Chances are that Group E at the Euro 2016 finals is going to deliver premium excitement, and not only because the four sides are pretty evenly matches, but also due to the fact that their respective fans tend to go above and beyond to support their teams in the best possible way. With Euro 2012 finalists Italy on a major downtrend at the moment, it is star-studded Belgium that have been made the favourites to win this group, although Zlatan-inspired Sweden and hard-working Republic of Ireland also arrive in France in confident mood and looking to impress at the biggest stage.
The Golden Generation of Belgian football has yet to mount a serious title challenge at a major competition, but this looks like a very good chance to do so. The Red Devils are spoilt for quality options in all areas of the pitch and they have been making steady progress over the last couple of years. The good news is that star player Eden Hazard has rediscovered his form, while the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Dries Mertens are all in a good moment, although it has to be noted that Belgium boss Marc Wilmots faces a serious defensive headache with four centre-backs forced to withdraw due to injury. Nevertheless, we still believe the Red Devils will prove their worth and leave the other three teams to trail in their wake.
Prediction: Belgium to finish in 1st place
Betting Odds: 2.20 (6/5) @Betfair
Sweden experienced some problems in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, but they showed a considerable improvement in the final stages and eventually secured their place via the play-offs. Blagult head into the tournament finals knowing that this is probably the final opportunity to take advantage of superstar forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has been in tremendous form this term. The 34-year-old is a real leader of this team and has been scoring goals for fun on international level, while Sweden also boast plenty of talent in other areas and work really well as a team. We, therefore, predict they will enjoy a successful tournament and see plenty of value in backing Blagult to finish in 2nd place.
Prediction: Sweden to finish in 2nd place
Betting Odds: 4.20 (16/5) @Ladbrokes
Many believed that Italy would continue the uptrend in fortunate under Antonio Conte, but that has not been the case as the new Chelsea boss seems better suited for club football. Some of his odd choices and numerous changes to the squad, formation and starting line-up have prevented the Azzurri from gaining any sort of consistency and many agree that this is one of the weakest squads in recent years. Italy will be missing Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti, as well as Andrea Pirlo and Sebastian Giovinco at the tournament finals, and judging by their latest performances, we don’t see how they are going to even come close to repeating the result from the 2012 tournament. Having said that, they should be able to pip Republic of Ireland to the third place.
Prediction: Italy to finish in 3rd place
Betting Odds: 4.20 (16/5) @Betfair
Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland have now made it to successful European Championship finals, but they will be hoping to improve on the 2012 tournament when they were soundly beaten in all three group games. That could prove a difficult task now that they have again been placed in a difficult group, while the Irish also face problems with quite a few out-of-form players. Key men Aiden McGeady and John O’Shea have seen very little action at club level of late, while Robbie Keane is clearly past his prime and Shane Long has been battling injury, so Martin O’Neill’s charges could find it hard to repeat the performances from the qualifying campaign. And while Ireland have become a real force to be reckoned with at home, they have won just two of last 15 matches on the road, beating minnows Georgia and Gibraltar, which is another major cause for concern ahead of the journey to France.
Prediction: Republic of Ireland to finish in 4th place
Betting Odds: 2.30 (13/10) @Betfair
Group E Fixtures
13th June @18:00 – Republic of Ireland vs Sweden
13th June @21:00 – Belgium vs Italy
17th June @15:00 – Italy vs Sweden
18th June @15:00 – Belgium vs Republic of Ireland
22nd June @21:00 – Italy vs Republic of Ireland
22nd June @21:00 – Sweden vs Belgium
Check out also:
Euro 2016 Group A Prediction & Betting Odds
Euro 2016 Group B Prediction & Betting Odds
Euro 2016 Group C Prediction & Betting Odds
Euro 2016 Group D Prediction & Betting Odds
Euro 2016 Group F Prediction & Betting Odds