Lakenheath Old Boys

We are all former students at Lakenheath High School and other public schools in East Anglia. We were in school in the 70s and 80s and drank deeply from the well of British culture of those decades - the pints, the telly, and of course the footie!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Euro 2016 Preview - Group E: Sweden and the Republic of Ireland

Finishing up Group E with the also ran sides - Sweden and the Republic - first up Sweden:

Nickname: "Biagult" ("The Blue-Yellow")

Absurd FIFA ranking: 35th

Coach: Natty dresser Erik Hamsen

Match Schedule: 

June 13 - Sweden v. Republic of Ireland (St, Denis, 12pm EST, ESPN)
June 17 - Sweden v. Italy (Toulouse, 9am ESPN)
June 22 - Sweden v. Belgium (Nice, 3pm, ESPN)

Prospects: In an ordinary group, Erik Hamsen's Swedish side might be considered a shoe-in for second slot. However, given the Group of Death, it's hard to see Sweden edging out either Italy, who have a superior tournament record to them, or Belgium, who have a superior side. The Biagult are an aging squad dominated by the presence of one Europe's most prominent prima donnas Zlatan Ibrahimovic. If he's in the mood in France, Sweden can survive the group in a close third place. If not....

Key Player: It's not a summer tournament without Zlatan.

Prediction: We'll get an early indication of how this group will go with the June 13th match-up between Sweden and the Republic. I expect a close fought draw; however, if one or the other side comes up with a big win and Belgium beat Italy, this group could be wide open.

On to the Republic, who are in a similar place:

Nickname: "The Green Army"

Absurd FIFA ranking: 31st

Coach: Veteran gaffer Martin O'Neill

Match Schedule: 

June 13 - Republic v. Sweden (St, Denis, 12pm EST, ESPN)
June 18 - Republic v. Belgium (Bordeaux, 9am ESPN)
June 22 - Republic v. Italy (Lille, 3pm, ESPN)

Prospects: The Republic arrive in France after a 1-0 aggregate win over Bosnia in the playoffs last fall. Martin O'Neill's side plays very much like a Championship level side, not pretty on the eye, but effective enough to qualify fairly regularly for major competitions. Euro 2012 was a bit of a disaster for the Green Army, providing target practice for eventual champions Spain. Getting out of this Group of Death would be a major accomplishment.

Key Player: Southampton's Shane Long is Ireland's main target man at present. With the LA Galaxy's Robbie Keane an aging force, Ireland will need Long to run the line and score the goals for them.

Prediction: Fourth place in Group D and perhaps rivaling Albania for the worst side in the tournament.

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