Belgium v Republic of Ireland
Saturday June 18, 11:00pm
Belgium were fancied to beat what was widely regarded as a poor Italian side in their opening game of the tournament, but the Italians proved to be anything but that as they were 2-0 victors. Republic of Ireland, meanwhile, were unfortunate not to beat Sweden in their opener as an own goal meant they had to settle for a 1-1 draw, despite the Swedes not registering a single shot on target.
Belgium continue to struggle defensively as they’ve managed only one clean sheet in their last 12 matches and have conceded twice in three of their last five. The absence of Vincent Kompany is a large reason for those struggles, with Thomas Vermaelen operating at centre back despite missing the majority of last season through injury. Belgium’s record when playing sides they’re ranked between eight and 28 places higher than is W6-D0-L2 since 2012, though they’ve only managed two clean sheets in the last six of these games.
Republic of Ireland
The Republic of Ireland made it three draws in their last four against Sweden, but they’ve only lost two of their last 15 and their record when playing sides ranked between 7th and 17th in the world is a decent W5-D4-L4 since 2008. These games have tended to be tight affairs with at least one team failing to score in eight of these games and nine seeing fewer than three goals, with six having less than two.
Belgium looked bereft of ideas against the Italians and whilst Conte’s side could prove to be one of the best defensively in the tournament, the Irish are certainly capable of frustrating some of the bigger names in international football as they’ve managed draws against England and the Netherlands in recent times, as well as beating Germany in qualification. As a result, we’re siding with Martin O’Neil’s men to avoid defeat in this one and leave the Belgians with it all to do to qualify.
BACK – Republic of Ireland +0.5 Asian Handicap at 2.27