Group E is our next stop with the mouth-watering first game between Belgium and Italy to look forward to. This game is a bit of a strange one, had it been played 10 years ago, it would've been a very strong Italy team against a sub-standard Belgium, however times have changed and many are tipping Belgium to go very far in this tournament whereas Italy are seen as a team in transition.
Belgium cruised through qualifying occupying 1st place in Group B ahead of Wales. They only lost 1 game (incidentally against Wales) and managed to score an eye-watering 24 goals while only conceding 5. That's pretty good going, however they did lose their last friendly game against Finland (who didn't qualify for Euro 2016) 1-0 and looked quite toothless in attack. They seem to have a world class player in every position and have done well in recent years, reaching the Quarter-Finals of the 2014 World Cup, however this is their time now, people are expecting a lot from a team that boasts Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku. Will they deliver? I'm not so sure.
Now to the 2010 World Champions Italy, where things do not look as rosy as they once did but they're by no means terrible either. They still have an abundance of great defenders and a fantastic goalkeeper as is always the case with the Italians. It's mainly in attack that they have struggled over the last couple of years. Their top goal scorer in qualifying was Southampton's Graziano Pelle who only mustered 3 goals in 7 appearances, that needs to improve, however they could go far just playing out 1-0's the whole time. Having said that they still managed to top Group H and finish above Croatia, so the quality is still there.
Both teams are perfectly capable of winning this game and it will be interesting to see how it goes. The pressure is definitely on Belgium because people expect them to win things now with the team they have on paper, can they handle that pressure? Only time will tell.
I really think this will end up being a draw, both teams have terrific defences and while Belgium have more in attack than Italy, that Finland game was awful and Marc Wilmots doesn't seem to know his best 11 yet and that could prove costly. Then there is the fact that Italy have players such as Buffon, Chiellini and De Rossi who have been there and done it, whereas Belgium have quite an inexperienced team.Ladbrokes £50 Free Bet
Both of these teams have a brilliant defence, and I think if Italy go 1-0 up they will definitely try and defend that lead rather than go for more goals and for that reason I think under 1.5 goals could be a fair shout.Betfair £30 Free Bet
I can't separate these two teams, I just think if Italy go ahead it will be really hard for Belgium to get back into it and if Italy do score, I can't see them scoring more than 1 goal. So I think for this opening game for both of them, they would take a draw and probably will draw, as they will definitely expect to take points off Republic of Ireland and Sweden and thus both qualify.Bet365 £200 Bonus
I can see Italy scoring early on while Belgium try and get used to the game, like I said before, a lot of these Italy players have a World Cup winners medal and will know how these games play out. That experience will be vital for Conte's men.MobilBet €50 Free Bet
Pelle was Italy's top goal scorer in qualifying and really is a handful in the air and on the ground so Belgium will need to be at their best. Without Vincent Kompany who misses the tournament through injury, Pelle could pose them a few problems.ComeOn £25 Free Bet
If I say to you Graziano Pelle, Christian Benteke, Marouane Fellaini and Romelu Lukaku what do you think? Apart from what a team - all of these are big lads who like to mix it in the air with defenders. All of these players in one match says to me, a header is very likely to be scored. That's not even counting the centre backs coming up for corners either! I really can see a header being scored and I'll be hoping that it's the first goal scored so we can take a bit of money from the bookies. If this game is 0-0 late on too, expect to see long balls from both teams to these guys.Tipbet €100 Free Bet