BELGIUM are ranked Europe’s best team and it’s time they lived up to the billing.
Marc Wilmots’s side were desperately disappointing as they crashed 2-0 to Italy but historically are slow starters.
When they reached the 1980 final and 1986 World Cup semis they failed to win their opening game and that’s the only positive for Wilmots.
There are problems with his squad no doubt as he tries to gel a host of individuals into a team capable of challenging for top honours.
Ireland were happier with their display in Paris but frustrated by the result. They denied Zlatan Ibrahmovic and co a shot on target but Ciaran Clark’s own goal handed Sweden an undeserved point.
Martin O’Neill will be concerned his side played well and didn’t win especially as they’re up against what’s supposed to be a much better side.
You have to expect the Belgians to be much improved but will they answer their critics with the type of display that’s taken them to No.2 in the world behind Argentina.
If you fancy the Irish not to lose you’ll get decent odds of 6-5 at Coral – and it’s been the kind of tournament where almost anyone can beat anyone.
O’Neill’s men posed enough of a threat to suggest they could score so look at over 2.5 goals at 21-20 with 888sport.
Everton hitman Romelu Lukaku missed a few chances against Italy and is 31-20 to bounce back with a goal – assuming he keeps his place with Christian Benteke and Divock Origi waiting on the sidelines – while skipper Eden Hazard is 5-2 at Betfred to hit the target.
Marouane Fellaini could be worth a look especially with the threat he poses from corners. Belgian play with plenty of width and there should be deadball chances for the Man United man to feast upon. We know about Fellaini’s strength in the air and he is 9-2 at Betfred to score.
Shane Long will again lead the target for the Irish and is 18-5 to score but the man who posed the biggest danger against Sweden was Jeff Hendrick. He had a couple of shots at goal including a cracker that smacked off the bar and is 9-1 at Betfred to grab his second of the tournament.
There could be few bookings and I fear for Irish midfielder James McCarthy. He was cautioned in the opener and had a poor disciplinary record at Everton this season.
The combative Glasgow-born star is 5-2 at Unibet to be booked again and miss the final match with Italy.
Bets to Consider
Belgium & Btts
Over 2.5 goals
McCarthy to be booked