ROBERTO MARTINEZ hopes to steer Belgium to their first win against Italy in a top football tournament in 49 years.
And tonight’s quarter-final duel will see Romelu Lukaku bid to replicate the lethal form that saw him become Serie A’s second highest scorer last term.
Both sides will enter this match off the back of hardfought wins with Martinez’s aces dispatching Portugal and Roberto Mancini’s side beating Austria in extra time.
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And Belgium will be looking to reach the Euros semi-finals for the first time since 1972 with the possibility of duel with giant killers Switzerland or three-time contest winners Spain.
The highly-anticipated clash between the two European Championship favourites will kick-off at 8pm in Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena in Germany.
And the game can be watched live on BBC1 with a preview airing at 7:30pm.
What’s the form?
Italy and Belgium have played each other 23 times on the international stage.
And their most recent fixture was a Euros group game encounter in June 2016 under former national team gaffers Marc Wilmots and Antonio Conte.
That clash in France, overseen by former Prem ref Mark Clattenburg, resulted in a 2-1 win for the Azzurri.
But both sides failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals that year with Belgium losing to Wales and Germany dispatching Italy.
However Mancini’s side and their opponents have been in fine form so far in this year’s Euros, winning all four of the matches they have played so far.
And Martinez’s side have conceded just ONCE in the competition with the team registering an impressive 1-0 last 16 win against Portugal courtesy of a swerved Thorgan Hazard rocket shot.
Who’s in and who’s out
Kevin DeBruyne, 30, and skipper Eden Hazard, 30, are expected to remain with their team-mates despite sustaining injuries during Belgium’s defeat of Portugal.
However Martinez reckons neither players are likely to be “100 per cent” fit.”
DeBruyne suffered an ankle injury last time out following Portugal’s Joao Palhinha tackling the Man City star from behind.
And Hazard was forced to withdraw from the clash with the A Selecao after straining a leg muscle.
The duo are expected to have scans ahead of the Italy game and it is thought they could play a part in the clash.
However team-mate Simon Mignolet has been forced to withdraw from the tournament with a knee injury.
The Brugge stopper, 33, is expected to be replaced by uncapped Belgium keeper Thomas Kaminsk, 28, who plays for Championship side Blackburn Rovers.
Meanwhile Nicolo Barella, 24, could be dropped to the bench for Italy after he received a yellow card for dissent against Austria.
The Inter Milan midfielder may be at risk of missing a potential semi-final if he were to receive another caution.
And Sky Sports Italia claim Domenico Berardi, 26, could make for Federico Chiesa, 23, with the Juventus winger netting one of his side’s two winning goals against Austria.
Francesco Acerbi and Giovanni Di Lorenzo could be set to retain their places in Mancini’s back four if Giorgio Chiellini, 36, and Alessandro Florenzi, 30, are unable to recover from muscle injuries.
A calf-muscle injury forced Florenzi to withdraw from Italy’s group stage clash with Turkey.
However the Azzurri are optimistic about Chiellini’s chances of being fit for tonight’s game after he missed Italy’s 2-1 win against Austria.
Watch out for…
Romelu Lukaku. The Inter Milan frontman took Serie A by storm last term.
The Belgium striker netted an impressive 24 goals in 36 league games finishing as the division’s second highest scorer.
And the former Chelsea and Man United forward has evolved into one of the world’s best strikers netting three goals in four games so far at the Euros.
Lukaku has reportedly emerged as a top transfer target for the Blues, however the player affirmed his wish to remain with Inter.
And the Inter ace will no doubt be keen to impress when he goes up against several Serie A rivals including Juventus defensive rock Chiellini.
If the game’s rubbish
Jessica Melena, 30, will among the supporters cheering on a Italy team which includes her husband Ciro Immobile
The Lazio striker, 31, and his wife, who have three children, started dating in 2012
And Melena, who studied criminology and forensics, once harboured ambitions to become a crime scene investigator.
Fancy a punt?
Get all your Euro 2020 ante-post tips with our tournament betting guide HERE.
- Romelu Lukaku to be first goalscorer 9/2 @ Betfair
- Belgium 12/5 to win @ Betfair
- Italy 7/10 to win @Betfair