Group EThe European Championships have finally started¬†and we continue¬†our series of previews, spotlighting¬†Group E, may pundits’ group of death.¬†This group has Belgium, Sweden, the Republic of Ireland, and Italy. Listen to the report by clicking below, while explanations of key vocabulary (in bold) can be found at the bottom of the post.

Euro 2016 Preview РGroup E

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Belgium

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Top ranked in Europe[/perfectpullquote] The¬†Red Devils are a side packed with talent – de¬†Bruyne, Courtois, Hazard, Lukaku – and¬†if all¬†fire on all cylinders, Belgium will go a long way in the tournament. They are strong in all areas, and the only doubt is whether they can play as a team, rather than a collection of individual stars. In the 2014 World Cup, they reached the quarter finals, but this was seen as a disappointment. Their coach, Marc Wilmots, will be hoping to improve on that¬†last eight finish.

Italy

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Tournement team[/perfectpullquote] The Italian side have a proud tradition of performing well in the big tournaments. Form goes out the window when the Azzurri compete, and they are always well organised. They go in to this competition arguably light up top, but with a strong defence featuring Buffon between the sticks, and in front of him, Bonnuci,¬†Barzagli and¬†Chiellini – all from Juventus. This solid platform should¬†make them difficult to break down. The coach, Conte, will also¬†want to end his tenure on a high.

Republic of Ireland

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]Underdogs[/perfectpullquote]. Few expect Ireland to get out of this group, but with group E likely to be tight, the Boys in Green will be hoping hey can pull off one top result and bag three points from somewhere. A result like the 1-0 defeat of Germany in qualifying, which saw them secure the third qualifying place. They will hope to avoid the embarrassment of the last Euros, which saw them concede nine goals in three games and only find the net once. In Martin O’Neill they have an experienced coach, but he may struggle to keep them in with a shout.

Sweden

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”#16989D” class=”” size=”24″]A one man side?[/perfectpullquote]All eyes with be on Zlatan Ibrahimovich, Sweden’s star player, who will most likely be playing in his last major international tournament. Without the¬†34-year old, Sweden look a bit pedestrian, and¬†Sweden’s opponents will be keen to mark him out of the game.¬†Kim Kallstrom, playing at Grasshoper, is another¬†experienced player that Sweden will hope can¬†shield the back four – the¬†defence itself looks reliable – and start attacking moves. Sweden may progress under the radar and once in the¬†knockout stages, who knows?

Prediction

A lot will hinge on the Sweden v Republic of Ireland game. A win for either would mean the loser facing an uphill battle to qualify. Expect to see Belgium and Italy come one two and Sweden to pip Ireland to the third spot.

Let us know which countries you think will qualify by posting a comment below. You can also play in our Euro 2016 predictions competition – click here for more information

Vocabulary

packed with: Full of

fire on all cylinders : Perform strongly; play as well as they can

form goes out the window: Previous results are not relevant; you can ignore recent results 

light up top: With a weak attack; with few star forwards

between the sticks: In goal; between the posts

bag three points: Win three points; get three points

be in with a shout: have a chance

pedestrian: ordinary; slow

under the radar: quietly; without fanfare; not making a fuss; unnoticed

If you want to know more about a particular area of football language leave a comment below. You can also subscribe here to receive our selection of football clichés and of course you can check out our huge list of football vocabulary here.
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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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