By Jake Foxford (Belgium), Michael Oddie (Sweden), Joe Proctor (Republic of Ireland) & Oliver Marsh (Italy)

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Belgium (Jake Foxford)

How I will watch it

The Watford FC training grounds. When this is published I will still be in the field at the Ultimate Frisbee World Championships, but I have been promised that in the clubhouse there will be a projector keeping the volunteers abreast of the matches, so Wednesday, 8pm, that’s where you’ll find me. There has still been no sign of the Belgium shirt, so I can only hope that the team make it out of the group stages and it arrives while I am away, lest my purchase be for nothing.

Last time out

(Belgium have not yet played their second group game against a feisty Irish side, so this recap comes to you through the power of foresight. Any inaccuracies in this report cannot be accounted for)

What a thriller! The most exciting match of the tournament so far without question! Who would’ve predicted such an end-to-end blockbuster! Finally, some fearless football in these tense group stages resulted in a game for the fans. Hazard’s salmon-esque leap for a cracking 7ft high header to open proceedings was the signal for these teams to get the gloves off, and the Irish were pressing from the moment the Belgians led. Save after save at both ends took its toll on the keepers, with both teams having to substitute their man between the posts at the half. With this final fixture against a Swedish team desperate not to be sent home at the first cut, a healthy Thibaut Courtois will be required. Whether he recovers from that crotch-first slip into the studs of Mousa Dembélé remains to be seen.

As I feared after their first game, Irish No. 13 Hendrick proved to be too much for the No.2 defence in the world and his bicycle kick from the edge of the box proved to be the undoing of an otherwise strong back line. If only someone hadn’t buttered Mignolets gloves he might have made the stop, but alas, it’s just one point for the men in red. This means Italy go through, but there’s still second place to play for in Group E, and a place against a Hungarian side who are on two wins in two and a goal difference of +11. Who would have thought it?

Prediction: Sweden 0 – 1 Belgium

Lukaku may have played well last game - who knows?

Lukaku may have played well last game – who knows?

All joking aside, if Belgium lost or drew their match against Ireland then this is going to be a very tense affair, with the winner of this coming game MAYBE getting through in third. If that’s the case expect a defensive Belgian side with a lot of caps between them. Christian Benteke may make an appearance if a tired and tested Lukaku fails to produce again.

If they won and chalked up three points, I’d say the opposite will be seen in Bordeaux this evening. If he’s not gotten on yet, expect a substitute appearance from Batshuayi and any other members of the 23-man squad yet to get pitch time, as they’ll likely take second place in the group with a draw and will want to see what everyone is capable of ahead of the knockout stages.

They will of course be wary of Ibrahimovic, in particular if their defensive woes have not been resolved, so keep an eye on that yellow streak and man bun running towards goal.

Honestly, I’d be stunned if they finished last in this ‘group of death’ (For the surprise group of death this tournament, please refer to Group C #UlsterAllTheWay), but getting sent home for an apathetic third place finish is a perilous position to be in. Come on lads, give us something to cheer about.

Final group standings:

  1. Italy
  2. Belgium
  3. Ireland
  4. Sweden

Sweden (Michael Oddie)

Olsson impressed again in the match against Italy

Olsson impressed again in the match against Italy

Last time out

Sweden shocked me with their last performance against Italy. Although they lost they dominated the first half and only lost by conceding in the 87th minute against an Italy side who looked like an absolutely quality side against Belgium. In particular Olsson impressed again with some great deliveries into the box to start a few serious chances for Sweden. Granqvist also impressed both defensively and offensively and was a big reason why Sweden didn’t concede for the first 87 minutes. Kallstrom and Ekdal showed good promise in the middle again. Guidetti made a couple of good runs and key passes but overall had a pretty poor performance he was replaced by Berg in the 84th minute by Berg who again proceeded to do absolutely nothing. Larsson also had an awful game and was easily the worst player on the pitch giving the ball away every time he attempted a pass longer than 10ft.

Tonight’s game

Despite a couple of bad performances Sweden still looked significantly better than they did against Ireland and I expect them to be a decent competition against Belgium. Belgium only need a draw to guarantee qualification whereas Sweden need a win to have any chance so I expect Sweden to play slightly more direct football tonight and maybe Zlatan to wake up and put in a decent performance. Everyone has been waiting for him to pull something special out of the bag and score a 40-yard overhead kick but so far he just hasn’t been himself. You could say that he’s used to better delivery and he’s got two defenders man marking him at any given time but the ability to thrive under that pressure is what separates a great player and a world class player.

How I will watch it

I’ll be attempting to watch both games at once one on my laptop and one on the TV in the front room with my Dad. No betting for me this time!

Prediction: Sweden 1 – 2 Belgium

From what we’ve seen so far neither of these two teams have been what we though they would be. Belgium’s performance against Italy wasn’t up to scratch and neither was Sweden’s against Ireland but both improved on their previous performances in the last round. I expect Belgium to win but I don’t think Sweden will go down without a fight. It should be a good match

Final group standings:

  1. Italy
  2. Belgium
  3. Ireland
  4. Sweden

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Republic of Ireland (Joe Proctor)

Last time out

Shane Long receives simultaneous karate kicks from Alderweireld and Vermaelen

Shane Long receives simultaneous karate kicks from Alderweireld and Vermaelen

Things didn’t exactly go to plan against Belgium. A goalless first half gave us hope of scraping a draw or even an unlikely victory. In fact that scenario looked on the cards when Shane Long received simultaneous karate kicks from Toby Alderweireld and Thomas Vermaelen in the Belgium penalty area, yet the penalty appeals were somehow ignored and Belgium went down the other end and scored through Romelu Lukaku. Belgium added a couple more on the counter to claim a 3-0 win and leave Ireland on the brink of elimination.

How I will watch it

I will be watching this in a bar in central London, hoping that the Irish manage to do something they have not done since 1978, win in a European Championships.

Prediction: Italy 0 – 1 Republic of Ireland

This has been a fairly disappointing tournament for me, England’s results have been average and my other sweepstake side, Ukraine, are the only side not to pick up a single point. However I’m backing the Green Army to give me a boost and get the victory they need here. Italy have already topped the group and will be resting players for their clash with Spain, the pitch is apparently a bit of a state and there is a chance the mighty Jonathan Walters will be back for this one.  All signs point to a narrow win for the Irish.

Final group standings:

  1. Italy
  2. Belgium
  3. Ireland
  4. Sweden

Italy (Oliver Marsh)

Last time out

Just like Ranieri did at Leicester, Conte keeps denying Italy's chances at Euro 2016...

Just like Ranieri did at Leicester, Conte keeps denying Italy’s chances at Euro 2016…

I could see this game playing out of the corner of my eye in the pub outside my office, cursed 2pm kick-offs… Another win for Italy though, and in the tournament of late goals it seems that Italy will be celebrating a few. They look certain to top the Group of Death, not a bad way to start their Euro 2016. I recall Claudio Ranieri not admitting that Leicester City were title contenders until right at the end of their triumphant Premier League campaign… I wonder at what point the national team’s Head Coach Antonio Conte will be admitting that his ‘underdogs’ are very much a team to consider at this tournament?

How I will watch it

Liz and I will be coming out of the Iceland vs Austria game at the Stade de France about an hour before this one kicks off, so hopefully we’ll get back to the centre of Paris in time. The 8pm kick-off gives me a bit of time to find a bar to watch this game though, so I’ll most likely check it out somewhere in the Bastille where I’m staying. It’s been great to be in and amongst it all in the host country during a major tournament, so I’m very much up for catching one last Euro 2016 game in France before heading back home to London tomorrow.

Prediction: Italy 1 – 0 Republic of Ireland

I can’t see this being a very exciting game, with Italy just looking to see out the Group Stages and secure top spot. I hope that Republic of Ireland show some fight, they had rotten luck in getting drawn in this Group of Death, but their journey is soon to be over. Italy’s on the other hand is just beginning.

Final group standings:

  1. Italy
  2. Belgium
  3. Sweden
  4. Ireland