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Euro 2016 Group E: Player Picks

A tough group to call but can the Red Devils show their potential.

Our blog favourite is banging them in prior to the Euro's, can he keep doing so in France
Our blog favourite is banging them in prior to the Euro's, can he keep doing so in France
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Group E looks a tough one to call and one where we have more players to whom followers of the Premier League are familiar.

Belgium

Possible starting 11

Courtois

Alderweireld, Denayer, Vermaelen, Vertonghen

Nainggolan, Witsel

Carrasco, De Bruyne, Hazard

Lukaku

The Red Devils are the tournaments golden generation side even if the manager and players don't like the term.  Belgium have had some harsh criticism of the performances in the last couple years but that shows you the quality of player they hold and hold in depth.

A disappointing showing in the World Cup 2014 quarter final against Argentina saw just one effort on goal in a game including extra time.  When you have the attacking talent they have more was expected.  A big factor could be that Lukaku (22), Hazard (25) and KDB (24) they are younger than we at first think.  The trio may be at their best in 2 -4 years time but they surely will be better with 2 years and a World Cup of experience under their belts.  All three of our young stars have leant about the rough end of the business in the last season or two to balance the joys of success,

Belgium were Fifa's world number 1 team at the end of 2015 (boy do they need to address that rating system) and are favourites in Group E.   Assuming they win the group they will likely have to beat France and Germany just to get to the final, tough draw.

So much talent and so many options open to them they will be expecting to progress through the group, hopefully showing some examples of their potential in attack.

Thibaut Courtois - 6m

No1 and a brilliant talent.  In a tricky group he may be expensive but goal scoring has been an issue for all of his group rivals.

Jason Denayer - 4.5m

Seems likely to start due to injury to others and there are rumours it may be at right back.  The Manchester City central defender on loan at Galatasaray has the perfect window to impress Pep.

Eden Hazard - 9.5m

If the Euro's were last summer then Hazard may have been the first name in your squad.  Like his club Chelsea he had a disappointing season to say the least.  What he did do though was finish strong and in those final weeks of the Premier League season he looked back to his best.

Kevin De Bruyne - 10m

Nobody provided more assists in 2015 than our man De Bruyne.  KDB also has 11 goals in 34 games for his country and will likely be behind the Red Devils goals.  His price is high but as we saw in the Premier League he is a constant danger.

Radja Nainggolan - 6.5m

The value of the Belgium midfield. A box to box midfield player who has been their best player in the last year.  4 goals in 18 games at international level and 11 in 69 for Roma.  Seems a high chance he will be signing for Chelsea in the summer and as he is playing in a friendly against Norway as I write this, he seems fit to start game one.  Nicknamed "Ninja" which should help in the comments section when referring to him.

Romelu Lukaku - 9m

The fantasy troll too many, Lukaku is still just 22 and has had his best goal scoring season in an Everton side who had a shocking 2015/16.   Seems certain to move in the summer with PSG possible.

He has scored for fun the pre Euro's friendlies and has a much better supply line behind him for his country than his club.   As always with him you feel it's all or nothing but none of his group opponents will be looking forward to facing him.

Italy

Possible starting 11

Buffon

Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini

Florenzi, Parolo, De Rossi, Giaccherini/Darmian

Eder, Candreva

Pelle

This is not an Italian vintage squad and lacks the wonderful attacking match winners we have seen so often over the years.  What they do have is a defensive unit of quality even if this hasn't been as evident in qualifying.  If they do lineup as above they will field a keeper and back three that play together at Juventus.  That must be the most settled backline in the competition.

The concern is goalscoring.   The Italian side scored just 16 goal in 10 qualification games in a group that had some weak sides.  That information could mislead as Conte often changed systems and players using the qualification campaign as an experiment.

The key to their success could be their manager and new Chelsea head man Antonio Conte.  Conte is known as a manager who inspires and motivates.  His belief in the team over individuals is perfect for the weapons at their disposal.  It will be interesting to watch him at work.  They will be hard to beat and harder still if they get to the knockout rounds.

Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Matteo Darmian - 5.5m

All priced the same so take your pick.  Darmian played the most in the qualifiers and looks a much better player at international level than he has had Manchester United so far.

Antonio Candreva - 7.5m

Expected to provide the crosses and sparks to supply Pelle.  Adaptable enough to play a few different roles and a difference maker in qualification.

Graziano Pelle - 8.5m

The Southampton forward has the vote of faith over hot and cold Mario Balotelli amongst others.   Given a good supply he is a real handful on his day.  The price is high for me but he finished the season well and is the most obvious Italian golascorer.

Republic of Ireland

Possible starting 11

Randolph

Coleman, O'shea, Clark, Brady

Walters, Whelan, Hoolahan, McCarthy, Hendrick

Long

Lots of familiar names in the Irish side and while they don't at first excite you, don't underestimate them.  In qualification they beat and drew with Germany and also drew with Poland.  Only once did they concede twice in a game.

This side and their manager specialise in playing the underdog role.  They are party poopers whose fans love a party.  If you want to know how much support they will get then consider the Irish were offered 26,000 tickets to which Uefa received 275,000 applications.  The streets bars better stock up on Guinness (mmmmmm the black stuff).

Darren Randolph - 4.5m

West Ham United second choice keeper will offer you a cheap keeper for your bench.

Seamus Coleman - 5.5m

The attacking right back will use his energy levels to supplement the Irish attack.  Not in the form of a couple of years ago at club level but still a possible supply line of chances.

Shane Long - 6m

Great pick this one for me.  Long is one of those players who is often a handful and more so when facing the big sides.  Has already scored some big goals to get Ireland here and I can see him causing the group opposition defence nightmares.  The asking price of 6m is a real temptation and he certainly could be an option with your daily transfer to bring in for any forward that fails you.

Sweden

Possible starting 11

Isaksson

Lustig, Johansson, Granqvist, Olsson

Larsson, Kallstrom, Lewicki, Forsberg

Berg, Ibrahimovic

Sweden will find this a very difficult group and their over reliance on star player Zlatan won't help their chances of progress to the knockout rounds.

Their experience will be an advantage and of course they do have a world class player in Ibrahimovic.  Their defending has looked suspect in qualification, particularly from set pieces and balls into the box, something that Ireland would consider their strength.

The opening game against Ireland is key.  It's likely to be a very pro-Irish crowd in a game you feel Sweden will think is their best shot of a group win.

Martin Olsson - 5.5m

5 goals in 34 games for Sweden he will start and drive forward rom left back

Mikael Lustig - 5m

A goal and assist in the 3-0 win over Wales caught the eye.  The Celtic player can cover in central defence but is likely to take the tight back spot.

Emil Forsberg - 5.5m

The brightest spark not called Zlatan in the 3-0 win over Wales.  Forsberg can play the no10 role but will likely play from a wider role in the Euros.  Excellent price.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 11m

Way overprice but at 34 still playing fantastic football.  He comes into this on the back of scoring 50 goals this season for club and country and only Cristiano Ronaldo can rival his self-belief.

Plays the game with his brain and technique over power and pace but is the sides only consistent threat.  Zlatan will think he can win the competition on his own but it seems unlikely.

If you hold Griezmann, Muller, or Lewandowsky in your squad  and they fail to score you may have enough find to bring him as a daily transfer.

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