Belgium vs Republic of Ireland – Group E – 2pm (ITV) – 18.06.16 – Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
Belgium have, in recent tournaments, appeared to be lesser than the sum of their parts.
Despite being able to boast some of the finest young talents in the world, plus a hugely experienced defensive and midfield core, Belgium continue to flatter to deceive.
A lacklustre peformance against Italy continued an underwhelming run of form that began at the 2014 World Cup, and manager Marc Wilmots must admit that change is needed, otherwise this could be another disappointing performance for such a promising team.
Republic of Ireland, however, were unlucky not to beat a Sweden team many thought would walk all over them.
Able to keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet for much of the game, only a Ciaran Clark own goal cancelled out Wes Hoolahan’s opener and the Boys in Green were unfortunate not to come away with more than a point.
Belgium could prove a sterner test, however, and remain a team not to be underestimated. Depending on what Red Devils side turn up, this one could go either way.
Recommendation: Both teams to score at 2.10
Marouanne Fellaini to score a header at 13.00
- Belgium are unbeaten in their last six matches versus the Republic of Ireland (W2 D4). They havent faced each other since November 1997, when Belgium beat the Republic 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier.
- The Republic of Ireland have not beaten Belgium since May 1966
- Republic of Ireland have only been able to record one clean sheet in their seven competitive matches versus Belgium.
- Belgium have conceded a goal in each of their last eight games, their longest run without a clean sheet for 30 years
- The Republic of Ireland won their first game at the EURO finals (1-0 v England in 1988) but have failed to win any of their subsequent six games
- The Republic of Ireland have never scored more than one goal in a game at the European Championships. However, they had four shots on target against Sweden in their opening game; their best ever tally in a EURO game.
- Eden Hazard has yet to score in 458 minutes at major tournaments (World Cup + EURO).
- Robbie Keane has scored 11 goals in his last 13 starts with the Republic of Ireland.