So with Italy and Sweden playing last night and the result meaning the Italians sit comfortably at the top of Group E with 6 points, both of these teams will see this as a must win game. Sweden now have 1 point from 2 games and both of these teams will be thinking if they can pick up a win here, it sets them up brilliantly to qualify from the group into the knockout phase.
Belgium were very out of sorts against Italy. Lukaku was quiet and they just couldn't get their danger men on the ball! Hazard, De Bruyne and Mertens should be able to easily tear teams apart, however as I predicted in the Group Stage betting, Italy held firm and managed to keep an impressive clean sheet. A lot of people fancied Belgium to be there or there about's at the end of this competition but I just felt that they always seem to lack that world class cutting edge and also experience of big matches. Italy will win the group as predicted but I still think Belgium should finish 2nd, obviously Republic of Ireland are going to try and throw a spanner in the works.
Speaking of the Republic, they will have also been disappointed with the result of their first game. They outplayed Sweden but only managed to take a point because of a Ciaran Clark own goal. I marked Group E as the group of death before the tournament and I stand by that prediction. Sweden were Irelands easiest opponents and they failed to beat them. Belgium will be an entirely different prospect and they will have to hope Italy take their foot off the gas in their final game if they're to get anything from that. Regardless, if Belgium play as they did against Italy, Martin O'Neill will be rubbing his hands together.
The Republic can get a result here, but if a different Belgium turn up then they could be hanging on at these Championships by a thread.
Now this is a controversial choice but I will try and explain why I've gone this way. Belgium have world class players but the togetherness just isn't there, and they don't link up very well at all. Add to that misfiring strikers in Benteke and Lukaku and you can see glaring weaknesses in this team. Ireland on the other hand have a very close knit squad and a hard taskmaster in Roy Keane who won't allow anything less than 100% commitment from his players. Look I'm not saying Belgium can't win and if anyone does win it probably will be them. I just think they'll falter again and Ireland will take advantage.
This is an outside punt remember! Now I know Robbie Keane hasn't been starting for Ireland recently but he's their all-time top goal scorer for crying out loud. Who else can see him coming off the bench and scoring a late winner? He's only done it 5 million times before.
We haven't had a high scoring tournament thus far and I don't expect that to change too much in this game however, if Belgium do suddenly realise they're a great team on paper and turn on the style they could beat the Republic. I can't see that happening out of the blue though and I reckon Ireland will score first and Belgium will throw the kitchen sink at them resulting in an equaliser and nothing more.
I fancy Ireland to take the lead but they will inevitably sit back and try and protect that lead, then near the end of the game Belgium will go all out for a goal because it would effectively end their tournament and will score an equaliser. That obviously might not happen but I've not been wrong much this tournament!
This guy has pace to burn and can be unplayable at times. He's shown that for both Southampton and the Republic this season. If he turns up and wants to play, he will be a real handful for the Belgian defence and could definitely bag a goal. Worth a couple of quid in my view.
This guy is a world class player without a doubt. He has showed it time and time again for Manchester City this season and he loves to score goals. His shooting is impeccable and he could certainly score a worldy in this game. De Bruyne to score anytime is a nice way to potentially win back your stake for the riskier bets.