Red Devils playing heavenly football
Belgium’s clash with Italy is a fixture worthy of being played at Wembley on July 11. But instead of this being a potentially great final, we have to make do with it being a a potentially classic quarter-final showdown between two of the best teams in the world.
Roberto Martinez’s Red Devils have played like the number one ranked team they are and they showed against Portugal that they can abandon their attacking approach and switch to defensive mode to keep Cristiano Ronaldo and co at bay. The Belgians, who had 44% possession, were outnumbered 24-6 in total attempts.
The omens are good for Belgium after knocking Portugal out in the Round of 16. Four of the last five Euros winners have eliminated the defending champions on their way to glory. The exception being Spain who successfully defended their title in 2012. Despite winning all four of their matches this summer, Belgium can be backed at 8.615/2 to win Euro 2020 next Sunday.
Thorgan Hazard has stepped out of his brother Eden’s shadow during this tournament and with four goals and two assists in his last seven starts for Belgium, Hazard junior will be key to whether his side advance to the last four and the Dortmund star is 7/1 to be an anytime scorer and 6/1 to provide an assist at any time.
Read David Farrar’s preview and tips for Belgium v Italy here
The Azzurri are ready to rule once again
The recipe for a successful tournament is a team built around a strong defence, a creative midfield and one that can converts opportunities. Italy can tick all three boxes as they prepare to face Belgium in Munich for a place in the semi-finals.
Italy’s defence was finally breached by Austria in the 115th minute of their Round of 16 clash on Saturday which ended a run of 11 successive clean sheets. The Azzurri will be looking to start another clean sheet sequence against Belgium which is available at 2.727/4 while Italy to win to nil is a 4.03/1 option on the exchange.
Winning to nil is a habit both these sides are used to. Five of Belgium’s last six wins have been to nil while 13 of Italy’s 14 wins have seen the opposition fail to score. Italy are 10/11 to open the scoring while Belgium are 6/5 to score the first goal.
Italy lead the tournament with 87 total attempts at goal and in Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne, Roberto Mancini has two forwards ready and willing to try their luck from any angle. The pair have combined for 24 attempts and Immobile is 13/10 to have two or more shots on target while Insigne is 11/4 to be on target with two or more attempts.
Italy have the worst conversion rate of the remaining team with a goal every 9.6 chances. Belgium lead the tournament with a goal every 4.7 attempts.
We shouldn’t have been surprised that Italy needed extra-time to get past Austria in the Round of 16. It was the Azzurri’s 17th draw in the European Championships which is the most of any nation and the ninth to end goalless after 90 minutes. Italy, whose last three Euros quarter-finals have gone to penalties, can be backed at 10.09/1 to progress after another shootout.
Switzerland look for Seferovic to shine again
Switzerland’s quarter-final with Spain has the potential to be one of the games of the tournament with goals galore. The Swiss have scored seven of the 15 goals scored in their four matches while Spain have scored 11 of the 15 total goals scored in their four fixtures.
Matches involving both nations have accounted for 30 of the 123 total goals scored in Euro 2020 so far.
Over 2.5 total goals seems a good bet and can be backed at 1.9620/21 but if you are feeling adventurous, over 4.5 goals is available at 7.26/1.
Haris Seferovic’s two goals in their shock win over France in the previous round has put the Benfica forward in contention to win the Golden Boot award. He’s two goals behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Seferovic is 9/1 to open the scoring in this quarter-final.
Two of Seferovic’s three goals were set up by Steven Zuber who leads the tournament with four assists. The Eintracht Frankfurt forward is 8/1 to provide a fifth assist against Spain.
This is the Swiss’ first quarter-final in 67 years when they were one of the eight quarter-finalists when the 1954 World Cup was held in Switzerland. Their story ended in the quarter-finals and they will be looking to steal the summer limelight from Roger Federer by reaching the semi-finals which can be backed at 3.8514/5.
Read Mark O’Haire’s preview and tips for Switzerland v Spain here
Spain looking to reign once again
If you drew Spain in your office sweep, you will be a lot happier now than you were a fortnight ago. Spain entered the tournament as 7/1 fourth favourites, but lacklustre performances in draws against Sweden and Poland they drifted to 10/1 on the sportsbook.
Spain are 16/5 second favourites to win Euro 2020 following their back-to-back goal-fests to reach the quarter-finals. A 5-0 thrashing of Slovakia came five days before the La Roja beat Croatia 5-3 in a thrilling Round of 16 tie.
Spain lead Euro 2020 with 67.5% possession in their four matches played.
Spain have dominated this competition in recent times losing just twice in their last 20 European Championship matches. Luis Enrique’s side have lost just one of their eight meetings with the Swiss and the Spanish are 4/6 to beat the Swiss with the draw 14/5.
No Spanish player has ever scored in three successive games at the Euros, but Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres are hoping to write their names in the history books by doing so in St Petersburg. Both players are 17/10 to get their names on the scoresheet against the Swiss.
England need to be disciplined against Ukraine
If it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it. That’s the dilemma Gareth Southgate faces ahead of their quarter-final against Ukraine in Rome on Saturday. Southgate’s tactics were spot on when beating Germany 2-0 to reach the quarter-finals.
However, with four players facing suspension for the semi-finals, Southgate has to decide whether to take the risk and hope those players walking a disciplinary tightrope can get through the quarter-final without picking up a second yellow card.
Defender Harry Maguire, midfielders Declan Rice, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden are all in danger of missing a possible semi-final at Wembley against either Denmark or the Czech Republic. England are 1.222/9 on the exchange to reach the semi-finals.
Kalvin Phillips regained possession 11 times against Germany which is the most of any England player at the Euros since Tony Adams regained possession 13 times against the Germans in 1996.
The strength of England’s squad means they should be able to cope with the loss of any of those four players. If Maguire, whose yellow card against the Germans was his 17th of the season, was to be booked at 11/4 Tyrone Mings would be a capable replacement.
Ukraine also have four players walking a fine line with their Round of 16 hero Artem Dovbyk joining Yarmolenko, Shaparenko and Sydorchuk on one yellow card each. Dovbyk came off the bench to head the winner against Sweden and got booked for removing his shirt celebrating his goal in the final minute of extra-time.
German Felix Brych will referee this quarter-final. Brych averages two yellow cards a game this tournament with five of the six issued coming in his last match when Belgium beat Portugal 1-0. Under 30 booking points is available at 9/5.