Euro 2016: Martin O’Neill wary of “wounded animal” Belgium
Sport

Euro 2016: Martin O’Neill wary of “wounded animal” Belgium

REPUBLIC of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill says his Ireland team will need be wary of an angry and talented Belgium side ahead of their European Championships Group E meeting in Bordeaux on Saturday.

The Belgians, who were tipped as one of the favourites heading into the tournament, were beaten convincingly by Italy on Monday to leave them bottom of the group with no points, but O’Neill believes the likes of Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne will be chomping at the bit to make amends against his side.

“Belgium are a really fine side, really fine,” O'Neill said. “Individually they are as talented as any side in the competition. Little Hazard is one of the best players playing in the world at this minute. They are very dangerous anyway, but even more so now they are a bit of a wounded animal.

"When the group was announced, I think that Belgium finishing any worse than second is not something that they would have contemplated, so they will be coming out all guns blazing.

"We have to deal with that and the individual threat from them that they have got in abundance."

With Ireland braced for a backlash from Belgium, the former Celtic and Leicester City manager is hoping for a similar Irish performance as seen in the 1-1 draw against Sweden on Monday in their first match of the tournament.

Advertisement

"They will cause us problems, so we have to show the same spirit and determination again and try and play as strongly with the ball as we did the other night,” the 64-year old said.

"If we win against Belgium, I think that four points would take us into a group of teams that might qualify. We're going to have to show the same sort of attitude again.

"Showing the same attitude I don't think is a problem for us because we have to go and compete, go and be strong and be confident again on the ball. If the game against Sweden doesn't give you a lift, nothing will."

Meanwhile, Jonathan Walters is expected to miss the Belgium game, which kicks off at 2pm this Saturday, due to a recurring Achilles injury. However, O’Neill’s medical team are hopeful the Stoke forward will be back available in time to face Italy next week.