Euro 2016: The guide to the group betting – Group E
The 2016 European Championships are within touching distance now, and with domestic football all but over for another year, it’s time to get studying to find the best bets for France this summer.
This year’s expanded format sees 24 teams instead of 16 take part, meaning there will be more opportunities to explore than ever before.
All in all it’s shaping up to be a thrilling tournament, but with six groups to contend with, we’ve laid out some handy group guides for this summer’s continental classic.
So here’s what you need to know about Group E, where you’ll find Mr Ibrahimovic and the Boys in Green…
With heaps of squad depth and some out-and-out world class players, there’s every justification in Belgium’s hotly-tipped vibe ahead of the tournament.
Kevin de Bruyne has been stunning for Manchester City this season, while you’ve got to believe Eden Hazard will resume his former self in France as opposed to this season’s imposter, and then there’s Romelu Lukaku up front and stopper Thibaut Courtois.
With every opponent in the group posing a solid but beatable challenge, Marc Wilmot’s men have the perfect chance to see where they’re at right from the off and build up some steam ahead of the knockouts, which they should reach with some comfort.
Always organised and resolute, but this year’s Italian squad pales in comparison to their finest years and a group exit can’t be ruled out.
Antonio Conte’s looming departure to Chelsea also throws another spanner in the works, and though they finished runners-up in 2012, Gli Azzurri didn’t impress in Brazil two years ago.
A lacklustre attack saw Italy score more than twice only three times in qualifying, as they did what was required and little else versus the likes of Norway and Azerbaijan. A team for under 2.5 backers.
Republic of Ireland
On paper this is a fiendish group for Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s charges, but having beaten Germany in the Autumn, the Boys in Green have no-one to fear.
What’s more, Italy and Sweden are very much beatable opposition, and striker Shane Long has excelled for club and country in the past 12 months.
There’s experience at the back, and dead-ball talents in Aiden McGeady and Robbie Brady, and this is a vastly happier and more united team from the one which failed to shine four years ago under Giovanni Trapattoni.
Like Italy, Sweden have seen better days, but in Zlatan Ibrahimovic they hold a massive trump card.
The Swedes failed to win any of their four games versus Russia or Austria in qualifying, and before their final warm-up with Wales, have won just one of their last six fixtures.
As good as Zlatan is, the rest of the squad just aren’t of the same standard, and it’s worth noting that Erik Hamren’s side kept just four clean sheets in qualification – versus minnows Moldova and Liechtenstein.
Top Theme: One-goal margin wins
Best Bets: Belgium to top the group at evens is sure to prove popular, and their outright odds will tumble if they win three from three.
Behind them there’s little to split the other three sides, and Ireland have every chance of qualifying at 5/4.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.