'I Wish Ireland Were Not In Belgium's Group'

'I Wish Ireland Were Not In Belgium's Group'

Nope, those are not the words of an Irish fan. They are, in fact, the words of Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen, who has told Miguel Delaney of the Sunday Independent that the challenge of Ireland at Euro 2016 is not one that he is particularly keen on. Vertonghen has been struck by one aspect of this Irish team: its physical strength. Vertonghen has direct experience of this, having played against both Jon Walters and Shane Long in the Premier League this season:

I've had some very hard games against both of them, both very strong and good players. It's another tough side. We have to be on top of our game every single time. So many of them play in the Premier League and I see them as a very strong team.

I wish they were not in our group!

Fair play to you Jan, he evidently realises how much Irish people enjoy foreigners saying something nice about us, so perhaps this is simply an act of lulling us all into a false sense of security. While there may be an element of that, Vertonghen's experience of Long in particular is bound to be fresh in his memory, as he was terrorised by the Irish striker at White Hart Lane last weekend.

Vertonghen stressed in the same interview that Belgium have their own physical strength. This is apparent to anyone who has watched the Premier League in the last five seasons that Ireland's much-vaunted group opponents have significant toughness at the end of each of Marouane Fellaini's prolific elbows, acting as a couple of flailing ordinances; a kind of equal-opportunity destroyer.


Time to be optimistic.

[Sunday Independent]

See Also: Regardless Of What He Does, It Seems Shane Long Will Never Fully Impress Alan Shearer

Gavin Cooney
Article written by
Changed the spelling of his name upon pressure from Michael Owen.

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