Three players to look out for in Saturday’s Euro 2016 fixtures

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As Euro 2016 moves into its second week, we pick out three players to watch in Saturday’s fixtures.

The Republic of Ireland take on Belgium in Group E at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux in the day’s early kick-off, with both sides going into this encounter looking for their first wins of the tournament.

After that we have two clashes from Group F, starting with Iceland’s game against Hungary at the Stade Velodrome at 5pm, followed later that night by Portugal versus Austria at the Parc des Princes.

With all that to look forward to, here are three players to keep an eye out for in those trio of contests…

Eden Hazard

Belgium take on the Republic of Ireland on Saturday looking to kick-start their Euro 2016 campaign after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to Italy on Monday, and much of the focus will be on playmaker Eden Hazard.

Hazard came into the tournament on the back on a lacklustre season for Chelsea, with the 25-year-old having scored just six goals in all competitions for the Blues, most of which came towards the end of the campaign.

However, if Marc Wilmots’ men are to get through what is sure to be a stubborn and well-drilled Republic defence in Bordeaux, then they will need the Hazard that won last year’s PFA Player of the Year award for Chelsea, rather than the 2015/16 version.

The Belgian, whose attitude was recently criticised by the Republic’s assistant manager Roy Keane, endured another difficult day at the office against the Azzurri in Lyon, with nothing he tried coming off.

But if there is anyone who has the skills and technique to inspire the Red Devils to victory, then it is that man Hazard…

Kolbeinn Sigthorsson

Iceland will be looking to striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson to provide them with the inspiration for victory against Hungary in Marseille.

Sigthorsson and Co recorded an impressive 1-1 draw with group F favourites Portugal on Tuesday, with the Nantes player producing a lively display for his country.

The 26-year-old, who was linked with a move to Celtic in January, will be given the responsibility to provide the firepower his nation needs to progress into the knockout phase of the competition.

The former Ajax man will be Iceland’s main hope of securing their first-ever victory in the finals of a major tournament on Saturday.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Portugal head into their second Group F contest against last-placed Austria needing their best and most experienced player to step up and come to the party. That means Cristiano Ronaldo.

Much of the focus after their disappointing 1-1 draw at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard naturally centred around Ronaldo’s comments criticising Iceland, but that only served to camouflage what was a poor performance all round by the Portuguese.

Ronaldo was particularly out of sorts as his opponents did not give him a chance to get into the game which left the three-time World Player of the Year obviously frustrated.

However, the 31-year-old has too much class and authority to be kept quiet for long and with his side in urgent need of three points in the French capital on Saturday night, what better stage for Ronaldo to rediscover his mojo…

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