Euro 2016: Our guide to Ireland’s group

The long wait is over! This weekend, Euro 2016 kicks off. SEAMUS COLLINS, who recently spent a period on work experience at the Roscommon People, looks at Group E and the Republic of Ireland’s prospects…


Group odds: 1/12 to qualify from group

Manager: Marc Wilmots

Key men: Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne

Previous best: Euro 1980, runners-up

Qualifying: Topped Group B with 23 points

Belgium have become a feared international side in recent years soaring up the world rankings under ex-player Marc Wilmots. Many of their young stars such as Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard grace the Premier League. However, they will be without influential captain Vincent Kompany through injury.


Group odds: 1/8 to qualify from group

Manager: Antonio Conte

Key men: Antonio Candreva, Graziano Pelle

Previous best: Winners in 1968

Qualifying: Topped Group H with 24 points

The quality of the Italian team has declined since their run to the final four years ago, but Chelsea’s new boss after the Euros Antonio Conte will have his side well organised and resolute. Never underestimate the Italians.


Group odds: 4/6 to qualify from group

Manager: Erik Hamren

Key man: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Previous best: Semi-final in 1992

Qualifying: Third in Group G, beat Denmark in play-off

Sweden’s route to France was quite similar to Ireland’s. They finished two points behind Russia in their group and narrowly beat Denmark in the play-off. An average, hard-working side, talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic brings genuine brilliance to the team.

Republic of Ireland

Group odds: 11/10 to qualify from group

Manager: Martin O’Neill

Key men: Jon Walters, Shane Long

Previous best: Group Stages in 1988 and 2012

Qualifying: Ireland finished behind Germany and Poland in Group C and pipped Scotland to a play-off spot. Convincingly saw off Bosnia in the play-offs.