Euro 2016 advances into its fourth day, with action in Group D and E on the menu: Spain beginning its title defense against the Czech Republic, Belgium facing Italy in an intriguing clash, and Ireland playing against Sweden.
Spain vs Czech Republic: Spain have changed since they last won the Euro in 2012, marking a golden age of two European championships and one World Cup. No longer the villain for playing boring possession football, Spain rely on players like Nolito and Alvaro Morata to bring an edge to all their possession, with Andres Iniesta giving them the support from behind. For the Czechs, it’s going to be a match that goes against their style: This side is still built around Tomas Rosicky, but they’ll have to play counter attacking football in order to succeed against Spain.
Ireland vs Sweden: Both sides feature aging strikers, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robbie Keane. But while Sweden do everything for and around Ibrahimovic, Shane Long is probably the more important man for Ireland, heading into the tournament with plenty of momentum, and his power running style, assuming Wes Hoolahan manages a few dangerous through balls for Long, could be very problematic for Sweden, who like Ireland, have quite a few problems in the back.
Belgium vs Italy: It’s probably been a very long time since Belgium were favored to win against a side like Italy, but the continuing decline in Italy’s creativity has led us to this. The Italians will look to exploit Belgium’s weakness defending the wings, which will give us both sides placing usually central players in wider positions. Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne will be the driving force in Belgium’s attack, while Italy are counting on Graziano Pelle to provide quality finishing up front.