The highest ranking European team in Fifa’s World Rankings are struggling. A 0-2 defeat to Italy in their opening game of Euro 2016 is not what was expected and now they have a mountain to climb to get out of their group. Belgium and their so called golden generation were quarter finalists in the last World Cup, a decent return especially as they lost to eventual finalists Argentina. The questions raised related to the style of football, which wasn’t easy on the eye despite a list of players at their disposal that are the envy of other international teams (Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku – you could go on and on with both attacking and defensive players). It was thought that come Euro 2016 some style would be introduced, as well as the results, unfortunately both are missing after their opening fixture. Manager Marc Wilmots, who is a tough unflinching man, is clearly not getting the best out of his superstars if their first match in this tournament is a guide. Tactically Italy (through their manager Antonio Conte) totally out thought the Belgians and despite them coming on strong later on in the match, they had some decent chances to get an equaliser at 0-1, the Italians held out and increased their lead with a late goal. Wilmots defended his team after the match but anyone watching could see they did not play like a cohesive unit and it is the job of any coach to get his players to work together and get the best out of them. They now head to Bordeaux bottom of Group E for a crucial match against the Republic of Ireland, a team who themselves need points. Defeat is unthinkable for the ‘Red Devils’ but ‘The Green Army’ will be sniffing blood. If ever Wilmots needed to get his team and tactics right its this afternoon in South West France. Predictions for todays matches as below.
Belgium 2 Republic of Ireland 2
Iceland 1 Hungary 1
Portugal 2 Austria 2
There will be daily predictions on Euro 2016 as well as comment when I get the opportunity throughout the tournament- enjoy – let me know your thoughts.
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