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How Italy could line up against Belgium

How Italy could line up against Belgium
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Sports Mole takes an in-depth look at how Italy could line up for Friday's Euro 2020 quarter-final clash with Belgium.

Italy come into their Euro 2020 quarter-final encounter with Belgium celebrating a new national record of 31 games unbeaten, and can count upon the return of a national legend to bolster their ranks.

Veteran captain Giorgio Chiellini has been absent since the group stage win over Switzerland and could only train separately from the rest of the squad last week as he recovered from a thigh injury.

The 36-year-old Juventus defender has since returned to full training at the Azzurri's Coverciano headquarters, though, so is now expected to reform his long-established partnership with club colleague Leonardo Bonucci at the heart of the defence. Lazio's Francesco Acerbi would drop out should Chiellini be deemed fit to start.

Manager Roberto Mancini has been further boosted by full-back Alessandro Florenzi stepping up his comeback from injury and the PSG man could even compete with Giovanni Di Lorenzo for a place on the right side of the Italian back four, as part of their now-customary 4-3-3.

After the intervention of substitutes Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina was required to send Italy into the last eight during a narrow extra-time victory over Austria, there has been clamour for the young duo to start.

At Wembley, Juventus winger Chiesa joined his father Enrico in having scored for the Azzurri at a European finals, while Pessina - a late replacement in the squad for Inter's Stefano Sensi - pounced to net his fourth goal in his last four appearances for La Nazionale.

Though PSG midfielder Marco Verratti has confirmed his recovery from an ongoing knee problem and is a certain starter alongside the metronomic Jorginho, it is possible that Nicolo Barella's spot in the engine room could be in jeopardy - particularly with the much-admired Manuel Locatelli also pressing for a place.

Chiesa, meanwhile, is expected to form a major part of the plan to capitalise on Belgium's lack of defensive pace, coming in for Domenico Berardi on the right of central striker Ciro Immobile - Italy's top active scorer, with 15 international goals.

Italy possible starting lineup: Donnarumma; Di Lorenzo, Bonucci, Chiellini, Spinazzola; Barella, Jorginho, Verratti; Chiesa, Immobile, Insigne

> Click here to see how Belgium could line up for Friday's Euro 2020 quarter-final

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Italy
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Italy's Domenico Berardi celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 25, 2021
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