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Sunderland At The Euros: Round #3

Just like Emanuele Giaccherini, today's edition of the 'Sunderland At The Euros' review is short and sweet.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Sebastian Larsson - v Belgium (Stade De Nice, Nice) - 6

It was a disappointing and dour result for Sebastian Larsson's Sweden in Nice, who lost 1-0 due to a late Radja Nainggolan strike on a night that also marked the end of the storied international career of their talisman, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Ibrahimovic confirmed his plans to retire from international football on Tuesday, and who can blame him. Erik Hamren's side play laborious, dated football that does little to force creativity from his players and, as a result, the world-class Ibrahimovic failed to score a single goal in Sweden's three games at the tournament despite going into it on the back of a superb season with Paris St Germain.

Larsson's performance for the Swedes was a typical Seb Larsson performance - he worked hard, huffed and puffed a bit, moaned at the officials, created very little and gave the ball away alot.

This is best shown in his match statistics - Larsson's pass success rate was sixty-eight percent, one of the lowest on the pitch. In his defence, he did also make more blocks than any other player on the pitch - four.

He played yet again on the right of the Sweden midfield, and it perhaps should have been mentioned to his manager that he's never played there in years for his club for a reason.

Still, Larsson always tries his hardest and he deserves credit for that, but his three performances in this year's competition have been nothing short of average and he's done very little to show me why Sunderland should look to hold onto him beyond this summer, especially if we are going to progress.

Elsewhere...

For Emanuele Giaccherini and Italy, it wasn't a great result as they were put to the sword by John O'Shea's Ireland, losing 1-0 in a game which sent Martin O'Neill's side through into the knockout stages at a time when all hope had looked lost.

Both men were unused substitutes for the first time in this year's tournament - both had previously played the full ninety minutes in each of their first two group games - though the circumstances surrounding both players going into the next round of the competition couldn't be any more different.

For Giaccherini, he was rested with Italy already through to the next round and top of their group, and he can expect to be restored back to the starting eleven when the Italians take on Spain on Monday evening at the Stade De France. Gli Azzurri will most certainly look to return to the side that served them so well in the games against Belgium and Sweden, with the remit almost certainly for Antonio Conte's side to go out and frustrate a Spanish side that make keeping possession look far easier than it actually is.

John O'Shea, however, faces uncertainty. Both he and Ciaran Clark were dropped following their calamitous performance against Belgium and in their absence last night the pairing of Richard Keogh - Derby County's player of the year - and Blackburn's Shane Duffy kept one of the tournament's strongest sides at bay, with the Irish keeping their first clean sheet of the competition. You have to imagine that Martin O'Neill and Roy Keane will opt to stick with the same back line when they take on France in Lyon this coming Sunday, but I suppose time will tell.

Next Fixtures

Sunday 26th June - France v Republic of Ireland - 2pm on ITV1 (Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon)

Monday 27th June -  Italy v Spain - 5pm on BBC1 (Stade De France, Paris)