#360fans – Belgium vs Ireland – Euro 2016 UAE preview

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Big threats: Lukaku and Long.

Ahead of their Group E clash on Saturday, Belgium and Ireland UAE-based fans give their verdict on the game.

To gain an insight into the mindset of the fans we asked UAE fans to share with us their predictions and players to watch.

Do you agree or have they missed the mark? Share with us your thoughts and predictions by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.

BELGIUM – Herwig Devolder (freight forwarder, Dubai)

It was a very disappointing team performance against Italy; a lack of inspiration, grit and willingness to win.

Besides Thibaut Courtois, none of the players played well. We must change things up and Kevin De Bruyne needs to play in the number ten role with Yannick Carrasco and Eden Hazard on the wings.

At right-back, I’d also bring in Thomas Meunier, he is a much more attacking option than Laurent Ciman.

PREDICTION: Belgium 3-1 Republic of Ireland.

BELGIUM PLAYER TO WATCH: Kevin De Bruyne. After a weak outing against Italy, hope to see an outstanding performance.

IRELAND PLAYER TO FEAR: Shane Long. Just a tremendous striker.

WHERE TO WATCH THE GAME: Belgian Beer Cafes in Dubai and Abu Dhabi always make for a good spot.

IRELAND Stephen Fleming (teacher, Dubai)

Ireland are feeling both optimistic and pessimistic after a fairly impressive showing against Sweden.

They outplayed the Swedes but once they scored there seemed to be a hesitation to their play.

While Belgium have the big names they can’t seem to gel as a unit, but they do have match-winners that could turn this contest on its head.

PREDICTION: Belgium 1-1 Republic of Ireland

IRELAND PLAYER TO WATCH: Wes Hoolahan. There’s a reason he’s being called Leo Wessi at home after Monday. He could be the creative spark we need.

BELGIUM PLAYER TO FEAR: Kevin De Bruyne is one man that Ireland will have to watch as his stock continues to rise.

WHERE TO WATCH THE GAME: McGettigans in JLT was hopping on Monday, should be again.

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#360view: Morata has eased goals concern for Spain

Andy West 18/06/2016
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On the scoresheet: Morata.

As Spain prepared for the European Championships, there was little doubt over their defensive solidity (provided Iker Casillas didn’t drop a few more clangers) or their sparkling array of talent in midfield.

But there was a major question mark further upfield, where the issue of who would score the team’s goals was looking seriously troublesome.

The leading scorer during the qualifying campaign, Paco Alcacer, had been left out of the squad, as had high-profile but low-yield Chelsea frontman Diego Costa, and the lack of a world-class striker presented manager Vicente Del Bosque with his squad’s biggest flaw. Or so we thought.

Now, a week into the tournament, Alvaro Morata has leapt to the top of the scoring charts with a brace in his team’s comprehensive victory over Turkey, which also saw Celta Vigo forward Nolito get onto the scoresheet with a well-taken effort.

Striker problems? What striker problems?

Friday night’s goalscoring exploits will come as a major relief to the Spain camp, because the meeting with Turkey was a crucial one for the forwards, especially Morata.

The Juventus striker had played well in the group stage opener against the Czech Republic, but his failure to score in that game had attracted some moderate criticism in the Spanish press, and he knew that he needed a goal to prevent the doubts from growing.

Now, with two goals under his belt, Morata’s place is the team is firmly assured, with the fact that he was the first choice for Spanish national television’s post-match interview showing the esteem in which he is now held after doing the thing which all strikers, however good their general play might be, simply must do: scoring.

Goals have always been Morata’s problem. His game intelligence, movement, mental attitude and ability to link the play have never been questioned, but a moderate scoring record (just seven goals in 34 league games for Juventus this season) allowed doubts to linger and saw Del Bosque experiment with several options before settling upon the 23 year-old.

Morata, though, does have a history of excelling in tournament play.

Three summers ago, he was in the Spain team for the Under 21 European Championship, starting every game alongside several current senior squad members including Koke, David De Gea and Thiago Alcantara.

Spain won every game to cruise to the title, with Morata finishing as the competition’s leading scorer – an honour he had already earned in the U-19 edition two years earlier, which also ended in title glory.

With Nolito at his side and a midfield inspired by Andres Iniesta providing the ammunition, it would perhaps be unwise to bet against Morata enjoying the same outcome in France.

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Euro 2016 Player of the Day: Eder (Italy)

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Game-changer: Eder.

Moments of elation have been few and far between for Eder since his vaunted January switch to Internazionale. But all this frustration was forgotten on Friday, his scything run and punishing burst of pace giving him the chance to calmly curl home the 88th-minute winner for Italy against Sweden.

Further joy was created by the fact the goal sent his adopted nation through to the knockout stages at Euro 2016.

Such an intervention was required to decide a meeting which was low on attacking quality and inspiration.

The Brazil-born forward will need to keep this up when the Azzurri meet the bigger nations during the knockouts.

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