Here's everything you need to know about Ireland's opponents at Euro 2016

The draw for Euro 2016 has been made, so here's a breakdown of Ireland's opponents.

BY Cian Roche 03:09 Sunday 13 December 2015, 3:09 13 Dec 2015

After our last trip to the Euros was not the success we had hoped, are things going to be better this time around?

Well, that all depends on Ireland's opponents, and what Ireland can hope to do in their group now that we know who they will be facing as they vie to make their way to the knockout stages of the tournament this time around. 

A tough draw has seen Ireland end up in Group E with Belgium, Sweden and old foes Italy, so here's all you need to know about the teams standing in the way of Martin O'Neill's men and immortality. 


Rank: 1 

Previous appearances at the Euros: Finished second in 1980 and third in 1972 when they hosted the tournament. They haven't fared well in recent years, only making the group stages in 2000 and failing to qualify for the championships since the turn of the millennium. 

Manager: Marc Wilmots - as a player he won both the UEFA Cup with Schalke in 1997 and the European Super Cup with Mechelen in 1988.

Key player: What's being touted as the golden generation of Belgian footballers, their current squad boasts a litany of talent plying their trades in the Premier League. Among them Romeulu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Jan Vertonghen all stake their claim as the team's key player. Eden Hazard remains the outstanding talent and despite an underwhelming season so far at Chelsea, he can become the main focus of the Belgian attack. 

Image: Massimo Pinca / AP/Press Association Images

Record against Ireland: Surprisingly, we've played Belgium 14 times at international level; they've won five, we've won four, and the rest have been draws. Most recently, back in 1997, Ireland were beaten over two legs and denied a spot in the World Cup. This was at a time when we didn't have much luck in the qualifiers, of course. 


Rank:35 (four places BEHIND Ireland)

Previous appearances at the Euros:Five appearances in the finals, is a very respectable return. Their campaign in 1992 was by far their most fruitful, a semi-final place, only to be knocked out by Germany. Since then only a quarter-final appearance in 2004 is what they've had to show, alongside a handful of group stage fixtures in 2000, 2008 and 2012.

Manager: Erik Hamrén - led AaB Fodbold to the Danish Superliga Championship in 2008 before taking a job at Rosenberg and winning consecutive Norwegian Premiere League Championships. Guided 

Key Player: It's likely to be his last European Championship, but that'll be even more motivation for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The 34-year-old has been lighting up Ligue 1 with PSG and was influential for Sweden throughout the qualifying campaign. Likely to give his all in France next summer, bad news for Martin O'Neill's men.

Image: Christophe Ena / AP/Press Association Images

Record against Ireland: In 10 meetings between the sides, Ireland have only won three and lost five times. The remaining games have been draws, with Ireland most recently losing to the Swedes at the Aviva Stadium in 2013.


Rank: 15 

Previous appearances at the Euros: Champions all the way back in 1968, in recent years they've been more the bridesmaid rather than the bride. Runners up in 2000 and then again in 2012, after coming through impressively against a strong German side thanks to a Mario Balotelli-inspired performance. Dismantled in the final by Spain, but let's relive that performance against Zee Germans.

Manager: Antonio Conte - A student of the game, as a player made almost 300 appearances for Juventus between 1991 and 2004. Went on to manage them between 2011 and 2014 before taking over as Italy manager. Has won Serie A as both a player and manager and is guiding Italy back to former glories.

Off The Ball presenter Adrian Barry was in Paris for us for yesterday's draw and he spoke to Italian football journalist Tancredi Palmeri after the event.

Key player: Boasts both the experience of Buffon and the flair of El Shaarawy, but it's their defensive solidity they'll be relying upon. Giorgio Chiellini will guide them for perhaps the last time in a major tournament. A natural born leader and isn't afraid to chip in with a goal or two.

Image: Miguel Angel Morenatti / AP/Press Association Images

Record against Ireland: The old enemy, those of the Italia 90 vintage will have nightmares about Squillachi's goal. Those who have watched Ireland under Giovanni Trapattoni also won't have the fondest memories as a nation watched Irish football stagnate (and still somehow make a major finals). 14 meetings, nine losses and just two wins. O'Neill will want to channel the memories of Giants Stadium and Houghton's boots, rather than their defeat in 2012. 


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