Sunday, June 12, 2016

Euro 2016 - Belgium in the big leagues

The first heavyweight clash of the Euros pits the always dangerous Italians against the uber-talented Belgians in the Group E of Death. Belgium beware; Italy don't have a superstar player, yet they always make it difficult for any team to overcome them. The classic Italian scenario relies on their solid defence to demoralize the opposition and wait for the opportune moment to deliver the knock-out blow at the other end.

Belgium are among the favourites in these Euros because of their golden generation of players. On paper, this team has no rival in Europe, let alone in the world. They don't  have 1 maestro but 2 in the form of Hazard and de Bruyne. The only blip for this team is that they will miss their defensive rock and captain Kompany at the back.

If this is going to be a tactical affair, then the Italians have the edge, no doubt. It is inevitable that Belgium will hold much of the ball possession but the question will be whether they can open up the Italian defence and translate that into goals.Italy usually relish these types of encounters where they are not expected to run the play, sit back and soak the pressure and wait for the wave of attacks to crumble one after the other. Counter-attacks will present themselves for them to make the difference at the other end.

These 2 teams are very balanced and I like the idea of a draw here that would leave intact the chances of both teams to go through. Ireland and Sweden will present better opportunities for both teams to bag full points and they will probably play this one out with the utmost caution.

Ireland and Sweden look evenly-matched and even though Ibrahimovic looms large for the Scandinavians, Ireland are very well guided by coach O'Neill and look more on the upside; they can very well bag the 3 points against a yellow team that looks well past its best.

In Group D, the Czech Republic definitely present a clear danger to a Spanish team in search of some form. Spain are no certainties like a few years back. Tiki-taka football no longer reigns supreme.

Draw: Belgium v/s Italy.

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