Yesterday Euro 2016 finally came to life and it all started when Paul Pogba fouled Shane Long in the French penalty area inside two minutes.
Up stepped the Irish hero of the Italy match, Robbie Brady to convert via the post. They looked in control for the first half but with the game opening up it became evident it was a matter of when rather than if for the host nation.
Antoine Griezmann’s double put the game to bed mid way through the second half and things got worse for the Boys in Green when Shane Duffy saw red for fouling the Atleti man on the edge of the box.
The second match of the day was a simple run of the mill affair for world champions Germany beating a below par Slovakia 3-0.
Mesut Ozil also missed a penalty in that one but it was a game where Jerome Boateng and Julian Draxler shone.
It was the Eden Hazard show in Toulouse with the Chelsea man showing form of old to run the show in Belgium’s demolition of Hungary. 4-0 was the right margin of victory but it could have been that by half time if truth be told. The Belgians have clicked and now look a threat when they face Wales on Friday.
Just the one winner at EVS yesterday meaning we lost a point. The profit is now at +9.43.
Italy v Spain
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick Off: 17:00
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir, (TUR)
A clash between two of the better sides in the tournament so far and it could have been completely different if Sergio Ramos had scored from the spot against Croatia to put Spain back in front.
In the end they lost 2-1 and face the consequences of a stern test against the Azzurri, who got the hard work done in their first two group matches.
Antonio Conte’s side looked good in both, especially against Belgium but they’ll be without Roma midfielder Antonio Candreva due to a hamstring injury and that is a blow.
His absence is somebody else’s gain. With Alessandro Florenzi likely to move onto the right wing, Conte will bring in either Mattia De Sciglio or Stephan El Shaarawy to play on the left wing.
La Roja had grown into the tournament prior to defeat in their previous game. In this one they are likely to see plenty of the ball, as usual, but whether they’ll be able to find a way through the rigid blue backline will prove another matter.
Vincente Del Bosque has a full strength squad to pick from and he’ll be hoping tournament joint top scorer Alvaro Morata can continue in his fine form in front of goal.
Cuneyt Cakir is the man in charge of proceedings and in his two games he has shown four cards in total split evenly.
However the Azzurri might test his patience a little too much looking at their tournament record. They have ten players on yellow cards, including both goalkeepers that have featured. The only player for Spain one away from a suspension is Sergio Ramos.
Italy have seen four cards in two of their matches and with the way this game will be played you have to expect them to see a few here. So doubling up Over2.5 Italy Cards with Spain to have the Most Corners looks a good little 2.56/1 double on Bet365.
I can see this going the distance in total honesty. It is highly likely that this will get to extra time and based on the head to head record, which shows as 15 draws from 35 meetings suggests likewise. If you want to push the boat out then Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 9/4 does appeal.
There’s something that’s telling me that the longer this goes the better Italy will get. I’m willing to take a chance on them winning it either in an extra 30 minutes or from the spot.
Draw – 2/1
Italy to win in extra time – 16/1 (0.25pt)
Italy to win on pens – 9/1 (0.25pt)
England v Iceland
Venue: Stade de Nice, Nice
Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: Damir Skomina, (SVN)
England dominated all three group games and managed to win just the once meaning they finished second in Group B.
A travesty in total honesty and you have to look at the other side of the draw and ponder what might have been.
Minnows Iceland were written off and this was set to be their learning curve going forward. Well they proved that one wrong having managed to secure second place thanks to a Arnor Traustason goal with the last kick of the game against Austria.
Shall we play guess the game plan? The Icemen will defend deep and say to England break us down if you can. Well the Three Lions have failed to do it in this tournament when asked to so expect a frustrating night in Nice.
Lars Lagerbäck is an experienced coach and will have done extensive research on how best to nullify England’s threat – but at the minute not even the English are sure what their main danger is.
On top of that there is this little stat from the UEFA website that is of interest surrounding the Iceland manager:
“In six matches against England as assistant coach and then coach of his native Sweden, Lagerbäck did not lose once. That unbeaten record included draws at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups.”
Will Roy Hodgson be bold and start with Daniel Sturridge alongside Harry Kane? That would look likely, as on paper, this wouldn’t be the game to suit Jamie Vardy. If they come out of the traps firing on all cylinders and get an early goal then this could get very one sided.
Gary Cahill will have to watch his behaviour, as he is a yellow card away from a suspension whilst there is three Icelandic players also one away from a ban, but Alfred Finnbogason returns after missing the Austria game.
Luckily for those on cautions Damir Skomina is in charge. The Slovakian is one of the more understanding and lenient officials at the tournament. In his two matches he has only shown three yellow cards.
He’s one that is happy to play the advantage and let the play flow, which should hopefully add to this as a spectacle.
It is expected Hodgson will make six changes to the team that failed to break down Slovakia, including bringing back Kyle Walker, Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane.
The fact that Iceland have scored four goals from nine shots on target compared to England’s three from 15 on frame is slightly concerning.
One thing the Three Lions are expected to dominant is the corner count with them averaging nearly nine per game.
Overall I’m expecting a narrow and hard fought England win in 90 minutes, how brave is that?
Over 7.5 England Corners – EVS
England Win, 10-12 Corners & Under 4 Cards – 6/1 (0.5pt)