Group E

The group of death has the side with the most potential in the shape of Belgium. World number one when the draw was made for Euro 2016, Marc Wilmots has a wealth of match winners in his final 23. Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne playing together with Romelu Lukaku, Batshuayi and ‘Elbows’ Fellaini is a tactical dream. But they’re in with former champions Italy who were unbeaten in qualifying yet only scored 16 times in the group. Antonio Conte’s heading to Stamford Bridge when the tournament ends and could take one of his all-Juventus backbone of Italy with him. Daniel De Rossi will need to be on top form as none of Italy’s strikers are proven at international level. Republic of Ireland will win everything. Or so we dream. They famously beat Germany and secured qualification after overcoming Bosnia in a playoff. They were destroyed four years ago in Poland and the Ukraine and have been handed a nightmare group again. With an aging squad, it’ll take three more miracles to get into the last 16. Completing Group E are Sweden who will want to send Zlatan Ibrahimovic off in style in what will surely be his final international tournament. He scored three of Sweden’s four goals in the playoff against Denmark but if he has an off day, Sweden do too. Cut off the supply to Zlatan and you could off Sweden, something Ireland would do well to take note of.

This article is on an older (but otherwise lovely) version of the Paddy Power Blog. Still want to go ahead?

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