Italy and Belgium meet in the second UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final chasing a place in EURO history. With both teams having won their last 14 UEFA European Championship matches, the victors at the Football Arena Munich will set a new competition record, a mark they both currently share with Germany.
• While Italy have won 14 of the sides’ 22 contests, including group games at UEFA EURO 2000 and 2016, Belgium prevailed in the teams’ only previous EURO quarter-final, in 1972 when they ultimately finished third.
• Both sides won their section with maximum points at UEFA EURO 2020, Italy finishing first in Group A and Belgium coming top of Group B, before hard-fought wins in the round of 16. Italy needed extra time to see off Austria 2-1 at Wembley on 26 June; Belgium edged past holders Portugal 1-0 in Seville the following day.
• Both teams were knocked out in the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2016.
• The winners of this tie will play Switzerland or Spain in the semi-finals at Wembley on 6 July.
• Belgium’s record in 22 meetings with Italy is W4 D4 L14; W1 D2 L3 in competitive games.
• The sides’ most recent meeting came in the UEFA EURO 2016 group stage, goals from Emanuele Giaccherini (32) and Graziano Pellè (90+3) giving Antonio Conte’s Italy a 2-0 Matchday 1 win in Lyon against a Belgium side coached by Marc Wilmots. That helped the Azzurri finish top of Group E, level on six points with runners-up Belgium, who also progressed. Ten members of Belgium’s UEFA EURO 2020 squad played in that encounter as opposed to just three from Italy’s.
• That was the nations’ third meeting 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.
• The nations’ last friendly – and first since May 2008 – took place in November 2015, Belgium coming from behind to defeat Italy 3-1 in Brussels. 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.
EURO facts: Belgium
• This is Belgium’s second successive UEFA European Championship final tournament and their sixth EURO in total.
• The Red Devils’ biggest achievement to date was reaching the final of this tournament in 1980, when they lost 2-1 to West Germany in Rome.
• In 2016, Belgium’s first EURO finals since they co-hosted UEFA EURO 2000 with the Netherlands, a team coached by Wilmots finished second in Group E and beat Hungary 4-0 in the round of 16 – their biggest EURO finals victory – only to suffer a 3-1 quarter-final defeat by Wales.
• This time round, Roberto Martínez’s side won all ten of their qualifiers to finish first in Group I, increasing the number of countries to have reached the finals with a perfect record to eight, Italy also having achieved the feat in the UEFA EURO 2020 preliminaries. Of the previous six to have won every qualifier, however, only Spain (2012) went on to win the tournament itself.
• The 9-0 win against San Marino on 10 October 2019 is Belgium’s biggest UEFA European Championship victory.
• Belgium were the top scorers in qualifying overall with 40 goals in their ten matches. Fifteen different Belgium players found the net in qualifying.
• The Red Devils conceded only three goals, the joint best record along with Turkey.
• Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne both provided seven assists in qualifying, fewer only than the Netherlands’ Memphis Depay (eight). Hazard scored five goals to De Bruyne’s four; Romelu Lukaku managed seven goals and four assists.
• Belgium have extended their winning run in the competition to 14 at the final tournament. They beat Russia (3-0) and Finland (2-0) in Saint Petersburg either side of a 2-1 comeback victory against Denmark in Copenhagen to finish six points clear at the top of Group B, before Thorgan Hazard’s 42nd-minute goal at the Stadium La Cartuja Sevilla proved enough for them to see off Portugal in the round of 16.
• That 1972 success against Italy is Belgium’s only win in a EURO quarter-final; they lost to the Netherlands in 1976 (0-5 a, 1-2 h) and Wales in 2016 (1-3).
• This is Belgium’s first game at the Football Arena Munich and only their second in the city, following a 0-0 friendly draw against West Germany in September 1982.
• Belgium’s record in Germany is W2 D3 L9, their last visit a 3-1 UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying defeat in Düsseldorf in October 2011. Their last victory in the country was a 2-1 UEFA European Championship qualifying success against East Germany in Leipzig in March 1983.
EURO facts: Italy
• This is Italy’s tenth EURO final tournament and their seventh in a row since sitting out the 1992 edition in Sweden. Only twice have they failed to advance through the group stage, in 1996 and 2004; they were quarter-finalists at UEFA EURO 2016.
• Italy triumphed on home soil at the 1968 UEFA European Championship and have been runners-up twice since – in 2000 and 2012.
• This time round, Roberto Mancini’s side won all ten of their qualifiers to finish first in Group J, swelling the number of countries to have reached the finals with a perfect record to eight.
• A 3-0 win away to Bosnia and Herzegovina in their penultimate qualifier was Italy’s tenth successive win in all internationals, the first time in their history they had achieved that feat.
• The Azzurri made it 11 straight victories with a 9-1 home win against Armenia in their final qualifying game, the first time they had scored nine goals in a game since August 1948. Seven different players were on the scoresheet, a new national record.
• Having never scored three goals in a EURO finals game before this tournament, Italy managed it in both their first two matches, beating Switzerland and Turkey 3-0 at the Olimpico in Rome, where they secured first place in Group A with a 1-0 defeat of Wales on Matchday 3.
• Italy squeezed past Austria in the last 16 in London, extra-time goals from subsitutes Federico Chiesa (95) and Matteo Pessina (105) taking them into a fourth successive EURO quarter-final.
• That made Italy’s record in knockout ties at the EURO final tournament W8 L6.
• That 1972 defeat by Belgium is one of three EURO quarter-final ties Italy have lost, the others both on penalties, against Spain in 2008 and Germany in 2016. They beat Bulgaria in 1968 (2-3 a, 2-0 h), Romania in 2000 (2-0) and England in 2012 (0-0, 4-2 pens), going on to reach the final in all three tournaments.
• This is Italy’s second game at the Football Arena Munich, after their 4-1 friendly loss against Germany in March 2016. That was their second match in the city, where they beat Haiti 3-1 at the Olympiastadion in the 1974 FIFA World Cup group stage.
• Italy’s overall record in Germany is W16 D9 L7, their last visit that 2016 loss in Munich. They won the 2006 World Cup in Germany, playing two of their games in Hamburg, one in Hannover and two in Kaiserslautern before beating the hosts 2-0 after extra time in the semi-final in Dortmund and then defeating France on penalties at Berlin’s Olympiastadion.
• The Azzurri’s record at the 2006 World Cup was W5 D2; at the 1974 tournament in West Germany it was W1 D1 L1, Italy opening with that victory against Haiti in Munich before playing their next two games in Stuttgart. That was also where their 1988 UEFA European Championship campaign ended with a 2-0 semi-final defeat by the Soviet Union; their record at that tournament in West Germany was W2 D1 L1.
Links and trivia
• Opposing managers Martínez and Mancini were in charge of Wigan Athletic and Manchester City respectively in the 2013 FA Cup final, Wigan winning 1-0 to claim their only major trophy; Mancini left City two days later.
• Lukaku was an Italian title winner with Internazionale in 2020/21, scoring 24 league goals.
• Lukaku signed for the Milan club in 2019, with Nicolò Barella and Alessandro Bastoni among his team-mates.
• Lukaku has faced Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma in four Milan derbies as an Inter player, scoring in each one.
• Dries Mertens joined Napoli in 2013 and is now the club’s all-time record scorer with 135 goals. His current team-mates in Naples include Lorenzo Insigne (2013–), Giovanni Di Lorenzo (2019–) and Alex Meret (2018–).
• Mertens has scored three Serie A goals past AC Milan’s Donnarumma.
• Have also played in Italy:
Thomas Vermaelen (Roma 2016/17).
Dennis Praet (Sampdoria 2016–19)
Timothy Castagne (Atalanta 2017–20)
• A Ciro Immobile goal helped Lazio to a 3-1 home win against a Borussia Dortmund side including Thomas Meunier and Axel Witsel in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 20 October 2021. The Italy striker also scored a penalty in the 1-1 draw in Dortmund with Thorgan Hazard starting for the German side and Witsel coming on as a substitute.
• Have played together:
Thomas Meunier & Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain 2016–20)
Thomas Vermaelen & Emerson (Roma 2016/17)
Timothy Castagne & Leonardo Spinazzola, Bryan Cristante (Atalanta 2017/18)
Timothy Castagne & Rafael Tolói (Atalanta 2017–20)
Eden Hazard & Emerson (Chelsea 2018–19)
Eden Hazard & Jorginho (Chelsea 2018/19)
Dries Mertens & Jorginho (Napoli 2014–18)
• Jorginho’s Chelsea defeated Kevin De Bruyne’s Manchester City 1-0 in the 2021 UEFA Champions League final in Porto.
• De Bruyne had scored the first of City’s four goals in the semi-final against a Paris Saint-Germain side featuring Marco Verratti and Alessandro Florenzi.
• Youri Tielemans scored the winning goal for Leicester City in the 2021 FA Cup final against Jorginho’s Chelsea (1-0). Castagne also played for Leicester, with Praet an unused substitute – as was Emerson for Chelsea.
• Belgium’s record in competitive penalty shoot-outs is W1 L0:
5-4 v Spain, 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
• Italy’s shoot-out record is W4 L7:
8-9 v Czechoslovakia, 1980 UEFA European Championship third-place play-off
3-4 v Argentina, 1990 FIFA World Cup semi-final
2-3 v Brazil, 1994 FIFA World Cup final
3-4 v France, 1998 FIFA World Cup quarter-final
3-1 v Netherlands, UEFA EURO 2000 semi-final
5-3 v France, 2006 FIFA World Cup final
2-4 v Spain, UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final
4-2 v England, UEFA EURO 2012 quarter-final6-7 v Spain, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final
3-2 v Uruguay, 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup third-place play-off
5-6 v Germany, UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-final
• Italy have been involved in shoot-outs at each of the last three EURO final tournaments.
• Belgium’s round of 16 win against Portugal put them into their fourth successive major tournament quarter-final. They were defeated at this stage in the 2014 FIFA World Cup (1-0 by Argentina) and UEFA EURO 2016 (3-1 by Wales) but won their most recent last-eight encounter, 2-1 against Brazil at the 2018 World Cup.
• This is the first time that Belgium have ever won four successive matches at a EURO final tournament.
• In beating Denmark 2-1 in Copenhagen on Matchday 2, Belgium became the first team to come from behind and win at UEFA EURO 2020. The subsequent wins against Finland in Saint Petersburg and Portugal in Seville have stretched their perfect record in this competition, qualifiers included, to 14 wins out of 14, with 48 goals scored and just four conceded.
• Thorgan Hazard’s winning strike against Portugal was his second goal in successive UEFA EURO 2020 encounters, the Borussia Dortmund player having also scored the equaliser against Denmark – his first at a tournament. He missed the final group game against Finland.
• Belgium’s opening 3-0 win against Russia was their joint biggest victory in a EURO finals group game, matching the one by the same scoreline against the Republic of Ireland on Matchday 2 of UEFA EURO 2016. Their biggest win was 4-0 against Hungary in the round of 16 five years ago.
• Belgium have the most experienced squad at UEFA EURO 2020, which now contains five players with 100 or more caps, Dries Mertens having joined Jan Vertonghen, Axel Witsel, Toby Alderweireld and Eden Hazard by reaching his century against Denmark.
• Roberto Martínez’s side were held to a 1-1 draw by Greece in the first of their two pre-UEFA EURO 2020 Brussels friendlies on 3 June, Thorgan Hazard’s first-half strike proving insufficient for victory, but they returned to winning ways three days later by defeating Croatia 1-0 thanks to Romelu Lukaku’s 60th international goal.
• Lukaku’s double against Russia was his 17th for Belgium; he has scored two hat-tricks. The goal against Finland was his record-extending 63rd for his country.
• Thomas Meunier’s goal against Russia was his second in successive final tournament appearances, the wing-back having found the net for Belgium against England in the third place play-off of the 2018 FIFA World Cup (2-0) – a game also staged at the Saint Petersburg Stadium.
• Kevin De Bruyne’s winner against Denmark was his first goal at the EURO finals, on his sixth appearance, and third in tournament football, the Manchester City midfielder having also scored at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.
• The Red Devils have now won 23 of their last 27 matches, the only defeat in that sequence coming against England at Wembley in the UEFA Nations League on 11 October 2020 (1-2), which makes them unbeaten in their last 13 (W11 D2). Despite that setback Belgium qualified for the UEFA Nations League finals in Italy later this year and will meet world champions France in the second semi-final in Turin on 7 October.
• Belgium’s squad contains newly-crowned league title winners from England (De Bruyne, Manchester City), Italy (Lukaku, Internazionale) and Spain (Yannick Carrasco, Atlético de Madrid) as well as a Belgian champion in Club Brugge’s Hans Vanaken. They also boast three 2020/21 domestic cup winners apiece from Dortmund (Thorgan Hazard, Meunier and Witsel) and Leicester City (Timothy Castagne, Dennis Praet and final match-winner Youri Tielemans).
• No fewer than 15 of Belgium’s 23-man squad from UEFA EURO 2016 and 18 of their 2018 FIFA World Cup squad have returned to participate in this event. The only major tournament freshmen for UEFA EURO 2020 are Vanaken, Castagne, Praet, Matz Sels, Leandro Trossard, Jérémy Doku and goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski, who on 29 June was added to the squad to replace the injured Simon Mignolet.
• Castagne was ruled out of the tournament after sustaining facial fractures in Belgium’s opening match against Russia. De Bruyne and Eden Hazard were both forced to leave the field with injuries against Portugal.
• Every one of Belgium’s 24 outfield players has seen action in the team’s first four UEFA EURO 2020 matches, with just back-up goalkeepers Sels, Mignolet and Kaminski yet to make an appearance.
• Italy’s round of 16 win against Austria was their 12th in succession, though Austria’s late consolation at Wembley was the first conceded by Roberto Mancini’s side during that run.
• The Azzurri are now unbeaten in 31 internationals (W26 D5), breaking a national record that had lasted since the 1930s. Their last defeat was 1-0 against Portugal in Lisbon in the UEFA Nations League on 10 September 2018.
• Italy had never scored more than two goals in a EURO finals match before this tournament, but they managed three in both of their opening two games. The only other EURO in which they won all three group encounters was in 2000, when they also kicked off with a win against Turkey (2-1) before beating Belgium (2-0) and Sweden (2-1) and going on to finish as runners-up to France.
• Ciro Immobile is one cap short of 50 for Italy and set to become only the third member of Mancini’s squad to reach the half-century. The Lazio striker is also the top scorer in Italy’s party, having found the net on five of his last six starts for the Azzurri to take his all-time international goal tally to 15.
• Manuel Locatelli’s double against Switzerland on Matchday 2 was the first of his professional career. He had only scored once previously for Italy, in a FIFA World Cup qualifier away to Bulgaria in March this year (2-0).
• Federico Chiesa’s goal against Austria was just his second for Italy on his 29th appearance, the only previous one having completed the scoring in the Azzurri’s closing 9-1 UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying win against Armenia.
• Matteo Pessina, a late addition to Italy’s squad following the withdrawal of injured Stefano Sensi, scored the winning goals against both Wales and Austria, having notched his first two at international level in a pre-tournament 7-0 friendly win against San Marino.
• Gaetano Castrovilli, who won the second of his three caps against San Marino, 18 months after his debut, replaced the injured Lorenzo Pellegrini in the squad on the eve of the tournament.
• All but one of the 26 players in Mancini’s squad has made it on to the field of play so far at UEFA EURO 2020, goalkeeper Alex Meret the exception.
• Among the seven Italy players selected for both UEFA EURO 2016 and this tournament are skipper Giorgio Chiellini, who is appearing in his fourth successive EURO finals, and Leonardo Bonucci and Salvatore Sirigu, who are both involved in their third. The other survivors from five years ago are Federico Bernardeschi, Alessandro Florenzi, Immobile and Matchday 1 goalscorer Lorenzo Insigne.
• Bonucci made his 15th EURO finals appearance against Austria, one more than injured team-mate Chiellini, the man he has replaced as captain. Only Gianluigi Buffon (17) has made more in the tournament for Italy.
• Chiellini and Bonucci are the only members of the Italy squad to have scored at any previous major tournament, the former having found the net against both Brazil at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup and Spain at UEFA EURO 2016, while the latter was the Azzurri’s scorer from the penalty spot in the 2016 quarter-final against Germany.
• Italy will host the final stages of the UEFA Nations League in the autumn. They take on Spain in the first of the semi-finals in Milan on 6 October.