The last time Roberto Martinez & Roberto Mancini met was the 2013 FA Cup final where Ben Watson headed Wigan to a famous victory over high-flying Man City. That defeat signalled the end of Mancini’s three-and-a-half-year spell in Manchester in which the foundations of success in the Sheikh Mansour era were laid.
Mancini is currently on the verge of something special with the Italian national team which would define him as a manager even more than his 2012 title at City. All that his standing in his way is a side managed by Roberto Martinez.
Friday’s second quarterfinals game is a meeting between the top-ranked side in the world in Belgium managed by Martinez and Italy team managed by Mancini, who has beaten Vittorio Pozzo’s record of 30 straight unbeaten run to set a national record of 31 matches unbeaten and 12 wins in a row.
The Red Devils will face the Azzuri at Allianz Arena for a spot in the semifinals — a rematch of the EURO 2016 group stage match where Italy defeated Belgium 2-0 with goals by Giaccherini and Pelle.
On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard both missed Belgium’s final training session before their #Euro2020 quarterfinal against Italy on Friday.
Belgium eliminated Portugal from the European Championship in Seville, following a first-half belter from Thorgan Hazard — in a game that ended with couple of injuries.
Providing an update on both players, Martinez said that De Bruyne sustained an ankle injury, while Hazard picked up a muscle injury.
He is unhappy that Belgium’s last 16 opponents Portugal were allowed to get away with so many fouls after De Bruyne suffered an ankle injury on Sunday, while Hazard pulled up holding his hamstring.
“It was a disappointment for me that Portugal were allowed to really stop counter-attacks with a lot of fouls so many times. Kevin’s injury comes from a situation where Palhinha shouldn’t have been allowed to do that and should already been booked. The yellow card could have been a red card.” – Martinez
With a fully fit Azzurri side, Roberto Mancini side is the favorite to come out top when they face a Hazardless Red Devils. But the Italian have to be wary of Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku is one of the few players to have won multiple Star of The Match in this campaign, having three goals to his name and just two behind the eliminated leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo.
He has scored past the Azzurri goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in all four of the Milan derbies the pair have contested over the past two years.
The Azzurri defence always carries an aura, and the current crop are adding to the myth established by Catenaccio with a run of 11 clean sheets in 12 outings.
“Mancini’s Italy is a real team, united. There is a balance between defense and attack and everyone is fighting together. I don’t think Belgium are favorites, it will be a balanced match. It will depend on determination and attention to detail,” says Conte. “Other sides have stars but Italy have the group and a good style of football.”
Belgium, though, have Lukaku.