Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois named Italy as his team’s strongest competition following the draw for the group stages of Euro 2016.
Despite being ranked top in the FIFA world rankings, Belgium face a tricky test after being placed with Italy, Republic of Ireland and Sweden in Group E.
Belgium reached the quarter-finals at last year’s World Cup and are strongly fancied for a deep run in France, but Courtois says that will only be possible if they hit the ground running at the tournament.
“It is not the easiest draw, but we have to deal with it now,” Chelsea goalkeeper Courtois told UEFA.
“Italy are always a difficult opponent, Sweden with [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic will be difficult, and Ireland always have a strong collective team, and are always difficult to beat at such a tournament.
“We have to be right on top form from the start.”
Belgium’s game against Italy looks set to be a highlight of the Euro 2016 group stage and the teams will open their campaign against each other in Lyon on June 13.
Courtois said: “Hopefully we do well against Italy who are the biggest competitor for group victory.”
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