Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill said Ireland's group "couldn't be tougher" after they were drawn against Belgium, Sweden and Italy in Group E of Euro 2016 in France.

O'Neill's men will open the tournament on Monday, 13 June at the Stade de France in Paris against Sweden, who came through a play-off with Denmark to book their ticket to the finals.

Ireland then take on Belgium in Bordeaux in their second game on Saturday, 18 June, and face a mouthwatering encounter against Italy in Lille in their final group game on Wednesday, 22 June. 

O'Neill also admitted that his team are facing a huge challenge but is nevertheless relishing the prospect of taking on the highly rated Italy and Belgium.

"It couldn't be tougher," the Ireland manager told RTÉ Sport. "It's there to digest. It's very difficult, with two Pot 1 teams effectively, but we'll treat it accordingly when the time comes around.

"They're games to look forward to. I think Northern Ireland have a tough draw. I didn't want Germany or Poland. I'll be able to tell Michael O'Neill plenty about those teams." 

It's a first return to Stade de France for Ireland since Thierry Henry's infamous handball in the play-off defeat in 2009 and O'Neill added: "There are lots of plots and sub-plots. I think the fans' enthusiasm will be enhanced by the draw." 

Northern Ireland were handed a daunting draw in Group C alongside two of Ireland's qualification opponents, Poland and Germany, as well as Ukraine.

England and Wales are set for a huge collision in Group B after they were paired together, with Russia and Slovakia completing a compelling group. 

It will be the fourth time Ireland will take on Italy at a major tournament after the Italia 90 quarter-final meeting, the memorable Irish victory at USA 94 and the chastening 2-0 defeat at Euro 2012 in Poland.