Belgium's inaugural match of Euro 2016 took place Wednesday versus Italy in the French city of Lyon. The Belgium national team assembled for Euro 2016 is the most talented team ever assembled by Belgium and has world class names like Edem Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois.
The right back of this Belgium squad, playing along with some of the most talented names in football, is none other than our very own Laurent Ciman. Ciman was invited to the Belgian national team after quite a few injuries were sustained by the Belgian back line. Ciman made his case to be placed in the starting 11 during an international friendly versus Norway when the Impact's defender scored the winning goal.
During the opening 25 minutes, Belgium had substantial ball possession in the Italian's end but were unable to create any concrete scoring opportunities. After the 1st half hour of play, it was the Italians turn to go on the attack. In the 32nd minute, Italy stunned Belgium by taking the lead. A long ball was sent over the heads of both Laurent Ciman and Toby Alberweireld. Giaccherini controlled the ball magnificently before tucking it to the right of the Belgian keeper, Thibaut Courtois, for the first goal of the match. The pass sent in by Leonardo Bionucci was inch perfect but, if Belgian is to challenge in this Euro, the defending will need to be taken to the next level.
Belgium continued to struggle defensively in the 35th minute. After a corner, Marouane Fellaini deflected the ball upwards and no Belgian players made a play for the aerial ball in the box. Ultimately, the ball was headed along for Pelle who missed a glorious opportunity from around 7 yards out.
The 2nd half did not offer any more solutions for the Belgian squad. Their best opportunity came in the form of a quick counter attack. That sequence debuted when Laurent Ciman intercepted deep in Belgium's third. The ball was then quickly played down and striker Romelu Lukaku found himself one on one with Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon. Lukaku narrowly missed the upper right of Italy's net.
Italy put the game out of Belgium's reach in the 92nd minute when Pelle converted a half volley from Antonio Candreva. Pelle's goal was the result of Belgium committing many bodies forward in order to find the equalizing goal.
Laurent Ciman was subbed off in the 76th minute for the more offensive Yannick Corrasco. During Ciman's 76 minutes of play, he accomplished a few of his trademark sliding tackles. He was solid defensively even though he can shoulder part of the blame on Italy's 1st goal. Ciman also contributed to Belgium's attack with important interceptions along his right wing. One of those interceptions led to Belgium's best scoring opportunity of the match. All in all, Laurent Ciman did not look out of place facing a much more talented group of opponents than he will ever find in the MLS.