won all their group stage games and finished at the top of Group B. They started with a 3-0 win over Russia then a 2-1 win over Denmark and finally a 2-0 win over Finland to finish the group fixtures. The Red Devils knocked out reigning champions Portugal in the Round of 16 with a scrappy 1-0 win courtesy of a Thorgan Hazard stunner.
Hence this is going to be one of the most crucial matches of this Euros as the winner will face either Spain or Switzerland in the semifinals.