Friday, 17 June 2016

Belgium vs Republic of Ireland Euro 2016 Football Match Preview And Prediction - June 18, 2016

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Republic of Ireland v Belgium opposition analysis: All you need to know ahead of Euro 2016 Group E match at Nouveaux Stade de Bordeaux

It’s a bountiful summer for soccer fans, with the boys in green off doing us proud in France.

It’s hardly their fault they’ve been dealt a so-called ‘group of death’, featuring not only the formidable Italy, but also an extremely strong Belgian side.

Belgium will be our second opponent, and we’ll be facing them on June 18, at the Nouveaux Stade de Bordeaux.

Who are they?

You know Belgium, it’s… Belgium.

Brussels, Bruges, all those ‘B’ places.

It’s where the EU is based and it gets a bit of a bad rap for being a bit dull.

Just because it’s the bureaucratic hub of the European Union?

Unfair. It’s also home to some really amazing beer, Tintin, chocolate and (can’t emphasize this enough) some really amazing beer.

The Belgians also have a long tradition of playing soccer – dating back to 1863 when some Irishman wandered into a university with a football.

So if we lose, we’ve only ourselves to blame.

Recent form

In short: FIFA’s 2015 Team of the Year, currently second to Argentina.

Longer answer: There are those who say this is a new golden age for Belgian football, after they made the quarter-finals of World Cup 2014 and finished top of their group for Euro 2016.

It’s fair to say they’re going to be a bit of a challenge, as they come into this tournament with considerable confidence.

They’ll be playing Italy first, so with a bit of luck that’ll knock a bit of the swagger out of them.

History with Ireland

It’s been almost 20 years since we’ve played the Belgians, the last time being when they prevented us getting to World Cup 1998.

It wasn’t all bad though, as FIFA gave Irish supporters the 1997 Fair Play Award.

Why? “For their exemplary behaviour at Ireland team matches, especially the FIFA World Cup qualifying play-offs against Belgium.

"That makes it all alright, then, doesn’t it?

Red Devil meet Boy in Green – what could possibly go wrong?

We’ve faced off with Belgium a total of 14 times since 1928 and, as with Sweden, our four victories came in friendlies.

In fairness, we’ve drawn with them in all but two competitive matches, so there’s plenty of room in there for hope.

Can we take them?

Maybe. There’s always a chance, and while they are on something of a streak right now – streaks end.

We have a history of draws with Belgium, and if we can manage that here we’ll be doing very well indeed.

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