There is much of interest to punters here. In this article, we assess Belgium’s chances of realising their potential, and look at the possibilities of the Republic of Ireland getting through to the Round of 16.
- Republic of Ireland vs. Sweden (Monday, June 13, 5pm)
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Ladbrokes odds: Republic of Ireland win: 21/10 | Draw: 2/1 | Sweden win: 7/5
- Belgium vs. Italy (Monday, June 13, 8pm)
Venue: Stade de Lyon
Ladbrokes odds: Belgium win: 7/5 | Draw: 2/1 | Italy win: 2/1
- Italy vs. Sweden (Friday, June 17, 2pm)
Venue: Stadium de Toulouse
- Belgium vs. Republic of Ireland (Saturday, June 18, 2pm)
Venue: Stade de Bordeaux
- Italy vs. Republic of Ireland (Wednesday, June 22, 8pm)
Venue: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
- Sweden vs. Belgium (Wednesday, June 22, 8pm)
Venue: Stade de Nice
Belgium have never won a major competition. Despite this, their squad is full of world-class players. These include Chelsea’s Eden Hazard, Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku.
Many pundits predicted that they will rule the world one day. Now, according to the FIFA world rankings, they really do.
However, the football world has yet to see Belgium offer any more than potential; if they are to become more than just a promising side, then they need to win a title.
Many were expecting great things from Belgium in the 2014 World Cup. Yet they lost to eventual runners-up, Argentina, in the quarter-finals without ever really hitting their stride.
Euro 2016 is Belgium’s chance to realise their potential. We have them at 5/1 to win the tournament (fourth-favourites). We’re so sure they’ll win the group that we have them at evens, and 1/9 to qualify.
Although they managed to reach the tournament unbeaten, Italy’s current squad pales in comparison to many others in their illustrious past.
In fact, Italy have rarely seemed anything more than average of late: in two games against football nobodies, Malta, the Azzurri could only muster two 1-0 wins.
Despite being runners-up in Euro 2012, Italy have failed to reach the knockout phase of the past two World Cups, having gone drastically downhill since their victory in the 2006.
Given the wealth of talent in the Italy squad, we think they’ll make it out of Group E. For this reason, we have Italy at 2/11 to qualify. But considering their form of late, you may not want to put your house on it.
Sweden have failed to go beyond the group stages of the past two European Championships, and we don’t think they’ll make it this time either.
Sweden do have Zlatan Ibrahimović up-front, who, even at the age of 34, can terrorise defences.
Aside from his talent, the squad doesn’t look like one that will get far in this competition – Sweden lost to a mediocre Russian side and were hammered by Austria in the qualifiers.
Despite this, we’re offering odds of 5/1 for Sweden to go through as group winners and 3/5 to qualify.
Republic of Ireland
Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane have joked that their coaching partnership has a bad cop / worse cop dynamic. Whatever their style, it seems to be working.
Ireland only let in seven goals in a group in which Poland and Germany scored a total of 57 between them. Then of course, you have the fact that they beat Germany 1-0.
At 12/1 to win the group and 12/8 to reach the next round, the Republic of Ireland will need all the help they can get to get out of this group.
However, the fact that they beat the world champions in a qualifier shows that it would be foolish to write them off just yet.
Belgium were a bit of a disappointment in the last World Cup, but if they can harness all the talent in their squad, then they shouldn’t have any issues winning this group.
In fact, if they realise their potential on paper, they should go all the way and win the tournament.
The final match of Group E (Sweden vs. Belgium) is one to look forward to, with Ibrahimović vs. Kompany providing an individual battle to keep spectators across the continent gripped.