The odds suggest that Belgium will be in charge and, even given their lacklustre performance against Italy, it is hard to see past that. All of our odds filters work for an ASP trade.
Ireland were sadly dealt a blow when suffering an own goal against Sweden in a game that was looking very much like a win for them. That said it was a moment of skill from the Swedish captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic when crossing dangerously into the area that forced the error.
The difference between Italy and Belgium in their game most notably came down to defence. Italy’s defence was as solid as rock and Belgium’s as pliable as paper.
Some facts from the first games played by these two teams:
- Ireland were on fire against Sweden and, before their goal, they hit the woodwork several times and kept the Swedish keeper and defence on their toes. It was the constant pressure that kept the Swedes on the back foot and almost won the Irish the game.
- In reality though, neither Ireland or Sweden looked good enough in their first games to stop Italy and Belgium going through in this group. That said, passion, as we have seen in this tournament several times, can lead to surprising results.
- I mentioned in another blog that Italy looked like a team against Belgium and Belgium looked like a bunch of individuals who do not play well together. Ireland could take advantage of that if there is no change from Belgium.
- Italy outclassed Belgium tactically and in their organisation generally. Much of this could be down to the soon to be Chelsea coach Antonio Conte who seems to have given the Italian squad purpose and passion.
- Belgium have now lost 6 of their last 8 games in Euros competitions.
- Only against England in 1988 have Ireland ever kept a clean sheet in the Euros. That 1-0 result is the only win they have had in the Euros.
- Neither nation have that much Euros experience.
This game should be a win for Belgium given the vast difference in talent in the two teams but we saw that Belgium talent tamed completely by Italy. As plucky as the Irish are though, they are not Italy and their best hope here is for another draw. Given their lack of out and out goal scoring talent that would most likely be a 0-0 draw but if Ireland could open the scoring as they did against Sweden a 1-1 draw seems more likely. My overriding feeling is that if Belgium play even slightly better than they did against Italy then they will win.
My head (as opposed to my heart) tells me that Belgium will approach this game with more need and so I predict a 2-0 or even 3-0 win here. Guard your AO liability carefully if you trade this one.
Belgium need to win or might as well go home. Ireland may be outclassed.