Czech Republic v Denmark
Live on ITV
Czech Republic will bid for second surprise
After following a win over Scotland in their opener with a draw against Croatia and a defeat to England, there was possibly a sense that the Czech Republic‘s bright start to the tournament was fizzling out a little – even if the defeat to Gareth Southgate’s men didn’t really matter.
But now they’re very much looking forward again. Thanks to a deserved 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the last 16, the Czechs are suddenly a win over Denmark away from booking their place in a semi-final at Wembley.
While England fans are drinking in the nostalgia of 1996, so are the Czechs, the beaten finalists on English soil 25 years ago.
There are several parallels between 1996 and 2021. Back then – and again this time – the Czech Republic finished second in their group before beating a decent but not a great side (Portugal) to nil in their first knockout game.
If there is a difference it’s in the goalscoring department. Despite reaching the final, no Czech player managed more than a single goal in Euro 96.
This time they have Patrik Schick on four goals, one behind current top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo. If they are to progress, you feel that the striker will need to play a big part once more.
Location-wise – and I’ve started to think this is important – the Czechs played twice at Hampden Park and once at Wembley in the group phase before flying to Budapest for the last-16 clash with the Netherlands.
Saturday’s game takes place in Baku.
Determined Danes on the goal trail
Perhaps the shock of what happened to Christian Eriksen in their opening game will hit Denmark when Euro 2020 is complete and they have time to reflect.
But, for now, and with Eriksen home and recovering, the extra motivation to ‘do it for Christian’ is fuelling a serious push deep into the tournament.
After opening defeats to Finland (0-1) and Belgium (1-2) – both understandable but for very different reasons – Kasper Hjulmand’s men have hit four goals in each of their last two matches.
They blasted Russia 4-1 to pinch second place in the group and then brushed aside Wales 4-0 to become favourites on many wallcharts to play England in the last four.
After playing their group stages at home in Copenhagen, the Danes again had a big crowd advantage in Amsterdam with their fans allowed to travel while Wales’s weren’t.
It will be a different story in Baku however, so that’s something the team has to cope with. From everything we’ve seen, adversity is no problem for this team.
While England and Spain are big odds-on to win their respective quarter-finals v Ukraine and Switzerland, the market also has a clear picture in this one.
Denmark are the favourites at 2.26/5 while the Czech Republic are 4.03/1. The Draw is trading at 3.39/4
Full respect needs to be paid to the Czechs and they didn’t allow the Netherlands to have a single shot on goal.
However, there was a huge turning point in that game.
Donyell Malen had a golden chance to put the Dutch in front after racing through with just goalkeeper Tomas Vaclik to beat but fluffed his lines. And then less than a minute later, Netherlands defender Matthijs de Ligt misjudged a bouncing ball and was shown a red card after scooping it back with his hand.
That came in the 55th minute and, although the Czechs were impressive in making the extra man tell, they were literally given a helping hand.
Frank de Boer’s tactics also rather played into their hands and it did seem a matter of time before a competent side – and the Czech Republic are certainly that – did for the Dutch and so it proved.
Denmark’s impressive last two results and momentum are built on much sterner foundations and, by contrast, Hjulmand appears to doing everything right after such a traumatic start to the tournament.
The Danes are on a roll, have conceded just a single goal so far (a dodgy penalty) and I’d be happy to back them at odds-against.
However, the bet I’ll go for is Denmark to win and Under 3.5 Goals at 2.829/5. That gives us 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 and 2-1.
The Czech Republic haven’t looked like conceding many so they look the most likely winning scorelines for Denmark.
In-running backers should note that Denmark have scored four of their last six goals between the 79th and 90th minutes so they’re a team who keep pushing even when the game is won.
Both sides have played well defensively and that’s probably the reason for the Under 2.5 goals quote of just 1.635/8.
But another way of looking at it is that Denmark have blasted in eight goals in their last two games while the Czechs have one of the tournament’s most prolific strikers in Schick.
Based on that, the 2.546/4 for Over 2.5 goals looks generous.
Both teams to Score is more balanced with No at 1.814/5 and Yes 2.186/5.
Goalscorer punters may make Patrik Schick their first port of call and he’s 3.814/5 to score anytime.
Kasper Dolberg netted twice in the win over Wales, the first a real beauty, and the Dane is also 3.814/5 to wheel away in celebration again.
Dolberg came into the team after Yussuf Poulsen missed out with injury but the frontman should be back and he also has two goals to his name in this tournament. Poulsen is 3.613/5 to score while Martin Braithwaite who finally got off the mark in the last minute against Wales is 3.8514/5.
The value play at 6.25/1 would be Joakim Maehle, who has popped up on both wings to score from the left against Russia and from the right against Wales.
Playing as a wing-back or on the left of a midfield four, he gallops forward a lot and is a composed finisher.
Looking at the Bet Builder, Maehle to score in Denmark win to land for the third game running is 8.3.
In the assist market, Danish youngster Mikkel Damsgaard has been a bright spark and could be worth a look at 6.05/1.
Denmark are averaging 18.8 shots and 7.3 shots on target per game so far at Euro 2020. Both are their highest numbers on record at a single edition at a major tournament (since 1966 – World Cup and Euro).