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Conte: Italy Euro 2016 group even aside from Belgium

Italy coach Antonio Conte believes they have been placed in an evenly matched Group for Euro 2016, but labelled Belgium as the favourites.

Conte’s men have been drawn alongside the world’s top-ranked side Belgium, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland in Group E for the finals in France.

The 1968 winners, who reached the final four years ago only to lose 4-0 to Spain, will take on Belgium at the Stade des Lumieres in Lyon on June 13 before meeting Sweden in Toulouse and Ireland in Lille.

Belgium reached the quarter-finals of the last World Cup and lost only one game en route to topping their qualifying group.

And Conte said: “I think Belgium are an excellent team, and are among the favourites for the final stages. They have a young team, and a lot of top players in their ranks.

“Then I see pretty equal teams with Sweden, us and Ireland. I think Belgium are among the favourites.

“We know all the strengths of [Sweden striker] Zlatan [Ibrahimovic]. And Ireland are certainly a team who play with a lot of emotion, and who are strong with their team spirit and great intensity. So we have to be careful.”

Sat 12 Dec, 2015
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