Italy vs. Belgium: Three Things to Watch Out For at Euro 2016

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard at Decines-Charpieu, France. Hazard will feature for Belgium against Italy on Monday night. Handout/UEFA via Getty

Belgium's clash with Italy has been one of the most highly-anticipated fixtures since the Euro 2016 groups were drawn.

On Monday, the two teams, expected to remain in France until the latter stages of the tournament, will take to the field against one another in the European Championships for the first time in 16 years.

Here, Newsweek looks at five things to watch out for at the Stade de Lyon on Monday night.

Attack vs Defense

While Italy's strength—as it is so famous for—comes through a steely defense, Belgium is at its weakest along the back line.

Captain Vincent Kompany, who plays for Manchester City, is resigned to doing punditry after an injury ruled him out of the competition. He is joined by fellow defenders Nicolas Lombaerts, Bjorn Engels and Dedryck Boyata on the sidelines, leaving Belgium thin at the back.

Italy, meanwhile, was unbeaten in qualifying. With Juventus duo Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini at the heart of the Azzurri defense, Italy is not expected to concede too many.

For Belgium in attack, however, captain Eden Hazard and former Chelsea team-mate Kevin De Bruyne, two of the Premier League's most talented players, make up part of a dangerously creative Belgium midfield.

Chelsea Auditions

Antonio Conte, the incoming Chelsea manager, will have the unusual situation of facing two of the players he is inheriting at Stamford Bridge.

Belgium captain Hazard will be pivotal if Belgium is to have any success at the European Championships, with his goal-scoring qualities, while his Blues team-mate Thibaut Courtois looks to keep Italy out.

It will be an audition for the two Belgians in front of their new manager, but also a chance for Conte to get a closer look at Romelu Lukaku and Christian Benteke.

The Italian is reported to be keen to bring Benteke, the Liverpool striker, to west London if he can't pry Lukaku from Everton.

Managers Have History

The last time the two sides met at a major tournament was at Euro 2000, which was co-hosted by Belgium, and the game was won 2-0 by the Italians —who ended runner-up to France.

Stood in the technical areas on Monday night will be Marc Wilmots for Belgium and his Italian counterpart Conte.

The pair both featured in the match 16 years ago.