Francesco Acerbi discusses how he neutralised Romelu Lukaku three times in Serie A and hopes Italy can do the same against Belgium.
The Euro 2020 quarter-final kicks off in Munich on Friday at 20.00 UK time.
With Giorgio Chiellini racing to recover and Alessandro Bastoni also an option, Lazio defender Acerbi could again start at centre-back and be tasked with marking Inter hitman Lukaku.
“You stop Lukaku by defending as a team, that is how you stop the individual,” Acerbi told the official UEFA website.
“He is a fantastic striker, he made the difference in Serie A, he is making the difference in a Belgium side that has Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard, and many other immense talents.
“Lukaku is the kind of striker who always has you on your toes. We already faced him, but we know that if you leave him half a chance, he’ll score.
“The group, the squad will be decisive in this match, and it’ll be tough for Italy, but I can assure you Belgium will have a difficult time too.”
Acerbi’s Lazio neutralised Lukaku on three of the four occasions they crossed paths, but in the other match the Inter striker scored a brace.
“Yes, but in that game I was in a wider role than usual because Stefan Radu was injured. We managed to neutralise him with Lazio and we will try to do the same with Italy.
“If everyone gives their all and we work in the same direction, ready to step up and cover if someone makes a mistake, that’s what teamwork is all about,” continued Acerbi.
“Nobody is perfect, you cannot win a trophy by yourself, otherwise Lionel Messi would’ve lifted the World Cup with Argentina. It’s knowing that if there’s a mistake, they’ve got your back, or I have your back, that’s what gets you to progress in tournaments.”
Italy have used more players than any other side at Euro 2020 so far, giving minutes to every player except for third-choice goalkeeper Alex Meret.
“We saw that against Austria it was the substitutes Matteo Pessina and Federico Chiesa who made the difference off the bench. Pessina wasn’t even meant to be in the squad, now he’s one of the best midfielders, and that’s how it should be,” continued the Lazio defender.
“The great thing about this team is we all know what we need to do and are ready when called upon. There’s a game every five or six days and we can’t wait to get out there, hoping to go all the way to the end, representing this shirt and the entire Italian population.
“We know that every game is a knockout now, it’s always 50-50 and we need a bit of luck, but I feel sure we’ll do great things.”