There is no doubt that Group D is “The Group of Death” at Euro 2016 but Group E is no slouch either. Belgium, Italy, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland form a group that will be tough to get out of let alone win.
Belgium has been on everbody’s radar to make some noise at this level and France 2016 could be the time and place for this team to make the leap we’ve been waiting for.
Italy, the once proud football power house, will be eager to return to European glory. It has been some 48 years since Italy lifted the Euro trophy, but can this crop of footballers lead their nation to the promised land?
We take a look at the odds to win Group E at Euro 2016 with odds coming from online shop Bodog.
Many pundits and experts have been waiting for Belgium to make a splash on the international level for some time and this may be the summer that we see a strong result out of the Red Devils.
Belgium has been going through somewhat of a Golden Generation in recent years and has been churning out star after star like a football factory. Sadly, and maybe a bit surprisingly, all Belgium has to show for it is a quarterfinal appearance in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup.
One look at the squad list and you instantly know this team is better than a QF showing. Belgium is a who’s who of footballing stardom and it starts at the back with the Tottenham duo of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen.
This tandem has the pedigree to be Euro 2016’s best CB duo, but Belgium’s lack of fullbacks may split the tandem up with Vertonghen able to play LB and Alderweireld capble of manning the RB spot. It would be a shame if this were to happen, but we’ve seen it before.
That said, the quality doesn’t begin and end there. In the midfield, find names like Yannick Carrasco, Kevin De Bruyne, Mousa Dembélé, Eden Hazard and Axel Witzel. Looking for forwards? Try Michy Batshuayi, Christian Benteke and, of course, Romelu Lukaku.
The team is loaded and it will just be a matter of all this talent coming together, buying into what head coach Marc Wilmots is trying to do and everything should fall into place.
France 2016 could be the time we see the stars align for this squad.
Once one of the planet’s football powerhouses, Italy has fallen on harder times recently. Serie A is not even close to what it once used to be and Gli Azzurri is a shell of their former great selves.
Following a great runner-up showing at Euro 2012, Italy did not escape the group stage at the 2014 World Cup; a repeat of their porous showing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The Italians did win their qualifying group, bagging 24 points with seven wins and three draws, finishing four points ahead of Croatia. They did so in un-Italian fashion, however, as they allowed seven goals in their 10 matches and kept a clean sheet just four times. Not the catenaccio brand we’re used to from Italy.
The side lacks the star quality of the all-world players of days past like Roberto Baggio, Paolo Maldini and Andrea Pirlo. The one player that could have potentially soared to the heights of that legendary triumvirate was PSG midfielder Marco Verratti and he is going to miss out with sports hernia injury.
Pressure will be on Southampton strike Graziano Pellè to bag goals but expect support to come in the form of Napoli’s diminutive maestro Lorenzo Insigne. Insigne is coming off a fantastic season for Napoli after he tallied 12 goals and bagged 10 assists for the second-placed Partenopei.
The Swedes finished third in Group G and qualified via the playoff stages after defeating Denmark 4-3 on aggregate after a 2-1 win in Solna and a 2-2 draw in Copenhagen.
Their qualifying group was tough as it featured an almost-perfect Austrian side as well as the Russians, who finished two points ahead of the Swedes.
As the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic goes, so goes Sweden. If he can be stopped, this team can be beaten soundly, but if he has room to move and do Zlatan things, Sweden will be dangerous and could very well advance out of this group.
Zlatan tallied eight goals in qualifying – more than half the 15 Sweden bagged as a team – and is coming off a domestic campaign where he scored an incredible 38 for PSG.
It would take a Herculean effort for Sweden to win this group, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility. If Zlatan has time and space, he’ll beat anyone.
The Boys in Green are another side that qualified via the playoff. They finished third in Group D, four points behind winners Germany and three points behind runners-up Poland.
Still, the Irish played tight defensively during the qualifying stages, allowing a group-low seven goals in 10 matches. Furthermore, Ireland scored a 1-0 win over Germany on home soil and managed a 1-1 tie with the group winners in Gelsenkirchen. So you can’t count Ireland out against anyone.
Somehow, some way, 35-year-old striker Robbie Keane is still producing at a high level. The former Tottenham goalscorer bagged five goals for the Irish during qualifying.
Ireland has the longest odds in this group but this is a side that will be heavily supported in France and could score an upset or two.
Odds as of June 9 at Bodog
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