Betting: Republic of Ireland to hold underwhelming Belgium

 
Ben Cleminson
FBL-EURO-2016-MATCH9-IRL-SWE
Hoolahan scored Ireland's goal in their 1-1 draw with Sweden (Source: Getty)

Belgium entered the European Championships as the highest ranked team in Europe according to FIFA, but have so far failed to live up to the billing.

In Monday’s 2-0 defeat to Italy they lacked ideas and, following a limp exit to Argentina at the last World Cup, there is a genuine worry that the country’s golden generation is going to waste.

Player for player there may not be a stronger squad in France this summer. The undoubted quality of Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard is not in question.

But for all the individual talent, there is a sense the team is less threatening than the sum of its parts.

The opposite could be said of the Republic of Ireland, who came through a tough group to qualify and can consider themselves a little unlucky to walk away from the opening match against Sweden with just a point.

The criticism in 2012 when they lost all three group games was that the team lacked quality and was too negative. This time out Ireland are not simply a well-organised outfit.

They also pose more of a threat across the pitch with the likes of Shane Long, Seamus Coleman and Wes Hoolahan, who scored against Sweden.

Despite conceding an equaliser in that game, Martin O’Neil’s side will have been buoyed by the performance and will believe they can get something against their opponents on Saturday.

With Belgium desperate to fulfil their potential and progress in the tournament it could be cagey.

I like the 13/5 Betway is offering on the draw – a result which would take the group to the final game.

Goals may also be at a premium if Belgium’s array of attacking talents struggle to make inroads again, as they did against an organised Italian defence in Lyon.

Lukaku and Divock Origi were particularly wasteful, and even the combined talents of De Bruyne and Hazard failed to find a way through.

Ireland, meanwhile, conceded just seven goals in 10 group games in qualifying – fewer than world champions Germany.

With both teams knowing a defeat could prove a fatal blow to their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages, I expect it be a low-scoring game.

You can sell total goals at 2.45 on Sporting Index, which I would suggest doing.

Pointers

Draw 13/5 (Betway)

No goal scored before 60th minute 14/5 (Betway)

Sell total goals 2.45 (Sporting Index)