By Jake Foxford (Belgium) & Joe Proctor (Ireland)

Belgium (Jake Foxford)

Get in the changing room and pick up an orange slice, we’ve got a lot to talk about boys.

Last match recap

I said before that Belgium were notorious for being worse together than alone, and every other pundit and commentator has made the same observation: they’re playing like a team of individuals. That’s why they didn’t break through an organised defence. They’re not communicating or being lead with any specificity; that’s why those two goals were conceded. Regardless of how well Italy played, Belgium were uncreative and uncoordinated.

Buckle up, I’ve got some ideas.

  1. The first touches of anyone facing goal were weak. Lukaku and Origi dithered in possession and despite being tall and physical did not dominate in the air. I wanted to see him take the field on Monday but this time the manager Wilmot has got to lead the 4-2-3-1 formation with Michy Batshuayi at the point. Teams are more than prepared for the squad’s Premier League forwards and the variety he will bring to the attack cannot be any worse than the dismal showing against the Italians.
  2. 26F36B6500000578-3009426-image-m-7_1427205516260

    It only makes sense to play Vertonghen and Alderweireld at centre back together

    Get Vertoghen out of left back and into the centre alongside Alderweireld, as they do for Tottenham (and previously for Ajax). That last-minute Pellé goal would have been much harder to score through Big Man Jan. He’s more use played in position and the loss of a committed left back due to injury should be compensated for by Hazard playing deeper if necessary. He has not got the attacking finesse he has had in the past and will be more useful stopping runs than making them.

  3. The second half substitution of Mertens on for Nainggolan was much more positive for the defensive midfield, so start with Mertens. He is match-fit and ready to make an impact from the first whistle, not just as a sub.

If any two of these came into effect I can see Belgium really making a different game of it but it is going to require a lot more cohesion than we have seen so far. Of the 18 shots the Red Devils registered in their opener, half were blocked – there has got to be a more deft touch and a more patient mentality, striking when there are opportunities, not when they’ve run out of options.

How I will watch it

Catching frisbees during my time at Aberystwyth University

Catching frisbees during my time at Aberystwyth University

This time I’m away enjoying the sights of Watford F.C. training ground as I and 150 other volunteers prepare to help with the World Ultimate Frisbee Championships (no, really, honest), so it’s going to be a case of phone in lap, checking the live commentary as it rolls in.

Prediction: Belgium 1 – 1 Ireland

The boys in red put in a very mixed performance so any and every one of them could be worth watching for class or calamity, but keep an eye on Ireland’s Hendrick. Hoolahan may have snatched the goal in their first game but the quality and consistency of the shots coming from the No. 13 were fearsome. Keep him out of the box and away from the ball because he is just inches from scoring the goal of the tournament so far.

The Irish could easily have scored four, even five goals in their game, and I don’t imagine a draw has done anything to extinguish their fire, so this next game is going to be just as hard. Belgium could score, the capability is in the team, but whether they’ve dealt with the issues from Lyon will remain to be seen.

Ireland (Joe Proctor)

Last match recap

Wes Hoolahan celebrates his opener against Sweden

Wes Hoolahan celebrates his opener against Sweden

A decent performance against Sweden was spoilt slightly by the late Ciaran Clark own goal. However despite dropping two points there were plenty of positives, chief among them a sumptuous strike from the evergreen Wes Hoolahan. With my other sweepstake team Ukraine on the brink of elimination following defeat to the other Ireland, the Republic are my last hope.

How I will watch it

'Welcome to Cornwall'

‘Welcome to Cornwall’

I probably won’t be watching this one unfortunately; I’ll no doubt be stuck in traffic of the A30 towards Cornwall. If by some miracle we do make it for the 14:00 kick-off I’ll try to persuade everyone that instead of going to the beach we should find a nice traditional pub and watch the boys in green canter to victory against Belgium.

Prediction: Belgium 2 – 0 Ireland

I probably won’t be watching this one unfortunately; I’ll no doubt be stuck in traffic of the A30 towards Cornwall. If by some miracle we do make it for the 14:00 kick-off I’ll try to persuade everyone that instead of going to the beach we should find a nice traditional pub and watch the boys in green canter to victory against Belgium.