John Giles - Ireland's draw 'not as bad as it looks on paper'

Ireland were drawn with Belgium, Italy and Sweden

BY Ruairi Casey 21:55 Saturday 12 December 2015, 21:55 12 Dec 2015

Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland and Sweden are drawn in group E during the UEFA Euro 2016 draw in Paris, France. (Adam Davy/PA Wire)

Tonight's draw to determine the group stages of Euro 2016 was not kind to Ireland, but John Giles says it isn't as bad as it seems.

The former international was worried when he watched the televised draw - which placed us in the same group as Italy, Sweden and Belgium - but claims it won't be as challenging in reality as it looks on paper.

Describing Italy as "not quite the great team they've been over the years," he suggests Ireland will find them easier going than in previous meetings. Sweden too, he highlights, have been in poor form and qualified through the play-offs after finishing third in their group, just as Ireland did.

Belgium have yet to live up to their potential and have been "a disappointment in relation to the reputation of their players." If things do begin to click for them though, the team will be a strong contender to claim their country's first tournament victory.

A repeat of the last Euros, when Ireland crashed out with the worst record in the tournament, isn't likely, according to Giles.

Unlike that tournament, when we lost each group stage game against Spain, Italy and Croatia, we'll now be facing teams that are not in their best form. We'll also be playing a more open, less defensively-minded game too.

"Trapattoni's attitude all the time was to restrict the opposition. I don't think Martin O'Neil has done that," says Giles.

History tells us that football is capable of dismissing even the most well-founded of preconceived ideas, and writing off Ireland this early would be an unwise move.

"We've got to go into it with an open mind - this is not like the last Euros. This is different."

Off The Ball


The very best bits of Off The Ball delivered every week