No hiding place for Conte in opener
Published 13/06/2016 | 02:30
Euro 2016 will be Antonio Conte's only shot at taking Italy through a tournament and he is not taking any chances.
Not only will he be relying on the core of the Juventus side he took to back-to-back Serie A titles, he refused the option to train at the stadium in case his tactics were spied on by Belgium. Instead, all Italy's preparations were done behind the closed doors of their training base in Montpellier.
To those who watched them complain endlessly about the heat in Brazil during the World Cup, this is a familiar Italian paranoia.
There are, however, unlikely to be too many surprises when the team sheets are handed in.
Most expect Conte to go with three centre-backs - all from Juventus - with Manchester United's Matteo Darmian on the left as a wing-back.
Belgium coach Marc Wilmots seemed unconcerned by all the secrecy. "The Italians are at their most dangerous when they are pushed into a corner," he said.
"Conte could well be preparing a team of warriors. I can see why Conte has done what he has done but I am not bothered. I have no fear of spies."
BELGIUM (4-3-3): Courtois; Alderweireld, Vermaelen, Denayer, Vertongen; Nainggolan, Fellaini, Witsel; De Bruyne, Lukaku, Hazard.
ITALY (3-5-2): Buffon; Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Candreva, Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini, Darmian; Eder, Pelle.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England)