European Championship Finals in Holland and Belgium -- First round fixtures.

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European Leagues: European Cups: Euro 2000 -- Match 09


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First Round

  • Wed. 14th June: (Group B)
    Game 09 Italy - Belgium
    King Baudouin stadium, Brussels (20:45)

italy.gif (1092 bytes)
Italy

Previous Games:
Tur - Ita (1-2)

Game 09

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Belgium

Previous Games:
Bel - Swe (2-1)

Italy and Belgium both won their opening game and if one of them win this, they should have a place in the quarter-finals.

To counteract the home advantage that Belgium will have in Brussels, Italy are making a big deal about having a minute's silence in the King Baudouin stadium (formerly Heysel). UEFA seem to have turned this request down, and now the Italian Football Federation want the referee to delay the start so that Italian captain Paolo Maldini can pay tribute to the Juventus fans who were crushed to death when a wall collapsed, before the European Cup Final against Liverpool, in 1985.

The best tribute the Italians can give is to put on a great show of football for their Belgian hosts. I'm sure that's what the Juventus fans would want; they who went to watch a game of football in the first place. Heysel was a black night in European Football, and there's no need for the Italians to try and score a propaganda goal before the kick-off. Not all Italian fans are angels and this could even provoke the hooligan element into their form of remembrance tribute.

On the pitch, Maldini has proved that he's not only a daddy's boy and is determined to make this his year with a Champions medal. The Italy Maldini has played for have a habit of loosing out on penalties (Italia90 World Cup semi-finals to Argentina; US94 final to Brazil; and France98 quarter-final to France). Wisdom says Maldini should encourage his team to go for the win, instead of concentrating on not losing.

If Italy make it to the final, the Italian captain will also be one cap short of Dino Zoff's record of 112 Italian appearances. The Italian coach used to play in goal for Italy.

While Italy have the individuals capable of turning a game, Belgium's strength lies in their current team spirit and home advantage. Perhaps that's why Maldini wants to unsettle the atmosphere before the start of this very important match for both countries.

Italy Team:
12-Francesco Toldo
3-Paolo Maldini, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 13-Alessandro Nesta, 17-Gianluca Zambrotta
15-Mark Iuliano, 4-Demetri Albertini, 8-Antonio Conte, 18-Stefano Fiore
9-Filippo Inzaghi, 20-Francesco Totti.

Belgium Team:
1-Filip de Wilde
18-Nico van Kerckhoven, 3-Joos Valgaeren, 4-Lorenzo Staelens, 2-Eric Deflandre
8-Bart Goor, 11-Gert Verheyen, 7-Marc Wilmots, 6-Yves Vanderhaeghe
10-Branko Strupar, 9-Emile Mpenza.

Referee: Garcia-Aranda (Sp)

First Half:
Italy soon take the initiative. In the 5th minute Inzaghi was almost turning to celebrate the first goal after he latched on to a rebound from Maldini's attempt to put Italy ahead. There wasn't enough power and the shot was saved.

A minute later, Totti heads in Albertini's cross from the right to rock the Belgians.

Belgium picked themselves up quickly, preventing the Italians from playing their holding game. Bart Goor fired against the Italian crossbar, to let the home fans know that all was not yet lost, in the ninth minute.

Marc Wilmots and Emile Mpenza worked well together to keep Toldo and his defenders alert.

Italy pushed forward too, looking for a second; both teams contributing to an exciting first half.
Half-time: 1-0

Second Half:
At the start of the second half, Belgium tried to get a quick equaliser. Lorenzo Staelens watched his shot, from the edge of the area, go narrowly wide.

Luc Nilis came on for Strupar in the 58th minute and tried countless times to get down the flanks and cross the ball into Emile Mpenza. The Italians were always there.

The Belgians tried other strategies with Wilmots coming through the middle. Italy brought on Del Piero for first half goalscorer Totti, in the 64th minute. Two minutes later, goal number two.

Fiore to Inzaghi, his back to the goal, returns the ball to Fiore again who hits it first time; out of Filip de Wilde's reach.

Mbo Mpenze replaced Verheyen; perhaps the Italians hadn't seen videos of him. But it was not too be. The Italians were too well-organised at the back and broke swiftly on the counter. Belgium played the offside-trap well enough to keep the scoreline respectable.

Result: Italy 2 -- Belgium 0

Man of the Match: Stefano Fiore.

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Thu. 15th June: (Group B)
Game 10 Sweden - Turkey (0-0)
Thanks to this scoreless bore, Italy top group B
and will play the runners-up of England's group.

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