- Arthiac Team
Gianluigi Donnarumma led the Italians as he was given the armband at such a young and tender age of 22.
Roberto Mancini and his boys were looking to get off to a firing start in the game as they looked to put a Lukaku-less Belgium side on the back foot.
Just as the Belgians were looking to grow into the game, the Italians had their own little ingredient of Italian spice and edge to their attacking play.
Juve's Locatelli tested the gloves of Thibaut Courtois from range which was followed by some really good link up play by Chiesa and Raspadori.
It is fair to say that Italy were looking to press higher up the field and put a lot of pressure on the men in white. The ever so lively Chiesa found a little space in between the Belgian defence and fired in a shot on target, but once again Courtois was there.
The 2020 Euro champions came to win and they were out there testing the aging Belgian defence with Berella attempting a long range shot on goal.
Chiesa was the real bright spark in the first half for the Italians with his driving pace and his ability to just come alive as the clock ticked on.
It was the Juve forward who nearly put Italy in front after taking a brilliant ball from Berardi into his stride, but his effort of goal was kept out exceptionally from Real Madrid's goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois.
The second half began and once again, the men in blue looked to press higher and they reaped the reward of their high press from a corner as a poor header from the Belgians let the ball dropped at the feet of Barella who lashed at it ferociously with venom as Courtois could not keep this one out as the Italian fans roared with joy at the sight of that thunderous goal. That is how you strike a volley!
Italy grew into the game a lot more as they were confident as their high press put a lot of pressure on the Belgians as they conceded a penalty through a poor tackle from Castagne and Berardi did not miss the opportunity to find the net as he converted his penalty to give Italy a 2-0 lead.
As we said earlier, the Italians came to win, they showed that spirit and fight and they got what they came for. There might be no medal, but they have risen and shown the fight and character of true champions.
Italy - Player ratings
Donnarumma: 7.5 - He rode his luck in goal as Belgium hit the woodwork thrice, but his real test came in the second half as he was forced to make a few good saves to deny Belgium.
He probably struggled to get down with the goal he conceded.
Emerson: 6.5 - He was not upto speed in the first half of the game, but came alive in the second half with immense drive and thrust up front.
Bastoni: 7 - Linked up really well with his defensive partner and shut down many Belgian attacks as they kept Batshuayi and Carrasco quiet.
Acerbi: 7.5 - The experienced one amongst the two centre-backs and he led by example as he headed away many Belgian crosses and kept denying spaces in the centre of the penalty box for the Belgians.
Di Lorenzo: 6 - He had a pretty good game in attack as well as defence. Contributed on an even scale in both halves of the pitch.
Barella: 8.5 - He had an industrious first half with an attempt of goal, but his thunderous volley in the back of the net within the opening two minutes of the second half was breathtaking.
Locatelli: 6 - Most of his work was as a sweeper as he made a few good tackles.
Pellegrini: 6 - The midfielder was relatively quiet in the first half, but showed some drive and determination in the second half along with a few misplaced passes.
Berardi: 8 - The Sassuolo man was creative in the final third of Italy's attacking half and he also pulled the strings in midfield to bail Italy out of tight spaces.
He could've got an assist to his name as he found Chiesa right at the end of the first half.
However, he scored an edgy penalty and sealed the deal for the Italians.
Raspadori: 6 - He had a good start in the opening exchanges of the game, but nearly disappeared as the game went on. His evening was cut short at the hour mark.
A good experience for Italy's rising talent.
Federico Chiesa: 7 - As always, the Italian winger was full of energy and pace up front as he gave the Belgian defenders a good run for their money.
He probably deserved a lot more rewards from the game, but he was denied by some top-notch goalkeeping from Thibaut Courtois.
- Moise Kean: 5.5 - The Juve striker came on to hold the ball up in the attacking half for Italy, he wasn't able to do much, but his aggression kept the Belgian defenders on their toes.
- Jorginho: 5 - He pulled out a few silky moves to get Italy out of congested areas.
- Bryan Cristante: 4 - Came on at a time when Belgium were pushing for a goal. He won a few battles and kept things simple.
- Lorenzo Insigne: 3 - He could not have any impact on the game.
- Bernardeschi: Not fair for us to rate him as he came on with barely 3 minutes left on the clock.
Roberto Martinez and his boys took the pressure in the opening two minutes of the game, but they put their foot down and built quietly as their first attempt on goal came through Michy Batshuayi.
Toby Alderweireld had an opportunity to put Belgium in front through a corner kick, but Saelemaekers came ever so close to give the Belgians the lead as Batshuayi pulled back, rolled it into the feet of the AC Milan striker as Saelemaekers' effort hit the crossbar.
The men in white kept the ball really well in midfield on many occasions in the first half, but they were unable to push forward with real intent as the men in blue came gunning down to hunt the ball down.
Thibaut Courtois came up with a stunning save at the end of the first half as he kept Federico Chiesa's effort on target out of the way for the Belgians. Top-notch save there from Courtois!
The second half began poorly for the Belgians as they conceded the opening goal in the opening 2 minutes of the second half with Barella's sublime volley.
Michy Batshuayi was quiet, but he nearly found the back of the net as his effort of goal deflected onto the crossbar.
Castagne's poor challenge gave Italy the opportunity to take a 2 goal lead as Berardi converted his penalty which rubbed salt to the Belgian wounds.
With just over 20 minutes left on the clock, Alderweireld nearly pulled one back, but Donnarumma palmed it away.
Belgium's best chances on goal came from their defender Alderweireld, but Donnarumma kept denying them.
It just didn't seem like it was Belgium's evening as they hit the woodwork thrice in the game (once in the first and twice in the second) as Yannick Carrasco hit the post following some really good build up play through Kevin De Bruyne.
However, Roberto Martinez and his boys pulled a goal back through De Ketelaere as he squeezed in a goal through the Italian keeper's legs.
Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for Belgium as they were knocked out once again in the latter stages of a major tournament as doubts have risen from their semi final against France, if they could actually win a trophy with their golden generation ageing.
Belgium Player Ratings
Courtois: 7 - The keeper had to make a few first half saves in the first half, but the one save where he denied Chiesa was one of the highlights of the first half.
Unfortunately, he couldn't do anything much with Barella's goal, but he made crucial cross interruptions and saves to keep Belgium in the game.
He was put under pressure when he had to save the penalty. Sadly, he couldn't keep it out even though he got his fingertips on it.
However, he deserves a lot of credit for Belgium's goal as he instantly unleashed Kevin De Bruyne.
Vertonghen: 6 - He struggled to keep up to pace with Berardi and Chiesa, but he did decently well to deny them. Age is certainly catching up with the centre-back.
Denayer: 6 - He did reasonably well as he couldn't do much with both the goals conceded.
His physical and aerial abilities will be questioned in the future.
Alderweireld: 6.5 - He had an attempt on target in the first half which was easy for the Italian keeper to collect. Received a poor yellow card for his reaction after they conceded a penalty.
The defender had three attempts on target, but the huge figure of Donnarumma denied him thrice.
Vanaken: 4.5 The midfielder just couldn't make a significant impact in the game as he struggled to find his feet in the thick of the action.
Tielemans: 4 - He looked to create play in the middle of the park, but was restricted by the Italians.
He also had a poor start in the second half as he had no answers in the game and was quickly substituted before the hour mark.
Witsel: 4.5 - The midfielder progressed forward and also kept an eye on Chiesa to prevent his speedy forward runs.
Clearly struggled in the second half of the game as he was unable to create play and keep up defensively with the Italians.
Castagne: 4 The Leicester City right-wing back struggled to link up with his teammates in the first-half.
Conceded a poor penalty as his effort to pinch the ball away from Chiesa was not timed well and drew a penalty.
Yannick Carrasco: 6.5 - He looked to provide some finesse on the left-hand side of Belgium's attack in the first-half, but couldn't really deliver.
He was much more involved in the second half of the game as he looked to provide answers. Unfortunately, he hit the woodwork.
Batshuayi: 6 - Started the game well with an attempt on goal and got set-up for Saelemaekers in the first half, but he was quiet as the game went on.
Nearly found a breakthrough, but he couldn't do much. He too was amongst those that hit the woodwork.
Saelemaekers: 5 - The young winger tried to link up well with his teammates and succeeded at certain stages in the game.
He nearly gave Belgium the lead, but his effort hit the crossbar. He couldn't make any contribution in the second half and was subsequently substituted before the hour mark.
Kevin De Bruyne: 7 - The Man City midfielder came on at the hour mark and looked to thread in a few passes and find a way to break through the Italian defence, but a lot of blue shirts denied him.
However, the Belgian got an assist which made things look interesting with 5 minutes left on the clock.
De Ketelaere: 7 - Came on at the hour mark and was quiet until his goal with less than 5 minutes left on the clock.
He scored his first goal in Belgian colours as he squeezed it through Donnarumma's long legs.
Leandro Trossard: Came on in the dying minutes of the game. Not fair from us to rate him.