The Juventus defender is well aware of the threat the Inter star will pose in their Euro 2020 quarter-final clash
Italy have “great respect” for Romelu Lukaku, according to Giorgio Chiellini, who says the Azzurri are braced for a tough test against the Belgium striker.
Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena will play host to a heavyweight Euro 2020 clash between Italy and Belgium on Friday night, where both teams will be defending 100 per cent records.
Lukaku has played a key role in the Red Devils’ run to the last eight, and Chiellini is well aware of the threat the forward will pose the Azzurri after seeing him fire Inter to their first Serie A crown in 11 years last season.
What’s been said?
However, Chiellini, who has just become a free agent after the expiration of his contract at Juventus, has warned that Lukaku is not the only player in Belgium’s ranks that Italy will have to keep quiet in order to set up a semi-final tie with either Spain or Switzerland.
“From all of us there is great respect for Lukaku, for his extraordinary season at Inter,” the 36-year-old told a pre-match press conference. “To limit Belgium to Lukaku is offensive to his teammates, they are all really great players.
“We will prepare it as we always have. We’ll both sleep well tonight, me and Romelu.”
Italy & Belgium’s Euro 2020 journeys so far
Italy were drawn in Group A at this summer’s European Championships alongside Turkey, Switzerland and Wales, all of whom proved to be light opponents for Roberto Mancini’s side.
The Azzurri beat both the Turks and the Swiss by a 3-0 scoreline to book their place in the Round of 16 before rounding off their pool campaign with a comfortable 1-0 victory against Wales.
Mancini’s men were rewarded with a first knockout stage tie against Austria, who they managed to overcome 2-1 after extra-time thanks to goals from Federico Chiesa and Matteo Pessina.
Belgium, meanwhile, reached the last 16 after finishing top of Group B, opening with a 3-0 win over Russia before beating Denmark 2-1 and Finland 2-0.
Roberto Martinez’s side were then pitted against 2016 winners Portugal, and got the better of the Cristiano Ronaldo-led outfit thanks to a fierce strike from Thorgan Hazard.
Chiellini on his future
After finishing his duties with Italy at the Euros, Chiellini will turn his attention to sorting out where he will be playing his club football next season.
The towering centre-back has spent the last 16 years of his career in Turin, and it has been reported that Juventus are planning to re-sign him for one more year.
Chiellini is technically without a club at this moment in time, but he has compared his situation to that of Lionel Messi at Barcelona, with the Argentine also expected to commit to fresh terms with his current employers despite becoming a free agent.
“Me out of contract like Messi? We also have being left-handed in common!” he said when quizzed on his future. “The dynamics of a strange year. ..I don’t think about it, I’m calm.”