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SBI Euro 2016 Preview: Group E


Many see Group E as one of the most difficult groups at Euro 2016.

Belgium, Italy, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland will all be fighting for the two automatic qualification spots into the knockout round.

Luckily for the the powerhouses in Group E, the expansion of the tournament to 24 teams provides four third-place sides with an opportunity to move on to the final 16. Given the stature of the squads in Group E, one of those slots should be filled by a team from this group.

Group E also contains plenty of star power. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Eden Hazard, Robbie Keane and Gianluigi Buffon are just a few of the big names who will compete for their respective nations.

Here’s a closer look at all four teams in Group E:

Group E

Schedule (Times Eastern)

June 13– Republic of Ireland vs. Sweden (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3), 12 p.m.

June 13-Belgium vs. Italy (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3), 3 p.m.

June 17– Italy vs. Sweden (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3), 9 a.m.

June 18– Republic of Ireland vs. Belgium (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3), 9 a.m.

June 22– Sweden vs. Belgium (ESPN/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3), 3 p.m.

June 22– Republic of Ireland vs. Italy (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes/ESPN3), 3 p.m.



PLAYERS TO WATCH: Eden Hazard, Christian Benteke, Thibaut Courtois, Marouane Fellaini, Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku

NAME TO LEARN: Yannick Carrasco. The 22-year-old Atletico Madrid player might have a hard time working his way onto the field due to the immense attacking talent in the squad, but he proved in the UEFA Champions League Final that he is ready for the big stage.


Goalkeepers: Thibaut Courtois (Chelsea), Simon Mignolet (Liverpool), Jean-Francois Gillet (Mechelen)

Defenders: Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham Hotspur), Thomas Vermaelen (Barcelona), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Jason Denayer (Galatasaray), Thomas Meunier (Club Brugge), Christian Kabasele (Genk), Jordan Lukaku (Oostende), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact)

Midfielders: Radja Nainggolan (Roma), Axel Witsel (Zenit St. Petersburg), Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United), Mousa Dembele (Tottenham Hotspur), Eden Hazard (Chelsea),

Forwards: Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Romelu Lukaku (Everton), Yannick Carrasco (Atletico Madrid), Dries Mertens (Napoli), Divock Origi (Liverpool), Christian Benteke (Liverpool), Michy Batshuayi (Marseille)

OUTLOOK: Expectations are high for the young collection of standout stars on the Belgium roster after making into the final eight of the 2014 World Cup. Making it to the quarterfinals in France should be the minimum goal for the Red Devils.



PLAYERS TO WATCH: Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Thiago Motta, Daniele De Rossi

NAME TO LEARN: Ciro Immobile. The biggest concern for the Azzurri entering Euro 2016 is who will score the goals. The 26-year-old Immobile, who played the last season at Torino, is one of five forwards on the roster with less than 20 international appearances.


Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Salvatore Sirigu (Paris Saint Germain), Federico Marchetti (Lazio)

Defenders: Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan), Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Angelo Ogbonna (West Ham United), Andrea Barzagli (Juventus), Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)

Midfielders: Antonio Candreva (Lazio), Alessandro Florenzi (Roma), Thiago Motta (Paris Saint Germain), Stefano Sturaro (Juventus), Daniele De Rossi (Roma), Marco Parolo (Lazio), Federico Bernardeschi (Fiorentina), Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan), Emanuele Giaccherini (Bologna)

Forwards: Simone Zaza (Juventus), Graziano Pelle (Southampton), Ciro Immobile (Torino), Eder (Inter Milan), Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)

Outlook: Italy will go as far as their forwards take them. The back line is battle tested and shouldn’t have many issues dealing with talented opposition in France, but there are plenty of questions surrounding a strike force that has 11 combined international goals.



PLAYERS TO WATCH: Robbie Keane, Shane Long, James McCarthy, John O’Shea

NAME TO LEARN: Robbie Brady. The 24-year-old Norwich City defender has the potential to be a difference maker for the Republic of Ireland. Brady is a skillful free kick taker and he shows no fear surging forward on the flanks to provide extra support for the attack.


Goalkeepers: Keiren Westwood (Sheffield Wednesday), Shay Given (Stoke City), Darren Randolph (West Ham United)

Defenders: Seamus Coleman (Everton), Ciaran Clark (Aston Villa), John O’Shea (Sunderland), Richard Keogh (Derby County), Shane Duffy (Blackburn Rovers), Cyrus Christie (Derby County), Stephen Ward (Burnley), Robbie Brady (Norwich City)

Midfielders: Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Aidan McGeady (Everton), James McCarthy (Everton), James McClean (West Bromwich Albion), Jeff Hendrick (Derby County), David Meyler (Hull City), Wes Hoolahan (Norwich City), Stephen Quinn (Reading)

Forwards: Shane Long (Southampton), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Jonathan Walters (Stoke City), Daryl Murphy (Ipswich Town)

OUTLOOK: The Boys in Green enter Euro 2016 as one of the biggest underdogs. Getting out of Group E would be considered a success for Martin O’Neill’s side.



PLAYERS TO WATCH: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kim Kallstrom, Martin Olsson, Andreas Isaksson

NAME TO LEARN: Emil Forsberg. Forsberg has the potential to be one of the breakout stars of the tournament. The Red Bull Leipzig player contains plenty of playmaking capabilities and he could help take some attention away from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.


Goalkeepers: Andreas Isaksson (Kasimpasa), Robin Olsen (Copenhagen), Patrik Carlgren (AIK)

Defenders: Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Erik Johansson (Copenhagen), Andreas Granqvist (Krasnodar), Martin Olsson (Norwich City), Pontus Jansson (Torino), Victor Lindelof (Benfica), Ludwig Augustinsson (Copenhagen)

Midfielders: Emil Forsberg (Red Bull Leipzig), Sebastian Larsson (Sunderland), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Kim Kallstrom (Grasshopper), Oscar Hiljemark (Palermo), Pontus Wernbloom (CSKA Moscow), Oscar Lewicki (Malmo), Jimmy Durmaz (Olympiakos), Erkan Zengin (Trabzonspor)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris Saint Germain), Marcus Berg (Panathinaikos), Emir Kujovic (IFK Norrkoping), John Guidetti (Celta Vigo)

Outlook: Euro 2016 presents Sweden with a chance to redeem themselves from their failures in past major competitions. Erik Hamren’s men have missed the last two World Cups and did not make it out of the group stage at Euro 2012. In order to do that, Sweden must receive major contributions from the players in the squad not named Ibrahimovic.

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