The final round of group matches at these European Championships, so have your calculators at the ready just in case of working out the four best third placed finishers. Today is the day England learn their fate for Monday’s Last 16 clash.
After last night it also got a lot harder for England. Spain’s defeat to Croatia meant La Roja are now in the same side of the draw and that could mean a semi final against them or Italy.
In that loss for the defending champions Sergio Ramos saw his penalty saved but it can be argued it was a rather generous awarding. Croatia have been cut in the betting to a single figure price to win the tournament and they must now have a major chance.Embed from Getty Images
Despite a defeat there was also joy for Northern Ireland. They could have been beaten by any score but Germany only managed to get past an inspired Michael McGovern once and that 1-0 scoreline landed an 11/2 correct score bet in the match but more importantly it sent the Green & Whites through in terms of a best third place finish.
Five bets highlighted yesterday and three winners, all at odds against prices – 6/5, 7/5 and 11/2. Therefore the profit is now +12.25.
Hungary v Portugal
Venue: Stade de Lyon, Lyon
Kick Off: 17:00
Referee: Martin Atkinson, (ENG)
Hungary have been the surprise package of the tournament. Written off prior to the tournament yet they come here unbeaten albeit rather fortuitously after an 88th minute own goal earned them a point against Iceland. A point here should be enough for them to top the group.Embed from Getty Images
Same old, same old for Portugal. As it stands they will be the ones for England on Monday. Two games and two draws, so far. It was goalless against Austria but Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal rightly disallowed and struck the post with a penalty and that all followed his sour grapes rant after their opening 1-1 draw with Iceland.
The Magyars have conceded once so far and that came from the spot versus Iceland and to be honest it was a dubious decision. They stood tall and had a bit of luck on their side against Austria, which all sides need, but they are a resolute outfit.
That’s not something I’d say about Portugal in honesty. Looking forward it would suit England to play these will their vulnerabilities at the back and the fact they are likely to attack unlike some of the potential opponents.
The full back area, on both sides, so in this game if Hungary look to exploit that and get balls into the box for either Tamas Priskin or Adam Szalai.
I don’t think Bernd Storck’s tactics really worked against Iceland after he made changes from the side that won their opening match. If he was to revert to the side from the first game then they could do more than just draw.
UEFA had already appointed Martin Atkinson to this fixture prior to England’s draw with Slovakia but there could be more emphasis and scrutiny on that decision if he incorrectly missed/gave a game changing decision.Embed from Getty Images
He only cautioned Andriy Yarmolenko in his opening match between Ukraine and Germany but six players are on the verge of missing the next round if they pick up another yellow here.
That situation could affect the team selected by Storck especially, as there are four Hungarians with yellows to their names.
With a draw being enough for the Magyars then I can’t see this being an open, expansive game of football. They’ll sit back and put the pressure on around the edge of their box to stop Ronaldo from shooting from distance or finding pockets of space.
Under 2.5 Goals – 11/17
Half Time/Full Time – Draw/Draw – 19/4 (0.5pt)
Iceland v Austria
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick Off: 17:00
Referee: Szymon Marciniak, (POL)
A must win game for the below par Austrians if they want to get through to the next round and to do that they’ll have to play an attacking game and take their chances when they fall their way.
Iceland now a draw should be good enough to get through but a win could see them top the group if there is a favourable goals swing.
Marcel Koller has played the usual 4-2-3-1 and against Portugal he played David Alaba in a more attacking role, in behind the striker. With Aleksandar Dragovic available after suspension and Zlatko Junuzovic doubtful we could expect a few changes.
Marc Janko was on the bench for that fixture and many Austrian journalists are expecting him to return to the starting XI. It’s a time for their big name players like Alaba and Marko Arnautovic to step up and deliver.Embed from Getty Images
The minnows of Iceland were going to claim their first win at a European Championships until Birkir Sævarsson’s 88th minute own goal. However two points from their first two puts them in a strong position.
The UEFA website hasn’t stated anything on the suspension list but Alfred Finnbogason has picked up a yellow card in both match for the Islanders, so should be suspended for this match, which lessens their firepower off the bench.
These two sides met most recently in 2014 in a friendly, which was a 1-1 draw and that scoreline has seemed to be Iceland’s one of choice so far. In total there has been three meetings resulting in two draws and one win for Austria.
Szymon Marciniak went about his first match in quiet fashion and looked a safe pair of hands, which are useful for crucial games like this one.
The former top flight midfielder turned referee showed just the one card in his opening match between Spain and Czech Republic. He’ll be hoping for a similarly quiet game here in Paris.
Seven players come into this match with yellow cards next to their name and will have to watch their step. They include Premier League champion Christian Fuchs and Iceland’s first ever goalscorer in this competition Birkir Bjarnason.Embed from Getty Images
I’m not expecting a goal fest or a match high on entertainment in all honesty and that should suit Iceland. Lars Lagerback has worked wonders for this nation but he can’t retire just yet, as it’s hard to look past them getting through to the Last 16. The 1-1 draw at 6/1 is worth looking at, as is Iceland Double Chance at 8/11.
Under 2.5 Goals, Under 10 Corners and 4-6 cards – 5/1 (0.5pt)
Italy v Republic of Ireland
Venue: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Ovidiu Hategan, (ROU)
Italy have got the job done in Group E with wins over Belgium and Sweden meaning they are sitting pretty at the top of the group.
They got over the line thanks to some quick Giorgio Chiellini thinking, which lead the ball falling to Eder to beat Andreas Isaksson.Embed from Getty Images
Republic of Ireland have plenty of work to do. Bottom of the group on one point, level with Sweden, but have a goal difference of -3. If they stand any chance of reaching the next phase a win is imperative.
These two sides met at Euro 2012 in Poznan and that was the final group game. Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli were both on the scoresheet in a 2-0 win for the Azzurri, in a match that Keith Andrews received his marching orders.Embed from Getty Images
With Italy through to the next round a point would seal them top spot. It is understood that manager Antonio Conte will make wholesale changes to his starters for this encounter.
The Boys in Green are likely to be without Jon Walters once more and they missed his work rate on and off the ball against Belgium. If Martin O’Neill’s side start on the front foot and score early it would make for interesting viewing but the longer the Italians remain level then the Irish hopes will fade.
Romanian official Ovidiu Hategan has his second outing in the tournament. This time he takes charge of the southern part of Ireland.
His first match was Northern Ireland’s valiant 1-0 defeat to the hands of Poland, where he showed just three yellows, which is his standard marker when refereeing in the international arena.Embed from Getty Images
Overall I’m going to imagine this being similar to a final match of the season in Serie A for the Italians, which will lack any sort of intensity and be more than happy to take the point. Counter that with the thought that the incoming players want to impress to try and steal a place for the game against Spain makes the harder to decipher than the Countdown conundrum.
We saw how well Republic of Ireland played against a limited Sweden side and that was a game where they’ll reflect and rue their missed chances because it should have been three points.
The question here is – are Italy’s second string backable at 11/8? Probably not in my book considering what we know about the Italian league. If you were backing an Italian win then it is going to be better looking at the correct score market for the value.
If there is a match worth sitting back and watching without the need for a bet this is the one.
Sweden v Belgium
Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Felix Brych, (GER)
The Belgians turned on the style against Republic of Ireland in the way they won 3-0. They were slightly lucky not to have conceded a penalty just moments before the opening goal but once that went in they didn’t look back.
Marc Wilmots side know a point is good enough to take second spot and the fact they come up against a hapless Sweden side must boost confidence.Embed from Getty Images
The Swedes have been poor in their two games. Despite ‘scoring’ in their opening match they are still yet to register a shot on target in this tournament, which could mean Thibaut Courtois might have a quiet night once more.
Erik Hamren’s men were resolute for the large part against Italy. The Azzurri found a way through late on and prior to that they also rattled the crossbar.
This could be Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last international appearance after yesterday he announced his retirement from the world stage and the 34 year old will be hoping to go out with some sort of special moment.Embed from Getty Images
These sides met back in Euro 2000 when Belgium ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of a goal either side of the break. They met two years ago in a friendly, which Sweden hosted but once more the Red Devils prevailed with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Eden Hazard.
Felix Brych has the honour of taking charge of this fixture after doing a good job in the England v Wales crunch match in Group B.
The German showed just one yellow card and allowed the game to breath, which added to it as a spectacle. The Doctor took charge of Belgium in qualifying when they lost to Wales. He showed two yellows – one of which was to Nicholas Lombaerts, who isn’t in the squad.
The Red Devils showed they could play as a team against Republic of Ireland when it clicked. Wilmots will hope to name an unchanged side but there are doubts about the wellbeing of Mousa Dembele and Yannick Carrasco.
If he does go full strength then Lukaku to score in a Belgium win would be a way in. Also if you believe in fairytale endings then you might be interested by Ibrahimovic anytime at 14/5. The way in is to probably keep it simple and play with a straight bat to save getting caught out.
Belgium to Win & Under 3.5 Goals – 13/10