Euro 2016

Sweden mulls Euro 2016 ‘group of death’

Sweden mulls Euro 2016 ‘group of death’
Will Zlatan (L) and co. be celebrating in Paris next year? Photo: Lars Krabbe/Polfoto via AP
Sweden’s reward for beating neighbours Denmark in the Euro 2016 play-offs is a tough group comprising of Italy, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland in France in June next year.

Swedish coach Erik Hamrén seemed a little downcast after witnessing the draw in Paris on Saturday night.

“Obviously, Italy and Belgium will be the favourites. I would have preferred to get another team rather than Italy. They may not have been as strong as usual in the qualifying stages but they are traditionally good at tournaments,” he told the Swedish news agency, TT.

Hamrén wasn’t too pleased to be facing Belgium either: “Belgium is a team of whom many have great expectations. It is a team that has been good for a long time.”

Republic of Ireland coach Martin O'Neill agreed with Hamrén that it was a tough group.

“It couldn't get tougher. It is something to look forward to for the fans but it couldn't be tougher.”

Even Italian coach Antonio Conte was wary.

“I think Belgium are among the favourites. Then I see pretty equal teams with Sweden, us and Ireland. We know all the strengths of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden. It is clear Zlatan is the centre of the team, but we should not forget that behind him there is a strong organization. It's fun to meet a great champion like Zlatan.”

“A hard but great group for Belgium,” said Manchester City and Belgium skipper Vincent Kompany on Twitter. “The atmosphere in those games will be incredible.”

Sweden’s first game will be against Ireland on June 13th in Saint-Denis, then Italy in Toulouse on June 17th and finally Belgium in Nice on June 22nd.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition.