Ronaldo primed to make his mark in fifth Euros
When Portugal booked their place in Euro 2020, you could easily have placed them in the knockout stage given their impressive record in recent Euro tournaments. The reigning champions have qualified from their groups in each of their their seven appearances at the finals and they have reached the quarter-finals in the last six tournaments. Portugal are 3/1 to win Group F.
But then the draw took place and as each opponent was unveiled, it didn’t need a rocket scientist to see that the group would be the dreaded ‘Group of Death’ with Portugal drawn against world champions France and the three-time Euro champions Germany. Hungary offer some comfort, but they will not make things easy for anyone in the first round.
Portugal will be looking for an opening day win to give then some momentum before facing the Germans and the French. The good news for Portugal is that they have never lost to Hungary. It’s easy to see why Hungary are 8/1 to beat Portugal, but the fact that Portugal have failed to open a tournament with a win in their last five openers offers Hungary some hope.
Some players collect opponents’ shirts, Cristiano Ronaldo collects winners’ medals. Ronaldo needs one goal to break a tie with Michel Platini to be the competition’s all-time leading scorer. A goal this summer will make it five successive Euros with at least one goal. Ronaldo can be backed at 28.027/1 to lead his country to the title and win the Golden Boot award.
Read James Eastham’s preview and tips for Hungary v Portugal here
Griezmann is gunning for Germans again
We’ve had to wait until the final match on day five for the blockbuster clash between France and Germany, but it promises to be a classic between two nations used to contesting finals at major tournaments. These countries have never met in a group stage before, but both will have their eye on topping the group which should make their path to the final that little bit easier.
France are 5/1 to add the Henri Delaunay trophy to the World Cup they won three years ago while Germany are 8/1 to win their fourth European title. As for the game, Germany will become the first nation to play 50 matches in the Euros and a win at 9/5 would be the perfect way to mark that milestone. France are 7/4 to win their opener while the draw is 21/10.
Germany have never lost any of their 12 opening game at the Euros while France are unbeaten in their last eight openers at the Euros
Germany won’t need reminding that Antoine Griezmann has been the thorn in their side in the past. Griezmann may not have had the best of seasons with Barcelona, but when major tournament come round, the 30-year-old shines. And Germany have been on the wrong end of Griezmann’s goals four times.
No player performed better than Griezmann in Euro 2016 and the World Cup three years ago. Ten goals and four assists in those tournaments is a phenomenal record and he can be backed at 50.049/1 to land the Golden Boot award and win the Euros also.
With three nations ranked in the top 12 of FIFA’s rankings, the chances are that the outright winner could emerge from this group. Whoever qualifies, they will be battle hardened and ready for anything the rest of the tournament throws at them. Odds of 17/10 are available for the winners of Euro 2020 to come from Group F.
Read James Eastham’s preview and tips for France v Germany here
Familiar tale of woe for brave Scots
After 23 years, Scotland were reminded about how fine the margins are in a major tournament. Trailing 1-0, the Scots were denied an equaliser by the crossbar when Jack Hendry tried his luck from 25 yards. Three minutes later Patrik Schick’s second goal of the game from just inside the Scottish half put the Czech Republic in control of this Group D contest.
Patrik Schick was 100/1 before the tournament started to win the Golden Boot. After scoring twice, his odds are now 25/1
Schick made a mockery of his pre-tournament odds of winning the Golden Boot with a fine first half header and a David Beckham-esque effort from 50 yards in the second half. The Bayer Leverkusen forward’s confidence will be sky high ahead of his next game against Croatia.
The result was harsh on Scotland who had their moments throughout this opener at Hampden, but it leaves Steve Clarke’s side facing a battle to qualify from Group D which is priced at 7/2. But confidence took a blow and they are 7.413/2 to lay. It’s not all bad news for the Tartan Army. A trip to Wembley to face England on Friday in a game they simply have to win will drive the Scots on.
The Czechs survived a few scares along the way, but they top the group and will fancy their chances of beating a Croatia side that looked an average side at Wembley on Sunday. The Czech Republic are 5/1 to win the group and can be backed at 3.185/40 to make the quarter-finals for the fourth time in seven tournaments.
England remain favourites to win the group and at 5/1 they are joint favourites with France to win the tournament. Victory over Scotland on Friday will secure their passage to the Round of 16.
Lack of cutting edge could hurt Spain
For everyone who backed a goal to be scored in all 51 matches at the Euros, you can blame Spain and Sweden for your bet pear-shaped on just the fourth day. Actually, the blame should be more on the Spanish side than the Swedes in the goalless draw in Seville. Sweden were there for the taking, but Luis Enrique’s side could not score the goal that would have given them the win.
Spain had 75% possession and completed 749 more passes than Sweden in their 0-0 draw.
The staggering statistics suggest Spain should have won this game comfortably, but they lacked a threat in front of goal. Their gameplan to wear their opponents down by passing them to the point of exhaustion looked to be working especially in the first half. Their 419 passes was the most in the opening half of any Euro match since data like that began to be kept in 1980.
Juventus forward Alvaro Morata had a couple of chances, but he failed to take them. Sweden to their credit looked dangerous on the break and their celebrations at the final whistle showed what this point was worth to them.
The stalemate has not affected Spain’s chances of winning their third Euro title in four tournaments and their odds remain at 15/2 to be kings of Europe once again while Sweden have moved from 90/1 to 75/1. Morata was 33/1 to win the Golden Boot, but his sub-par performance against the Swedes means he is now 55.054/1 to end the tournament as the leading scorer.
Poland punished for poor performance
Anyone who pulled Poland in their office sweepstake will have been quietly confident especially with Robert Lewandowski in the form of his life for Bayern Munich. However, while Lewandowski is surrounded by world class players at club level, Poland lack the players who are able to create the chances he gets in the Bundesliga.
Robert Lewandowski has scored just once in his last 11 matches for Poland at a major tournament
Unless there a prize for the worst performing team, those with Poland in their sweeps could be as disappointed with their pick as the Polish supporters watching this squad of players. After losing 2-1 in their opener, there is a chance Poland will be back home by the time the Round of 16 gets under way, but they can backed at 23/10 to qualify from the group.
The three points have boosted Slovakia’s chances of qualifying from Group E which can be backed at 1.292/7. Even if they finish third to Spain and Sweden, a point from either nation in their next two matches might be enough to see them reach the Round of 16. Five years ago, three points from three draws were enough for Portugal to make it out of the group and they went on to win the tournament.
Few would back Slovakia to win the Euros before the tournament began, but after the first round of games in their group, they are two points clear of Spain and Sweden. Could they be this summer’s surprise team? The Slovaks are 4/1 to top their group.