Italy left it late to get the three points but with that it meant they didn’t have chance to let it slip. That goal from Eder was enough to sent the Azzurri through to the next round, as well as landing a 28/17 shot.Embed from Getty Images
Czech Republic kept the late trend going by scoring a late equaliser from the spot after Domagoj Vyda handled in the area. The Croatians were 2-0 up when Luka Modrić limped off then flares were launched onto the pitch causing an added delay, which overshadowed an exciting game.
That penalty meant the 5/2 on Croatia winning by a goal went down the pan. Spain ran out the biggest margin of win at this tournament as they cruised to a 3-0 win with two goals from Alvaro Morata.
We are in profit for the tournament with the total at +4.93.
Belgium v Republic of Ireland
Venue: Stade Matmut-Atlantique, Bordeaux
Kick Off: 14:00
Referee: Cüneyt Çakir, (TUR)
Whoever claims the three points here would put themselves in pole position to finish in second behind Italy.
Republic of Ireland played well when drawing 1-1 and it would have been three points if it wasn’t for Ciaran Clark’s own goal but there were plenty of positives to take from that performance.Embed from Getty Images
Compare that to Belgium, who were dreadful against Italy. They had a crucial chance to level the game, which fell to Romelu Lukaku but he put too much on his effort.
If you were backing from that performance alone then you have to be swayed into something pro-Republic of Ireland.
These sides haven’t met since a Play-Off in 1997 over two legs, which Belgium won 3-2 on aggregate after a 1-1 draw then a 2-1 success, but you can’t really draw parallels from those historic games.
This is a totally different opposition for the Boys In Green to face compared to what they came up against in their first game. They set up in a 4-3-1-2 and they are likely to be able to deal with the threat of Belgium playing this system.
Furthermore that set-up from Martin O’Neill could help them get the ball into pockets of space for the like of Robbie Brady, Seamus Coleman and goalscorer Wes Hoolahan.
One change that they are forced to make is up front, as they are without Jon Walters, who has an Achilles injury.
Marc Wilmots might have to bring Tottenham’s Moussa Dembélé in just to balance the squad and I’d be looking to bring him in for Marouane Fellaini. The Boys in Green won’t mind a physical battle, which Fellaini would bring but playing the better footballer in Dembélé could cause them a few problems.Embed from Getty Images
Cüneyt Çakir only showed two yellow cards on his first outing at this tournament. On paper this could be a similar match to the Portugal v Iceland game he officiated.
The Turkish arbiter refereed Republic of Ireland during qualifying and showed five yellow cards and sent off John O’Shea. Also he gave the Boys in Green a penalty.
Both of these teams opening matches reached double figures for corners – Belgium’s 14 and Republic of Ireland’s 10, so that could be another way in.
I’ve looked at both teams to score because I feel that is likely to land with what is at stake. However I’m more confident putting up the total match goals because I can’t see there being more than three.
Total Goals Exact 2-3 – EVS
10-12 corners & 4-6 cards – 11/2 (0.5pt)
Hungary v Iceland
Venue: Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Kick Off: 17:00
Referee: Sergei Karasev, (RUS)
Hungary were the surprise package of the first round of group matches when they defeated Austria.
Adam Szalai isn’t one of the more prolific strikers at this tournament but he finally took a chance to put them into the lead then a lovely finish from Zoltan Stiber sealing the win.Embed from Getty Images
It was a remarkable achievement that a country the size of Iceland have qualified for a tournament. They showed why and how they did it when holding Portugal to a valuable point, which lead to some sour grapes from Cristiano Ronaldo.
This looks a fascinating contest on paper given a Hungary win could all but seal a place in the next round. It would be a major surprise if Hungary were able to finish top of this group but three points could pretty much seal that.
The Magyars were resolute against Austrian and Bernd Storck must have been delighted by the performance and result. On the back of that I’m surprised to see them priced up as outsiders for this one.
Iceland nearly won it against Portugal but the Icemen would have taken a point before the match. They nullified Ronaldo and were persistent in their attacks, which resulted in them finding an equaliser.Embed from Getty Images
These last met in a friendly in 2009 where Hungary won 4-0 but times have changed dramatically for both sides since then. Prior to that they had faced off in World Cup qualifying where Hungary won both matches 3-2.
With that win the Magyars can probably afford to sit deep and then hit Iceland on the counter attack therefore I’m not expecting a game full of goals.
The whistle blower is Russian Sergei Karasev, who showed six yellows and awarded a penalty in his first match at the tournament.
In qualifying he took charge of Hungary’s match against Greece. The game was goalless and he showed five yellows, so cards are worth a look on his record.
Under 2.5 Goals – 4/7
1-1 Draw – 11/2 (0.5pt)
Portugal v Austria
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli, (ITA)
Portugal drew their first match against Iceland and they were on top for large parts but couldn’t turn that dominance to three points.
Austria seemed to freeze in their opener against Hungary but things would have been a lot different if David Alaba’s shot in the first minute had gone in rather than hit the post.Embed from Getty Images
Aleksandar Dragovic was harshly sent off in that game when challenging for ball and when the ball broke to the edge of the box it was drilled into the Hungarian goal but disallowed.
I was far from impressed by how Portugal defended, so the way forward for Marcel Koller’s side might be by using the width of this pitch and getting balls into Marc Janko. If they do that and can win the second ball with David Alaba then they could cause some problems.
It was Fenerbahçe player Nani that opened the scoring for Portugal and he had numerous other chances to put the game to bed but failed. He put in a good performance on the back of a good season in Turkey.Embed from Getty Images
Nicola Rizzoli took charge of England versus Russia and only dished out two cards and this looks to be another low game for cards.
There are a couple of candidates to collect cautions if this game was a bit feisty, Pepe for Portugal or Florian Klein for Austria.
The Selecao match contained plenty of corners but it was a low count in the Austrian game. If Portugal play like they did against Iceland then the corners handicap might be something to appeal.
As you can probably tell, I’m stuck what to put up. From the first games you’d be backing Portugal but they aren’t a nation I trust. The fact I preferred Austria for a big tournament looks silly after their opening defeat.
For the need of putting up a bet, I’m giving the tentative vote to an anytime scorer at a price. He hit the woodwork for his side in their opener and kept popping up in dangerous areas. Also if his side were to get a penalty he’d be the one to take it.
David Alaba anytime – 6/1 (0.5pt)