Group E contains Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland and Italy and is being referred to as the ‘Group of Death’. The Belgians are highly ranked in the FIFA standings, as they were for the last World Cup; however, they struggled there as it was shown again that lots of good players do not necessarily make for a good team. That theory will certainly be put to the test in Group E, with three tough matches. In contrast, the Italians will have a good team, although not necessarily players with the same star quality of Belgium. Whilst speaking of star quality, Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden is arguably the biggest star in Group E (and the tournament) and the Swedish plan is going to be set to getting the best out of him. If they achieve this and Ibrahimovic plays well, Sweden will be very competitive, but if not, they could struggle. The Republic of Ireland are likely to give all three a good game (they took four points off Germany in qualifying), but whether this will be enough in a tough group is difficult to gauge.
Predicted final table:
4. Republic of Ireland