It was a dull night in Group A where Albania should steal the headlines after recording their first win at the European Championships and it was one that was thoroughly deserved. The 4-6 cards market was profitable with the referee showing six winning the 23/20 bet.
France and Switzerland was fairly open with both Paul Pogba and Dimitri Payet hitting the bar. However it ended goalless, which suited both meaning France topped the group and the Swiss finished in second.
As pointed out the 23/20 bet landed but otherwise it wasn’t a very good night. The profit now stands at +7.40.
England v Slovakia
Venue: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Carlos Vellasco Carballo, (ESP)
England fought back to beat Wales and that win puts them in pole position to top the table. Jamie Vardy and Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to get Roy Hodgson’s men out of jail.
Slovakia have played well in both of their games but their quality shone through when they got the better of Russia in Lille. I’ve been impressed with their attacking players and could give the England defence a few headaches.
So Roy, who do you start? For me, the team that finished against the Welsh needs to be the one that is selected in here. It would be a surprise selection but with Gary Cahill on a yellow card, and another he leaves him suspended, Hodgson may call John Stones into the centre of defence.
Jan Kozak has a fully fit squad to select from but a number of players are a caution away from missing the next round – that is if they qualify. At this stage they’ve got nothing to lose and if Russia take something from Wales then a second placed finish could be within their grasp.
The Three Lions have a decent record of late against this opposition. They won a friendly 4-0 back in 2009 when Wayne Rooney helped himself to two. Prior to that they met in qualifying for Euro 2004 when England prevailed 2-1 in both matches.
My initial thoughts about this match were an open and end-to-end affair with goals. Nothing has changed my mind, probably until I see the team news, but this could be the highest scoring match of the Euro’s so far with the attacking flair on display.
Robert Mak could face a few former Manchester City teammates. He never made a first team appearance when in England but was at club at the same time as Daniel Sturridge and Joe Hart. His link up play with Marek Hamsik and Vladimir Weiss will be crucial to their chances.
A favourite Spanish official Carlos Velasco Carballo is in charge of this affair and he proved us correct in his opening game, when I said he isn’t card shy.
He took charge of Albania v Switzerland where he showed six yellow cards and dismissed the Eagles captain Lorik Cana. He’ll be a familiar face to many of these England players after he took charge of a number of Champions League and Europa League fixtures involving Premier League clubs.
The Repre lost their discipline late on in their opening contest against Wales and accumulated five yellows. Bar that then there is nothing to suggest that Carballo will be in too much need of dishing out the cards. The Slovaks are 8/13 to pick up the most booking points and that looks a fair price.
These two sides have taken 23 corners between them in this tournament – England taking 15 of those meaning it’s a two game average of 7.5 per match. England Over 6.5 corners is 4/6.
So, where to go with this game? England games have goals – they score and don’t keep clean sheets. Rumours of changes are strife and I believe Slovakia have enough cutting edge to score.
Both Teams to Score & Over 2.5 Goals – 21/10
Russia v Wales
Venue: Stadium Municipal, Toulouse
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Jonas Eriksson, (SWE)
The Welsh have to recover mentally and physically from a difficult defeat to England. The timing of Daniel Sturridge’s winner would have completely wiped them out.
Two free kicks in dangerous positions and two goals for Gareth Bale, despite abject goalkeeping for both.
Chris Coleman has a fully fit side to choose from but the one player walking that disciplinary tightrope is Swansea’s Ben Davies after his yellow card against England.
Russia have disappointed and were flattered to gain a point against England. They were put away by Slovakia and despite their good record against the Welsh, you cannot be optimistic about their chances.
Manager Leonid Slutsky has a doubt over attacking midfielder Oleg Shatov, who has played all 180 minutes so far. Their only player to have seen yellow was full back Georgy Schennikov.
Both teams have scored in their opening two matches but at least Wales have looked convincing in their performances.
With the Russian’s two goals both being headers they may need to come up with a different plan to get the better of Ashley Williams and James Chester, as long aerial balls are bread and water to them.
I really do expect the Dragons to claim the maximum points and that then puts the pressure on England to beat Slovakia to top the group.
Overall I’m expecting an exciting night on the pitch in both Toulouse and Saint-Etienne but it’s going to be very nervy for us watching supporters.
Coral Enhancement: Bale to score & Wales to win – 4/1 (0.5pt)
England & Wales both to win – 5.76/1 (0.5pt)