It’s a case of do or die for the Belgians as they take on the boys in green on Saturday afternoon. Does Will Burns think Les Diables Rouges can win their first game, read on to find out…
Saturday 18th June 2016 – 14:00 BST
EURO 2016 – GROUP E
BELGIUM v REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
In a team full of star studded players, Belgium posted a poor performance in their opening game, suffering a 2-0 defeat to an Italy side that themselves had their faults. Marc Wilmots’ men failed to capitalise and the manager himself was placed under pressure by the fans in attendance. The Belgium coach was booed for his substitutions and at the final whistle and he will look to his side to change their and his fortunes against Martin O’Neill’s Ireland on Saturday afternoon.
In a contrast to Italy whose ageing stars continue to perform, Wilmots is continuing to see underwhelming displays and resorted to singling out Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku in the press for ineffective displays, and rightly so. Wilmots’ focus on individuals as he watches his side perform like a collection of them is very telling. Simply, they must improve and this is a must-win contest.
Ireland on the other hand clawed a 1-1 draw with Sweden after Wes Hoolahan’s rapturous goal was cancelled out by Ciaran Clark’s unfortunate depressing own goal. O’Neill’s men showed that they can dominate a game and should have led before Hoolahan’s beautiful half volley. Chances missed by John O’Shea and Shane Long while Jeff Hendrick crashed a great long range effort off the crossbar.
In this game, like I said earlier, this is a MUST-WIN contest for Belgium. I see them having far too much quality, even though its individual quality, however quality nonetheless for Ireland. Remember this will be a must-win for Ireland too if there have any hopes of progressing past the group stage. I see this being an open with goals so Over 2.5 Goals is a bet that is worth looking at.
TIP: Over 2.5 Goals (2.20 at Betfair)
TIP: Belgium to win (1.80 at StanJames.com)