Belgium coach Roberto Matinez admits it’s a ‘race against the clock’ to recover Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne for the game against Italy tomorrow.
The Azzurri and the Red Devils meet at Munich’s Allianz Arena in the quarter-finals of UEFA Euro 2020 on Friday.
It kicks off at 8 pm UK time.
Belgium beat Portugal 1-0 last week, but their stars De Bruyne and Hazard suffered injuries and have not been able to train with the rest of the team since.
Italy needed extra time to have the better of Austria in the Round of 16 and seal a 2-1 win with goals from Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina.
“We respect Italy. They are a great team, with top players and an incredible commitment. They press and they are dynamic. They defend as a team and they play really well thanks to their coach,” Martinez said at a press conference.
“Mancini brought his winning mentality to Manchester City, we’ve seen his ideas at Italy. They press high up the pitch, they are aggressive and it’s their best quality.”
Martinez hopes to recover both De Bruyne and Hazard, but the Real Madrid winger is in danger of missing out on the encounter with the Azzurri.
“As you all know, they were not able to train today. There are still 24 hours before the game, it’s a race against the clock,” the Belgium coach said.
“If they are to miss the game tomorrow, we’d like them to be available for the next matches. It will be hard to recover Eden, he’s suffered a muscle injury, De Bruyne has a different problem. A decision is up to the medical staff, we’ll decide once we’ve spoken with them.
“Kevin is the best No.10 in the world, every coach would want to have him, but he must be 100 per cent fit. We’ll know it tomorrow, now it’s difficult to know,” the coach continued.
“Two strong teams will meet tomorrow. We’ve won 14 games, only Germany have managed as much, it’s a shame to meet them now, for both teams. We must be ready.”
Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini has recovered from an injury and is expected to start tomorrow.
The Azzurri captain warned more to Belgium than Romelu Lukaku, who will be one of the men to watch in the Red Devils’ squad tomorrow.