Yesterday Hungary pulled off the first real surprise of the tournament. Many of us were full of belief of an Austria win but they look more like a bunch of individuals rather than a team.
Both pieces of advice in the Austria v Hungary game were losers, falling one corner short. However Portugal and Iceland obliged by both scoring taking our profit to +2.73.
Today sees the start of the second group games and we go back to having three matches a day!
Russia v Slovakia
Venue: Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
Kick Off: 14:00
Referee: Damir Skomina, (SVN)
Now we’ve gone through the first matches we have a rough idea of what to expect from certain nations.
Russia were lucky to get their point against England with it coming in second half stoppage time. Meanwhile Slovakia were unlucky not to get anything from their match against Wales.
These sides have met three times in the last six years. All matches have finished 1-0 with two victories going the way of Russia.
Psychologically the earnest is on Slovakia to take the game by the scruff of the neck in their situation needing points, which could leave them vulnerable to a Russian counter attack.
The Slovaks were wasteful against Wales but were slightly unlucky in the way they probed and hit the post late on. If they add some cutting edge then they are the likely victors for me. They can play at a tempo that the ageing Russian defence might not be able to cope with.
For the first time we get chance to see Slovenian estate agent Damir Skomina in the middle.
In his last 20 matches he has dished out 74 yellows, at an average of 3.7, and has dismissed four players. When you look at his international record he tends to be quite low.
The 39 year old is one that will try and let the game breath and flow, which not many tend to do.
Cards wise then Slovakia collected five against Wales when they did look to lose a bit of discipline when chasing the game. Russia picked up just the one against England but this isn’t a market I’d be getting too involved with.
The corner stats are equally as muddling. The Sbornaya took four of the ten corners against England yet The Repre took even fewer against Wales with just three.
Overall it isn’t really a game that appeals from a betting perspective. I thought Slovakia were the better of these two sides in their respective opening matches. They shouldn’t be the price they are but for safety the draw no bet market is the play.
Slovakia Draw No Bet – 13/10
Switzerland v Romania
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris
Kick Off: 17:00
Referee: Sergei Karasev, (RUS)
Romania put in a spirited showing against hosts France but that gets you nothing these days. Well they were until Dimitri Payet unleashed a rocket with his wrong foot.
Score early on then your opponents have a man sent off – you expect it to be plain sailing. It was anything but for Switzerland against Albania. The Swiss had chances of their own but looked troubled at the back.
Just five matches so far have seen both teams to score but for me this game does have the look of a 1-1 written on it.
Romania usually a good defensive unit may have to their ploy in a bid to get something from this game. They scored from the spot against France in the opening match and were unlucky not to score from open play.
The Swiss had plenty of chances but scored from an early set piece. Albania were able to get in behind a few times and if they allow that sort of space for Bogdan Stancu and Florin Andone that sort of space they are likely to be punished.
Our referee is Sergei Karasev – a lawyer of Moscow – and possibly the Russian FA may be in need of him if any more trouble breaks out during this tournament.
He is not one to rule with yellows but isn’t afraid to show a red. In his last 20 matches he has issued 89 cautions, at an average of 4.45, and has shown eight red cards to go with it.
His international cards make up is slightly lower having shown 19 yellows in nine, including Under 21 internationals. In those matches he has sent off three players too.
Both sides took four corners in their first matches and both were involved in games that saw a total of nine. Switzerland looked threatening from them, so may try to play for them more often, while Romania also created a chance or to from them.
The Tricolorii have to get something from this game, preferably three points as that would put them in pole position for second place, with them playing Albania in their final game.
If they push too much for the win then that could fall into the lap of the Swiss with players like Xherdan Shaqiri and Haris Seferovic.
So where do you go here? Both sides were quick out of the blocks and if it wasn’t for Hugo Lloris then both of these would have netted in the first half. I do think the Swiss will start brightly and do similar to what they did against Albania. But coming up against slightly better opposition they should be more vulnerable.
Half Time/Full Time: Switzerland/Draw – 17/1 (0.25pt)
Draw 1-1 – 6/1 (0.50pt)
France v Albania
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Willie Collum, (SCO)
France left it late but it was great! Dimitri Payet’s rasping rocket claimed an opening victory and set the wheels in motion for the favourites in their back yard. They started shakily and had Hugo Lloris to thank for making a smart save in the first five minutes.
Albania had a torrid start. Goalkeeper Etrit Berisha flapped at a Shaqiri corner, which allowed Fabian Schar to head into the unguarded net in the fifth minute. Things went from bad to worse when captain Lorik Cana got his marching orders when handling the ball already on a yellow – Cana will miss this game.
Didier Deschamps shuffled the pack and rolled the dice in that game against Romania with his subs by taking Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann off, which allowed him to play Payet more centrally.
With the amount of games they are likely to play it wouldn’t surprise me if he made a couple of tactical changes for this because he has plenty of options to do so and he may need them against a stubborn Albania.
Scotsman Willie Collum has the whistle for this one and he is hot on any sort of cheating. The 37 year old doesn’t have much international experience behind him but he does seem to be low on the cards.
In his last 20 matches he has shown a relatively low 62 cards, at an average of 3.1 per match, and in those has sent off just the two players.
He refereed Albania last September when they drew 0-0 with Denmark. There were six yellow cards in the match and it was the Eagles who received four of them. They were undisciplined against Switzerland and there looks to be a good bet with Bet 365 in this market. Albania to collect most booking points at 4/9 looks solid for any acca.
Another bet to look at would be France -1. It’s the first time I’ve looked at this market during this tournament and this is also 4/5, which does make appeal in a game where they’ll have the majority of chances. It is whether Oliver Giroud is willing to be clinical.
This looks a match to be pro-France and a victory here for the hosts would pretty much secure a path though to the next round.
France to score both halves – 21/20
Albania O2.5 cards – 4/5