Belgium v Ireland, Saturday June 18
Bordeaux, Live on ITV, 2pm
On Saturday Belgium meet the Repulic of Ireland at the Nouveau Stade de Bourdeaux (2pm, ITV) in the second match for both of these Group E teams. Both Ireland and Belgium will have come away from their opening matches with varying degrees of regret – the Irish will feel as though they should have taken all three points from their match with Sweden and Belgium will feel disappointed with virtually every aspect of their performance in their loss to Italy.
Ireland – the story so far
There were plenty of positives for Irish boss Martin O’Neill to take away from Ireland’s first Group E match against Sweden. They bossed the first 50 minutes of the game and created chances throughout that entire period. Seamus Coleman was a constant threat down the right hand side and he linked up superbly with Wes Hoolahan for Ireland’s first goal.
Ireland were so dominant in the first half and it was hugely disappointing the extent to which they went into their shell as soon as they found the goal they’d so richly deserved. As soon as the goal went in Ireland began inviting more and more pressure on to themselves and the goal from Sweden when it finally arrived through a Ciaran Clark’s own goal felt inevitable.
Belgium – the story so far
Rarely has a side promised so much and performed so poorly as Belgium did in their opening game. The finest generation of players the nation has ever produced still look world-class on paper but on the pitch, boss Marc Wilmots seems incapable of forming into a cohesive unit. Against Italy they had their chances to score, but simply weren’t as clinical as their Italian counterparts.
Against Ireland, Dries Mertens looks to be in line for a start, and Wilmots will be looking towards frontman Romelu Lukaku to provide a far more of a cutting edge upfront. Certainly the Everton striker might benefit for coming up against more familiar faces in Ireland’s all Premier League defence.
Ireland will be full of confidence following their opening round match, but they need to be wary of a wounded Belgium. The bulk of Belgium’s starting line-up are based in England and the match will have a real feel of the Premier League about it. It’s possible that this will benefit the Belgians more so than the Irish, but they will have the added pressure of knowing that a defeat will all but end their hopes for Euro 2016 before it’s even got started
- Under 2.5 goals @
- Half time – Draw. Full time – Draw @
- J O’Shea to score with a header in 90mins @
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