|Italy will have a hard time defending Belgium's Kyara Linskens, one of the best centers in the tournament with an average of 9.7 points and 9.6 rebounds.|
By Luis Cristovao
Two compact teams that, as Italy head coach Roberto Riccardi puts it, will play "a very tactical game."
Italy does not have a real center in their roster and will struggle to stop Linskens' moves under the basket. The expected is to see Cecilia Zandalasini assuring the job.
Zandalasini is a big part of the Italian success in this tournament. She leads her team in points, rebounds and assists.
She has a strong body and is also decisive for the Italian mental balance. In the crucial moments of the game, she is their go-to player.
Italy's Martina Kacerik might play a surprise role, being taller and able to disturb the Belgian outside shooting.
One thing is for sure, after missing all the team's attempts from the three-point line in the Quarter-Final against the Slovak Republic, Italy will need to improve their shooting from outside.
Belgium head coach Arvid Diels wants to win a title, hoping for a third final in four years.
"My team has no stars, we have a strong team spirit and we feel prepared defensively to every challenge," he states, adding that his players "have some minor injuries but, with some more hours to recover than the Italians, we'll be ready."
Roberto Riccardi believes "Italy is now stronger than last year, and I really hope we can win."
He will have the opportunity to change the game from the bench, as he has in the team the most valuable sixth player in the tournament, Marzia Tagliamento, averaging 8.6 points and 3.6 rebounds, and Francesca Russo, who averages 5.3 points in 11.6 minutes.
The winner will try to rewrite history, as the two teams have, together, won seven silver medals in the history of the U16 European Championship Women, but none of them has ever won the title.