The group of mild anxiety (with three teams going through from most groups the idea of a group of death kind of just disappeared) didn't disappoint, throwing up some surprises and perhaps the moment of the tournament thanks to the Boys in Green. Ali takes a look through the comings and goings of group E.
The Italians were the first team to confirm their place in the round of 16 as group winners after an impressive victory in their opening match against the Belgians. With many expecting Belgium to challenge for the trophy, the Italian defence did what Italian defences do best and shut the multi-million pound talents down across the pitch. With Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku finding no space to work in, the Italians then used their effective attacking unit to lead 1-0 at half time. Despite Belgian pressure, Italy held strong in the second half and killed the game off late on with a second goal and showed everyone just how dangerous they are going to be at this tournament. A more laboured performance against Sweden was less impressive but saw them qualify for the next round as group winners, before a much changed side failed to find a rhythm and lost to an all-or-nothing Irish side on the last game. A tough game against Spain awaits but the Italians will be confident their defence can hold out.
As mentioned above, the Belgian side is one of the most talented in the tournament on paper, much as they were two years ago in Brazil. Once again that has failed to translate into good performances on the pitch however and despite beating the Republic of Ireland 3-0 they just haven't clicked into gear. Because they possess so many skillful individuals and a squad deeper than most other sides in the world at the moment, many were expecting electric performances from the Belgian Red Devils and passage into the next round as the group winner. However the team have clearly still not gelled and lack a leader without captain Vincent Kompany, as displayed in the Italy game where there was a lack of discipline or purpose as they chased the equalising goal. They got incredibly lucky in drawing Hungary in the round of 16, but few would say that they will certainly win it based on the form displayed so far at this tournament.
Republic Of Ireland
The Irish were seriously unlucky not to win their opening match against Sweden after an own goal saw the sides draw 1-1 despite Sweden not having a shot on target. A thrashing at the hands of Belgium put the fear of a repeat of 2012 into the side, but instead of crumbling under the pressure they stepped up and put in a fantastic display against Italy in the final game of the group stage to claim the final spot in the round of 16. Robbie Brady ran the game for the Republic and his headed goal late in the game saved the tournament for his side, who were crashing out on two points before that moment. After a couple of good performances they have earned their place in the next round but will face a tough match against France. Although the hosts haven't been fantastic so far they will be the favourites and Ireland will need another heroic display to overcome the odds yet again.
Axel is in the process of tearing into his home country, so I will leave the bulk of the criticism for him. Safe to say Sweden did their retiring icon no favours, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic bowed off the international stage with his side making barely a whimper. If it wasn't for the own goal in the first match they would have lost every match 1-0, three terrible games and three terrible results. Unlike Romania or the Czech Republic they did not give a good account of themselves in France and will be hoping for much better when the post-Zlatan era begins in qualifying for the world cup.
This is where it all begins. Our resident analysts study the unrecognised players and examine the matches that are of interest across Europe.