Belgium vs Republic of Ireland
Venue: Matmut Atlantique
Time: 6:30 P.M. IST
Before coming into this tournament all the talk had been about how Belgium could make it big this time round and surprise a few of the generally ‘fancied’ nations. Now, with respect to FIFA rankings(Belgium are no.2), you wouldn’t rate Belgium as underdogs. but the fact that they have earned their ranking in the last 2 years and don’t have any history of making it big at World events, did we still see them under ‘surprise package’ category.
Also read: Belgium vs Sweden- 5 Key Player Battles
But Italy burst that bubble in the first round of fixtures, when Belgium just couldn’t find any answers to the stout defensive display by the Azzuri. And with that loss, the title talks turned into silent whispers and only a commanding win against Republic of Ireland can resurrect those strong voices.
Republic of Ireland played a gritty first fixture against Sweden, not allowing them to attack in any possible way and earning a hard fought draw in the end. Martin O Neill will have to be at his tactical best again, in order to contain the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelo Lukaku.
Belgium on the other hand would want to put up a solid display as one more slip up and they could be knocked out in the group stage itself. They need to learn to deal with expectations as with the talent that they possess, expectations are going to stick with them wherever they go.
This is going to be another of those offence vs defence games, wher Belgium would try their best to beat the compact and gritty Irish defence.
Predicted Belgium XI– Courois; Ciman, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Vermaelen; Witsel, Nainggolan; De Bruyne, Fellaini, Hazard; Lukaku
Predicted Republic of Ireland XI- Randolph; Coleman, O’Shea, Clark, Brady; Whelan, McCarthy, Hendrick Walters, Long