The captain’s armband has been given to Eden Hazard, who is looking to lead Belgium to a sterling finish at the European Championship
The Chelsea midfielder has taken on more of a leadership role due to the injury that ruled Vincent Kompany out of the European Championship.
However, the 25-year-old’s rise is also tied to the Red Devils emergence from a side full of young starlets to a mature squad with ample quality
Beyond that, Hazard’s supporting cast of players will make him especially dangerous against the Azzurri.
A growing partnership with Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has spear-headed the Belgians in attack, while striker Romelu Lukaku has long been a force in the penalty area.
Meanwhile, the Blues man is also eager to test his skill against Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on Monday.
“I’d like to play against the Old Lady’s shot-stopper, even if his career is nearing its end,” the 25-year-old said. “He’s won a lot, and I respect him immensely.”
In addition, Hazard is also looking to impress Italy boss Antonio Conte, who is set to become Chelsea’s man in charge for the coming Premier League season.
“I want to show my next coach that he can count on me,” the Belgian captain said. “For now though, we are here, in France, and it will be a tough Euro 2016. I prefer us to be considered outsiders, so we can play without pressure.”
That said, the Belgium skipper is not overlooking what a win against the Azzurri could mean for the Red Devils and their hopes of making it far in the tournament.
“Beating Italy would guarantee us respect from other countries,” the 25-year-old said. “We’re not favourites.”
Adapted from an article in La Gazzetta dello Sport by Alessandro Bocci