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Euro 2016, Group F: Belgium, Italy, Republic of Ireland and Sweden

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F

Predicted finish:

1. Belgium 2. Italy 3. Republic of Ireland 4. Sweden

Belgium (SPI odds to win group: 48.5 percent)

This was supposed to be Belgium's big chance to step up and prove their potential, but manager Marc Wilmots has been beset by bad luck. First, he lost captain Vincent Kompany to injury. Then, one by one, Nicolas Lombaerts, Dedryck Boyata and Bjorn Engels all went the same way. It could be worse. They still have Toby Alderweireld and Thomas Vermaelen, who paired up at the back in the 2-1 victory over Switzerland last week. And Jan Vertonghen, generally used as a left-back, is still standing too. Of course, any team that boasts the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard has to fancy its chances. They should finish first. But they can't afford any more injuries.

Italy (22.9 percent)

Outgoing manager Antonio Conte would dearly like to sign off with success before he leaves for Chelsea, but that's easier said than done for Italy. They were the runners-up in 2012, but are not the force they once were, as two calamitous group stage exits from the last two World Cups prove. Italy scored only 16 goals in 10 games in qualifying and were obliterated by Germany in March. A workmanlike 1-0 victory over Scotland offered evidence of their solidity, but only one player in the squad, Daniele De Rossi, has scored double figures for the Azzurri, and he might not make the cut. Nevertheless, they should be confident of making the knockout stages.

Republic of Ireland (16.3 percent)

Ordinarily, Ireland would take confidence from a 1-1 draw with Netherlands on the eve of an international tournament. Sadly, it's no great signifier of anything these days as the Dutch failed to even make that tournament. What is significant is that Ireland only conceded seven goals in qualifying and that they took four points from world champions Germany. Much will depend on the fitness of captain Robbie Keane and, as manager Martin O'Neill has admitted, their success at set-pieces at both ends. Their first game, against Sweden in Paris, will be absolutely crucial.

Sweden (12.4 percent)

Will Zlatan Ibrahimovic be fit enough to save Sweden? The 34-year-old enigma wasn't able to help his nation past the group stages of the last two European Championships and wasn't fit enough to take part in Sweden's 0-0 draw with Slovenia on Monday. Without him, the Swedes look pretty ordinary. He'll have to hit the ground running because with just one win in their past six games, the omens aren't good for Eric Hamren's side.

Must-see game: Italy vs. Ireland

The new 24 team tournament structure has its critics, especially from those of us who recall the World Cups of the 1980s, but it does mean that even if you lose your first two games, you can still qualify with a win in the third. It's entirely possible that both Ireland and Italy could be in that position when they meet on June 22 in Lille. And the Irish have happy memories of this fixture from the 1994 World Cup...

Eden Hazard will be a key man for Belgium at Euro 2016.

Best individual battle: Ibrahimovic vs. Alderweireld

It was supposed to be Zlatan vs. Vincent Kompany, but injury has put paid to that duel. Now Wilmots has brought Alderweireld in from right-back and he's likely to be on Zlatan duty when Belgium meet Sweden on June 22. Will this be the final farewell for one of European football's most controversial superstars or will Zlatan drive his nation into the knockout stages?

Group X Factor: Romelu Lukaku

What sort of Romelu Lukaku will we see in France? The listless, wantaway Lukaku who failed to score a single goal for Everton in his final 10 games of the season? Or will it be the unplayable force of nature, as shrewd as he is strong, who scored 18 goals in the six months before? Lukaku was a disappointment in the 2014 World Cup. Is this going to be his summer?

Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.

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