Will the real England please stand up? Well that’s what they typically did after conceding a last gasp equaliser.Embed from Getty Images
Despite the disappointment of the result it helped land both bets in that game, which took yesterday to four from six. The profit yesterday was +2.30, meaning for the opening two days we stand at +4.30.
Turkey v Croatia
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris
Kick Off: 14:00
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (SWE)
Turkey qualified as the best third place team during their campaign. Group A provided some surprise results with the Netherlands missing out on the tournament, whilst Czech Republic were winners and Iceland runners-up.
Fatih Terim leads this side to his third European Championships and they come here in good heart after losing just once in their last 16 matches – that came in a friendly against England.
During their ten qualifiers they started slowly losing their first two matches and in the end those were their only defeats along the way. This squad should be a cohesive unit considering the majority of the squad is based in the Turkish top flight.
Croatia were runners-up in their group finishing behind Italy. Their only defeat in that campaign was away to Norway, which saw the end of manager Niko Kovac’s reign in charge. He was replaced by Ante Cacic, who has gone on to win five of his six matches and he has stated this squad can reach the final on numerous occasions.
Ivan Perišić was top scorer in the whole group with six goals – three more than any other player. On top of that they only conceded five goals, which was fewest in the group, so they are strong at the back.Embed from Getty Images
On paper it’ll be interesting to see how Cacic balances this talented squad because if he gets it spot on then Croatia could cause some damage in this tournament.
The Crescent Stars are ranked ten places above Croatia in the official FIFA rankings but they can always be thrown through the window.
On paper The Blazers have a stronger squad with the likes of Vedran Ćorluka and Dario Srna at the back then they’ve got quality with Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić in midfield, not to mention Perišić. Up front they’ve got height with Mario Mandžukić, who is always good for a goal.Embed from Getty Images
In 20 competitive matches since Euro 2012 both sides have a high percentage of matches going under 2.5 goals (Turkey 65% and Croatia 64%), so goals might prove hard to come by in Paris this afternoon.
Looking at Turkey’s recent record then the first goal is hugely important in this fixture. In those 20 games when the Crescent Stars have conceded first they have gone on to lose all.
There have been three meetings between these sides. They met back in the 2008 European Championships in a game that finished 1-1 before Terim’s men won on spot kicks. Then in qualifying back in 2011 they met twice, which saw a goalless draw and a 3-0 victory for Croatia, in which Mandžukić and Ćorluka were on the scoresheet.
I like the look of this Croatian side against a Turkey squad that looks weak up front and might be too reliant on goals from midfield. This game does look highly likely to be low scoring.
Swedish millionaire Jonas Eriksson is the man in the middle for this match. He recently oversaw the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla where he brandished eight cards.Embed from Getty Images
In his last 20 competitive matches he has shown 67 yellows, at an average of 3.35 per game, and just issued the three reds – two of which came in the same game.
There are a few candidates to look at for collecting a caution and the most likely is Turkey’s Arda Turan, who saw four during qualifying. You can get 11/4 on Arda Turan to be shown a card, which is something extra to consider.
Croatia to win by a goal – 11/4
Mario Mandžukić anytime scorer – 11/5
Poland v Northern Ireland
Venue: Allianz Riviera, Nice
Kick Off: 17:00
Referee: Ovidiu Haţegan (ROU)
Northern Ireland were the surprise package of qualifying after topping their group by a point and in doing so they have reached their first major tournament in 30 years.
Michael O’Neil has worked wonders with limited talent in all honesty. The Green & White Army have climbed from 129th in the rankings all the way up to 26th.Embed from Getty Images
Just one defeat in their ten matches, which came away against Romania and they showed their character on Friday night despite falling to defeat against the hosts.
I would be worried about their defence after it conceded eight goals during that campaign despite only facing one strong nation in Romania. One the other hand they have a goalscorer in Kyle Lafferty, who helped himself to seven of their 16 goals, whilst Gareth McAuley was joint top scorer in the group on three.
Poland will feel hard done to having finished second in qualifying behind the world champions Germany, only to get drawn against them once more.
The Red and Whites were disappointing at Euro 2012 in their own back yard but this side is full of potential and promise, which was highlighted in their ten matches. They scored 33 goals, that is slightly inflated due to the fact they faced Gibraltar, but they do have plenty of good forward thinking players, including Robert Lewandowski who netted 13 times.Embed from Getty Images
Their only defeat did come away to Germany and they finished just a point worse off against Joachim Low’s men. They do have the potential to top this group if picking up a positive result against that opposition.
I would have to say this game looks full of goals with neither side defensively sound. Between them in qualifying they kept only six clean sheets in 20 games and considering the attacking ability on show it’s hard to get away from a high scoring match.
We have to go back to 2009 when these sides last came head to head and in the first match Northern Ireland were victorious 3-2 before a 1-1 draw in Poland – in the draw Kyle Lafferty was on the scoresheet.Embed from Getty Images
The major concern for Northern Ireland has to be over the fitness of talisman Lafferty after he sustaining an injury in training. If he isn’t fully fit then it is hard to see where their goals are going to come from. Away from him they’ll be looking to Southampton midfielder Steven Davis to play a crucial role in setting up chances.
11 of Adam Nawalka’s last 15 games in charge of Poland have gone over 2.5 goals but balancing that out over the same period just the four matches involving Northern Ireland have seen three or more goals. In this case the Poles have the quality to see off today’s opposition and are better than their 27th place ranking suggests.
If you want to look away from the obvious players for a goal then Arkadisz Milik scored six goals in qualifying and is going to feature heavily in the Polish attacking style, while Kamil Grosicki is another to take a second look at if he passes a fitness test.
A Romanian doctor in the shape of Ovidiu Haţegan takes charge of this Group C encounter. The 35 year old is one of the youngest and more inexperienced officials at this tournament but he is highly regarded by UEFA.
He’s a hard man to weigh up because his national league stats are quite high but when it comes to his Champions League and Europa League stats he has a low tendency. However in his last 20 matches he has issued 96 yellows, an average of 4.8, and dismissed four players.
Corners could be a way to go considering matches involving both sides averaged over nine per match. In Poland’s last eight matches there has been at least nine corners in six of those. On the other hand Northern Ireland’s pattern is sketchier with four of their last eight reaching double figures.
That said with the Polish likely to be on the front foot Northern Ireland might be happy to give corners away considering they should be adept at defending them rather than trying to stop a Poland counter attack.
Poland to Win & O2.5 Goals – 2/1
Over 9.5 Corners – 10/11
Germany v Ukraine
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Martin Atkinson (ENG)
There are high expectations for world champions Germany following their stylish performances in the 2014 World Cup.
However they Die Mannschaft were too impressive during qualifying, as they finished one point ahead of Poland and dropped points in a draw against Scotland and defeats against The Red & Whites and also Republic of Ireland on that famous night in Dublin.
At times Joachim Low’s side didn’t look totally convincing, as they started a new era without former captain Philipp Lahm and Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker following their retirements. The defence has been built around Jerome Boateng but they are potentially vulnerable in the full back areas.Embed from Getty Images
Going forward they are without the injured paring of Ilkay Gundogan and Marco Reus and when you consider Thomas Muller has found himself on the wing in certain games you wonder if Low is too stubborn in shoehorning his best players into the side.
Ukraine finished third behind Spain and Slovakia in Group C meaning they had to play in the dreaded play-off round. They were drawn against Slovenia and a 3-1 win on aggregate was good enough to see Mykhaylo Fomenko’s team qualify.
Like their neighbours Russia, the problem looks to be an ageing team with certain key players the wrong side of 30. However it didn’t stop them in qualifying from setting up with a defensive mindset.
That focus on defending worked well in qualifying as they only conceded four goals and fell to three defeats, which included two 1-0 loses against Spain.
When they go forward they will look to counter attack through the likes of Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka. The former notched four goals in their ten games meaning he looks the most likely threat for a goal for this Ukrainian side.Embed from Getty Images
Ukraine will play deep and allow Germany plenty of possession, so it is a case of how the world champions will break them down.
Die Mannschaft’s squad looks weaker on paper because of the injuries and retirements, which might give Low a few problems in matches.
As mentioned Ukraine will look to be resolute but considering they fell to defeats against Spain and could only muster draws against Slovakia in qualifying should suggest the Germans should have enough to start with a victory.
The second Ukrainian top scorer in qualifying was Artem Kravets but the 27-year-old striker has been dropped by Fomenko.Embed from Getty Images
It’s another one of those games where one side has a high goals trend (Germany), whilst the other has a low goal tendency (Ukraine). Yet when these sides met in a Friendly prior to Euro 2012 it was a 3-3 draw with four players likely to be on show today scoring – Yarmolenko, Konoplyanka, Muller and Kroos.
One way in could be corners. Germany have averaged 11.6 per match in 27 competitive games since Euro 2012 whilst Ukraine average 12.3 in 24 competitive matches, so the over ten corners market makes appeal.
Premier League referee Martin Atkinson is the man charged with keeping things under control in this one. The Yorkshireman has issued 64 yellows in his last 20 outings, an average of 3.2 per match. He isn’t one likely to reach for a red card in all honesty. In those 20 matches he only sent one player off and that was Danny Simpson; he was the only man to get his marching orders from this whistler in his 29 Premier League games last season.Embed from Getty Images
Most of those cards are issued in the second half of fixtures, so if you can find a good price on something relevant to that it is something to get on. In qualifying Ukrainian defender Artem Fedetskiy collected five yellow cards. With the right-back is coming up against the likes of Mesut Ozil, Andre Schürrle, Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller you can see him seeing yellow.
Over 10.5 Match Corners – 21/20
Artem Fedetskiy to be shown a card – 9/4