Euro 2016 Group E: O’Neill’s Ireland can enjoy further heroics in Belgium battle
Lee Gormley | June 15, 2016
Republic of Ireland v Sweden
- Euro 2016 Group E
- Saturday, June 18th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST
- Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux
- Live on ITV
Irish seek success against stuttering Belgium
Martin O’Neill’s Republic of Ireland had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Sweden in their Euro 2016 Group E opener despite looking the more impressive side throughout, and they next face a stuttering Belgium outfit which was easily dispatched by Italy.
Marc Wilmots’ Red Devils entered the tournament as the number one ranked European nation in FIFA’s standings and were seen as one of the front-runners for overall success on French soil, but an underwhelming performance saw them comfortably toppled by the Azzurri in their opener.
Ireland on the other hand put in a gallant effort against the Swedes, limiting Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s influence to earn a point. With the Belgians having lost and Italy next contesting Sweden, a victory for the Boys in Green could prove decisive and they are 9/2 with Coral to prevail.
Although, the Emerald Isle face a scorned Belgium outfit and they will be out to prove themselves at the second time of asking, making them 11/4 to triumph with both countries scoring in Bordeaux. Meanwhile, Ireland are 14/5 to gain a second group point with another draw at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux.
Boys in Green to face Belgian backlash?
Despite possessing one of the strongest squads on paper, Belgium failed to live up to hype and expectations in their opener against an Italian side guided by future Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, enduring an uninspiring showing.
Everton frontman Romelu Lukaku was unable to transfer his past club form onto the international stage, as the Toffees striker suffered a poor outing against Italy’s three dominant centre backs. Although, Lukaku is 5/1 to bounce back and open proceedings this time out against the Irish.
Liverpool forward Divock Origi also had an evening to forget in his maiden outing, missing a host of chances to get his nation back in the game against Italy, and he is 6/4 to dispatch anytime here, while Christian Benteke is the same price to tuck home.
Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne was one bright spark for his side last time around and is 7/4 to strike, with Chelsea attacker and Belgian skipper Eden Hazard 6/1 to net the game’s final goal.
Hoolahan can continue rich form
With Belgium having struggled first time out, Ireland enjoyed quite a contrasting performance, looking likely of toppling Sweden before a Ciaran Clark own-goal saw them held to a frustrating stalemate.
Norwich City maestro Wes Hoolahan opened the scoring with a superb half-volley and he is 5/1 to find the target once more, while fellow Canaries star and Irish wideman Robert Brady is 6/1 to dispatch after a great opening performance.
Southampton striker Shane Long is set to lead the line once again here and he is 2/1 to open his Euro 2016 account anytime, while veteran marksman Robbie Keane is 8/1 to score the last goal and Jeff Hendrick is 7/1 to get on the scoresheet after coming close on several occasions against Sweden.
The stakes are high for both nations as they prepare for their Bordeaux battle on Saturday afternoon, with Belgium aiming to get off the mark in Group E and Ireland hoping to enhance their chances of edging into the knockout stages on French soil.
What does Coral football ambassador Alan Shearer think ahead of Ireland’s chances against Belgium? Listen to his thoughts below.