EURO 2016: Belgium-Ireland
The opening Saturday game will offer an interesting Group E clash between Belgium and Ireland. The Belgians have what is generally considered their best national team ever but they failed to take advantage of that in their opener against Italy who they lost 0:2 to. The Irish produced a better start, claiming a 1:1 draw against Sweden in their first duel. Looking to build on the point, they are prepared to get all maximum points in their next fixture and secure their spot in the round of 16. Kicking off at 3 PM (CET), the battle Belgium versus Ireland will be played at Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux in the city of Bordeaux.
After producing great results in both their qualifiers and preparatory duels, Belgium were high on confidence ahead of the tournament. The team travelled to France with medal ambitions but it was in their very first match when they were brought back to reality after Italy beat them 2:0. Italy, who could not compare to Belgium in terms of individual quality, gave a great collective performance in the game, completely outshining the Belgian stars. After the defeat, the position of WilmotsÃ‚Â´ men in the group standings is very unfavourable as Belgium are currently rooted to the bottom. In order to advance from the group stage, they urgently need to start gaining points but beating their next rivals Ireland will not be easy either. Similarly to Italy, Ireland also base their game style on sturdy defence, which might be very hard to get through for the Belgians. Let us see if they learned their lesson from the first match and deliver a more convincing performance against Ireland.
After having been drawn into one of the toughest groups at the tournament, Ireland were not expected to qualify for the knock-out stage but judging by the teamÃ‚Â´s showing they gave in their opener against Sweden, they actually might have a good chance of advancing further. Led by one of the worldÃ‚Â´s best attackers Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedes were supposed to dominate the pitch but eventually, it was the Irish who were more dangerous. The British side even took the lead with just a few minutes into the second half after Hoolahan volleyed a goal. Unfortunately for the Irish, a late own goal from Clark eventually drew both teams level on 1:1 score. Nevertheless, Ireland put in a solid performance in the encounter and if they improve their attack creativity and finish, they can definitely stand a chance against Belgium. The Belgians might be the favourites of the match but in fact, a draw is the most likely result as five of the last seven head-to-head matches between Belgium and Ireland ended up in ties.
Determined to atone for the disappointing display they produced in their opener against Italy, Belgium are hoping to clinch their first win to avoid an early exit at the tournament. Ireland achieved a better result in their first duel but they still need at least three more points to have certainty of advancement to the play-offs. With both of these sides having a lot to play for, we are up for a great football battle. Will Belgium redeem their face and earn their first victory? Or will it be Ireland who will be more satisfied with the outcome of this interesting clash? We will know by Saturday afternoon.
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