For what counts third place in the Nations League, Italy took it, beating Belgium first in the Fifa rankings. Probably a draw (and the solution to penalties) would have represented a more equitable outcome (the Belgians hit two cross bars and a post), but it would not have changed the good performance of the alternative national team of Roberto Mancini. We already knew this, but once more we understood that you can count on Acerbi and Bastoni, Locatelli and Pellegrini, Berardi and Raspadori, even if the latter did not properly shine.
Two Church conclusions – one from the left and one from the right – opened a spectacular confrontation and illuminated by an inviting sun. A little later it was Batshuayi who shot high from the edge of the area. Italy – lined up with the usual 4-3-3: Donnarumma, Di Lorenzo, Acerbi, Bastoni, Emerson; Barella, Locatelli, Pellegrini; Berardi, Raspadori, Church – made the match putting pressure on the trocar and trying the shot again first with Berardi (17 ‘Courtois rejects) and then with Raspadori (20’, Courtois deflects).
The blues do not dominate, but leave little to the opponent who shows up towards the middle of the first half with a header from Carrasco from the corner (Donnarumma parade) and then with a big chance: Batshuayi works the ball on the edge of the area, then gives in to Saelemaekers hitting the crossbar on the fly.
It is an episode, which could have become decisive, but equalized at the end of time (45 ‘) by a fantastic launch by Berardi for church. The outside of Juve ranks towards Courtois who, on the diagonal, miraculously manages to put the tip of the plan into it.
More Italy, therefore, than Belgium up to the intervalor. Also because, by choice (like Italy) or by necessity, too Martinez operates a large turnover. The game system is 3-4-3 with Alderweireld, Denayer and Vertonghen ahead of Courtois; Chestnuts, Tielemans, Witsel and Saelemaekers in midfield; Vanaken, Batshuayi and Carrasco in front.
The second half does not deny the beauty of the match. First, because Italy, on 46 ‘, takes the lead with Barella (Berardi’s corner kick, removed from Tielemans, right from the edge of the Inter and ball in the bag). Second, because just before the hour of play, the coach of Belgium, Martinez, brings in De Bruyne and Ketelaere. In the same minute (59 ‘) i Belgians hit another crossbar, this time with Batshuayi.
Our opponents push, Italy acts as a throw-in and, perhaps not quite deservedly, he goes to earn a penalty kick with Chiesa. The Juventus striker Castagne, he would not be able to jump because the ball stretches, but the former Atalantino touches him and the referee concedes the shot from eleven meters. Berardi, who takes care of the shooting, is lucky because Courtois senses, touches the ball, and yet fails to stop it.
Green light to foreign exchange also for Italy. Inside Kean and outside Raspadori with the intention of keeping the ball and picking up a team that in the second half of the second half, despite the double advantage, gets too crushed by Belgium.
Donnarumma is also in the news, incited, applauded and invoked by the fans of the Stadium. First he loses a ball in high exit (68 ‘) on which Bastoni remedies, then twice he opposes Alderweilder with skill.
Meanwhile, Mancini alternates two midfielders (Barella and Pellegrini) with Jorginho and Cristante. The game is under control, but Belgium (81 ‘) does not give up and, on a cue from De Bruyne, Carrasco hits the post, third wood in a very unfortunate game.
It all seems decided when Italy goes to take a corner kick (badly with Chiesa) and Courtois starts his offspring. The two blue central players are out of position, the defense is bad, De Bruyne turns on the lamp that illuminates the way to Ketelaere, alone in front of Donnarumma. The playmaker makes fun of our goalkeeper by letting him pass the ball under his legs (86’).
Belgium believes in a draw (in Trossard for Carrasco), Mancini wants to freeze the ball (ahead with Insigne in place of Berardi and Bernardeschi in place of Chiesa).
Italy succeeds, the Belgians pass the half field once. As in the European Championship, we still win, even if this time it is worth less.
Scorers: st 2 ‘Barella (I), 20’ Berardi rig. (I), 42 ‘De Katelaere (B).
Italy (4-3-3): Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Acerbi, Bastoni, Emerson Palmieri; Barella (25 ‘st Jorginho), Locatelli, Pellegrini (25’ st Cristante); Berardi (46 ‘st Insigne), Raspadori (21’ st Kean), Chiesa (46 ‘st Bernardeschi). A disp. Sirigu, Meret, Chiellini, Verratti, Dimarco. Ct: Mancini.
Belgium (3-4-3): Courtois; Alderweireld, Denayer, Vertonghen; Castagne, Tielemans (!4′ st De Bruyne), Witsel, Carrasco; Batshuayi, Vanaken, Saelamaekers (14′ st De Ketelaere). A disp. Mignolet, Casteels, Boyata, Lukebakio, Theate, Dendoncker. Ct: Martinez.
Referee: Jovanovic (Serbia).
Where: Fritz (Germania).
Booked: pt 14 ‘Vertonghen (B), 30’ Di Lorenzo (I); st 11 ‘Witsel (B), 18’ Alderweireld (B), 37 ‘Emerson Palmieri (I).