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THE TEAMS

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THE STATS

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THE ANALYSIS

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THE EXPERTS

EURO 2020 THE ULTIMATE BETTING GUIDE

ONES TO WATCH

TEAM BY TEAM

Foden? De Bruyne? Kante? Unique analysis, insight and Ronaldo? Who’ll be the star of tips for all 24 nations at Euro the show? 2020.

PAST MASTERS Can the French repeat their 2018 World Cup heroics or will a surprise champion emerge?


NOTES FROM THE EDITOR Welcome to Euro 2020: The Ultimate Betting Guide from the WeLoveBetting Team! The wait is finally over and 364 days later than first expected, the highly anticipated 16th edition of the European Championships is upon us. This magazine has been months in the making and we’ve filled a huge 120 pages with forensic analysis on all the major markets, the 24 participating nations, and every available angle of attack

to give you the ammunition required to make this summer a success. The latest renewal is the first panEuropean tournament, which creates an intriguing dynamic with multiple host nations along the way, and we’ve attempted to decipher the potential advantages and pitfalls for each competitor. We also take a deep

OUTRIGHT WINNER

dive into the Home Nations prospects with Scotland ending a 23-year wait for a return to the top table. In a competition steeped in outright upsets, North Macedonia and Finland will be looking to make a splash on their major tournament debuts, whilst defending champions Portugal are aiming to become only the second nation to successfully retain the trophy.

July, there’s bound to be plenty of thrills and spills throughout the forthcoming four weeks, so enjoy the fantastic festival of football, best of luck with your bests, and we hope our comprehensive companion guide is full of informative and insightful content to keep you ahead of the game.

Mark O’Haire @markohaire

Whoever is crowned on 11th

HOME NATIONS

LONG SHOTS

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You have to go back to 1958 for the last time England, Scotland and Wales all qualified for a major tournament. Dan McCulloch examines the home nations’ prospects.

Long-shot specialist James Cantrill picks out a collection of big prices to cheer on through the summer.

SHOUTING THE ODDS

80 Euro 2020 appears fascinatingly poised; Mark O’Haire examines the battle for the Henri Delaunay Trophy, making the case for three candidates in the Outright Winner.

SPECIALS

REFEREES

94

106

James Cantrill has trawled the Specials markets to find five fancies he feels could land you profit during the tournament.

Bookings boff Gavin Murphy is on-hand to mark your card with every referee analysed.

114 How do bookmakers price up international football? Odds compiler Mark Stinchcombe shares his insight and picks out a pair of pre-tournament punts.

2 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


CONTENTS

TOP SCORER

We’ve jam-packed 120 pages of unmissable Euro 2020 betting content to give you the best opportunity of success this summer. From the Outright Winner to Top Goalscorer, in-depth team guides on all 24 nations to the 18 referees overseeing matters, we’ve left no stone unturned in our quest to provide you with the most comprehensive companion. 04

Host Cities

05

Tournament Schedule

06

Home Comforts

08

GROUP A Overview

10

Italy

12

Switzerland

14

Turkey

16

Wales

18

Group A Stats

20

GROUP B Overview

22

Belgium

24

Denmark

26

Finland

28

Russia

30

Group B Stats

32

GROUP C Overview

34

Austria

36

Netherlands

38

North Macedonia

40

Ukraine

42

Group C Stats

44

GROUP D Overview

46

Croatia

48

Czech Republic

50

England

52

Scotland

54

Group D Stats

56

GROUP E Overview

58

Poland

60

Slovakia

62

Spain

64

Sweden

66

Group E Stats

68

GROUP F Overview

70

France

72

Germany

74

Hungary

76

Portugal

78

Group F Stats

80

Outright Winner

84

The Price Is Right

86

Ask The Experts: WLB

90

Ask The Experts: The Pros

94

Specials

96

Home Nation Specials

100

Top Goalscorers

104

Players to watch

106

Referees

110

Longshots

114

Understanding The Odds

116

Tartan Memories

118

Stats & Trends

102 Tournament Top Goalscorer betting is always popular. Tom Love dips deep into trends, takes a look at this summer’s contenders and give us his five to follow.

GROUP a

08 Host nation Italy are joined by Switzerland, Turkey and Wales in an ultra-competitive Group. With no obvious outsider in the pool, the race for a toptwo finish appears tighter than most.

GROUP D

GROUP B

GROUP C

20 Belgium are the clear market favourites to finish top of the Group B tree but Denmark and Russia will hope home comforts give the hosts a helping hand. Finland – making their major tournament bow - complete the quartet.

GROUP E

World Cup finalists Croatia and Czech Republic make-up the pool.

Arguably the most open group of all, Group C features hosts Netherlands, alongside an improving Ukraine, newbies North Macedonia and Austria. After seven years in the international wilderness, will the Dutch dominate?

GROUP F

44 England’s latest attempt at major tournament glory sees the Three Lions pitted in Group D alongside auld enemy Scotland. All eyes will be on duos Wembley dust-up on 18th June.

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56 Spain will look to entertain Group E rivals in sweaty Seville with Poland, Sweden and Slovakia facing trips to St Petersburg and back. The race to reach the knockout stages is delicately poised.

World Cup winners France and defending champions Portugal join host nations Germany and Hungary in the undoubted Group of Death. There are mouthwatering match-ups everywhere you look in Group F.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 3


THE HOST CITIES ST PETERSBURG GLASGOW COPENHAGEN LONDON

AMSTERDAM

MUNICH BUDAPEST BUCHAREST

BAKU

ROME SEVILLE

THE VENUES

The first pan-European tournament, Euro 2020 will feature 11 different host cities from St Petersburg to Seville, Baku and Budapest. Wembley will be tournament HQ, hosting seven games in total,t including the semi-finals and showpiece final.

WEMBLEY STADIUM London, England Capacity: 90,000

STADIO OLIMPICO Rome, Italy Capacity: 70,634

ALLIANZ ARENA Munich, Germany Capacity: 70,000

OLYMPIC STADIUM Baku, Azerbaijan Capacity: 68,700

KRESTOVSKY STADIUM St Petersburg, Russia Capacity: 68,134

Puskás Aréna Budapest, Hungary Capacity: 67,215

LA CARTUJA Sevilla, Spain Capacity: 60,000

ARENA NATIONALA Bucharest, Romania Capacity: 55,600

JOHAN CRUYFF ARENA Amsterdam, Netherlands Capacity: 54,990

HAMPDEN PARK Glasgow, Scotland Capacity: 53,000

PARKEN STADIUM Copenhagen, Denmark Capacity: 38,065

4 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


the DRAW GROUP a

GROUP B

Jun 11 - Stadio Olimpico, Rome - 20:00

Jun 12 - Parken Stadium, Copenhagen - 17:00

TURKEY v ITALY

DENMARK v FINLAND

Jun 12 - Olympic Stadium, Baku - 14:00

Jun 12 - Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg - 20:00

WALES v SWITZERLAND

BELGIUM v RUSSIA

Jun 16 - Olympic Stadium, Baku - 20:00

Jun 16 - Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg - 14:00

TURKEY v WALES

FINLAND v RUSSIA

Jun 16 - Stadio Olimpico, Rome - 20:00

Jun 17 - Parken Stadium, Copenhagen - 17:00

ITALY v SWITZERLAND

DENMARK v BELGIUM

Jun 20 - Olympic Stadium, Baku - 17:00

Jun 21 - Parken Stadium, Copenhagen - 20:00

SWITZERLAND v TURKEY

RUSSIA v DENMARK

Jun 20 - Stadio Olimpico, Rome - 17:00

Jun 21 - Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg - 20:00

ITALY v WALES

FINLAND v BELGIUM

GROUP C

GROUP D

Jun 13 - Arena Nationala, Bucharest - 17:00

Jun 13 - Wembley Stadium, London - 14:00

AUSTRIA v NORTH MACEDONIA

ENGLAND v CROATIA

Jun 13 - Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam - 20:00

Jun 14 - Hampden Park, Glasgow - 14:00

NETHERLANDS v UKRAINE

SCOTLAND v CZECH REPUBLIC

Jun 17 - Arena Nationala, Bucharest - 14:00

Jun 18 - Hampden Park, Glasgow - 17:00

UKRAINE v NORTH MACEDONIA

CROATIA v CZECH REPUBLIC

Jun 17 - Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam - 20:00

Jun 18 - Wembley Stadium, London - 20:00

NETHERLANDS v AUSTRIA

ENGLAND v SCOTLAND

Jun 21 - Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam - 17:00

Jun 22 - Hampden Park, Glasgow - 20:00

NORTH MACEDONIA v NETHERLANDS

CROATIA v SCOTLAND

Jun 21 - Arena Nationala, Bucharest - 17:00

Jun 22 - Wembley Stadium, London - 20:00

UKRAINE v AUSTRIA

CZECH REPUBLIC v ENGLAND

GROUP E

GROUP F

Jun 14 - Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg - 17:00

Jun 15 - Puskás Aréna, Budapest - 17:00

POLAND v SLOVAKIA

HUNGARY v PORTUGAL

Jun 14 - La Cartuja, Seville - 20:00

Jun 15 - Allianz Arena, Munich - 20:00

SPAIN v SWEDEN

FRANCE v GERMANY

Jun 18 - Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg - 14:00

Jun 19 - Puskás Aréna, Budapest - 14:00

SWEDEN v SLOVAKIA

HUNGARY v FRANCE

Jun 19 - La Cartuja, Seville - 20:00

Jun 19 - Allianz Arena, Munich - 17:00

SPAIN v POLAND

PORTUGAL v GERMANY

Jun 23 - La Cartuja, Seville - 17:00

Jun 23 - Puskás Aréna, Budapest - 20:00

SLOVAKIA v SPAIN

PORTUGAL v FRANCE

Jun 23 - Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg - 17:00

Jun 23 - Allianz Arena, Munich - 20:00

SWEDEN v POLAND

GERMANY v HUNGARY

ROUnD of 16 R16 Match 1: Jun 26 - Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam - 17:00

RUNNER-UP GROUP A

v

R16 Match 2: Jun 26 - Wembley Stadium, London - 20:00

RUNNER-UP GROUP B

WINNER GROUP A

R16 Match 3: Jun 27 - Puskás Aréna, Budapest - 17:00

WINNER GROUP C

v

3rd GROUP D/E/F

WINNER GROUP B

R16 Match 5: - Jun 28 - Parken Stadium, Copenhagen - 17:00

RUNNER-UP GROUP D

v

v

RUNNER-UP GROUP C

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3rd GROUP A/D/E/F

R16 Match 6: Jun 28 - Arena Nationala, Bucharest - 20:00

RUNNER-UP GROUP E

WINNER GROUP F

R16 Match 7: Jun 29 - Wembley Stadium, London - 17:00

WINNER GROUP D

v

R16 Match 4: Jun 27 - La Cartuja, Seville - 20:00

v

3rd GROUP A/B/C

R16 Match 8: Jun 29 - Hampden Park, Glasgow - 20:00

RUNNER-UP GROUP F

WINNER GROUP E

v

3rd GROUP A/B/C/D

QUARtER FInals QF Match 1: Jul 2 - Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg - 17:00

R16 MATCH 6 WINNER

v

QF Match 2: Jul 2 - Allianz Arena, Munich - 20:00

R16 MATCH 5 WINNER

R16 MATCH 4 WINNER

QF Match 3: Jul 3 - Olympic Stadium, Baku - 17:00

R16 MATCH 3 WINNER

v

v

R16 MATCH 2 WINNER

QF Match 4: Jul 3 - Stadio Olimpico, Rome - 20:00

R16 MATCH 1 WINNER

R16 MATCH 8 WINNER

v

R16 MATCH 7 WINNER

SEMI FInals Jul 7 - Wembley Stadium, London - 20:00

Jul 6 - Wembley Stadium, London - 20:00

QF MATCH 2 WINNER

v

QF MATCH 4 WINNERS

QF MATCH 1 WINNER

v

QF MATCH 3 WINNERS

EURO 2020 FINAL Jul 11 - Wembley Stadium, London - 20:00

SEMI FINAL 1 WINNER

v

SEMI FINAL 2 WINNER WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 5


HOME COMFORTS Jack Wright

@JackWright_BSB

Euro 2020 is the first-ever pan-European tournament, hosted by several nations to celebrate the competition’s 60th birthday. But with multiple hosts, time zones and cultures to cross, has any nation been given a helping hand in terms of rest and travel? And which sides faces the most arduous agenda?

This year, more so than any other, when selecting who you think will conquer Euro 2020, you should factor in much more than simply who has the best XI. The draw, and the route to the final could play a key role on deciding which captain will lift the Henri Delaunay Trophy. Nine host nations are set to feature in the European Championship’s first pan-continental event - Italy, Denmark, Russia, Netherlands, England, Scotland, Spain, Hungary and Germany will all be hosting group-stage games, whilst non-competing countries Azerbaijan and Romania are also entertaining Euro 2020 encounters. Moving forward, last-16 ties have been scheduled for the Netherlands, Romania, Hungary, Denmark, Scotland, Spain, and England, whilst Azerbaijan, Germany, Italy and Russia have been given the nod to accommodate quarter-final

contests. Wembley will then take over proceedings from the semi-final stage, as well as the showpiece final. In terms of rest and recuperation, there are 15 days between teams competing in the opening last-16 matches and a potential place in the final, whilst those competing in the final round of Last 16 fixtures will have a threeday turnaround deficit should they progress to the competition’s curtain-closer. So, with this in mind I am going to take an unbiased view at each of the groups, completely disregarding team strength, and instead look at the unquantifiable such as schedule, paths to the final, rest days, travel from gameto- game, and any other factor that could impact upon a team’s potential to progress in order to find us an edge outside of the ordinary.

GROUP A

GROUP B

Rome (Italy) and Baku (Azerbaijan) are the dual host cities for Group A. The Italians therefore have a massive advantage in this pool, playing all three games at their Stadio Olimpico base, including opening the tournament against Turkey on 11th June.

Copenhagen (Denmark) and St Petersburg (Russia) take hosting duties in Group B with the Danes enjoying home advantage in all three group games. Kasper Hjulmand’s men have only a slight inconvenience in terms of schedule – the Red-Whites must make-do with one day’s less rest when facing Russia in the final match-up in the pool.

However, that advantage is raised further by the fact that their next two fixtures come up against Switzerland and Wales, nations that will have had to fly to Baku and back for their own group games. After the opener, Roberto Mancini’s men have a five-day break before taking on the Swiss, who not only have the five-hour flight to contend with, but also have one day less to prepare having faced Wales 24 hours later. The Azzurri conclude against Wales, who after two games in Baku, make the journey to Rome, although both sides have a three-day window in between. The biggest losers in the group are undoubtedly Switzerland, as Die Nati must make the five-hour flight for each of their outings. The Swiss start in Baku with Wales, travel back to Rome to face Italy, before returning to Azerbaijan to close their group campaign with Turkey.

One of the pre-tournament favourites, Belgium, have the toughest hurdles to overcome in Group B. Roberto Martinez’s troops take on Russia in St Petersburg before a fourhour flight to Copenhagen to face Denmark, and concluding with Finland back in St Petersburg. The Finns, meanwhile, will boast an extra day’s rest and will be based in Russia ahead of facing Belgium. Talking of Russia, the Sbornya meet both Belgium and neighbours Finland on home soil ahead of the crunch clash with Denmark in Copenhagen.

GROUP C Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Bucharest (Romania) are the venues for Group C. The Dutch therefore enjoy home advantage in all three group games, whilst their three pool rivals will face-off against each on neutral territory when not meeting the Oranje. The flight between the Netherlands and Romania is just short of three hours with both North Macedonia and Ukraine having to make that trip once. However, it is Austria that have two flights to make with their opening and closing contests in Bucharest, sandwiching the game against the Netherlands in Amsterdam in between. With all the games in this group being played on the same day there is no rest day advantage, although of course those teams having to fly between games will be at a disadvantage to those with successive games in the same country.

6 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


GROUP D

GROUP F

Group D’s settings of London (England) and Glasgow (Scotland) account for the shortest distance between split hosts, with just a 90-minute flight separating the British bases.

Group F’s action will take place in Budapest (Hungary) and Munich (Germany).

England will enjoy home advantage for all three games and also benefit from an extra rest day before taking on Scotland at Wembley in the middle match. Scotland, whilst playing their opener with Czech Republic and closing clash with Croatia at Hampden Park, will be travelling before and after the match-up with the auld enemy.

All three of Germany’s group games will be played in Munich, including their final round showdown with Hungary, whilst Budapest hosts the remaining three fixtures.

It means Croatia and Czech Republic must navigate away games with two host nations. Croatia travel from London to Glasgow to take on the Czechs but will have the perk of an extra day of recovery and so shade advantage between the two given the short distances involved. The interesting element here is, the winner of Group D takes on the runner-up of Group F in the last-16. Group F is the fabled ‘Group of Death’ and houses well- fancied trio France, Germany and Portugal. Even so, that fixture is scheduled for Wembley, potentially giving England home advantage again should they safely navigate their way to top pool honours.

GROUP E Seville (Spain) and St Petersburg (Russia) share duties in Group E, a five-hour flight with possibly quite contrasting climates and weather conditions. Temperatures in Seville for a 18:00 kick-off could well touch 30ºC whereas summer in St Petersburg can vary between 11ºC and 30ºC. Spain certainly hold the aces in Group E with all three of La Roja’s games taking place in Andalusia. Accustomed to the warm weather and with no group-stage travel required, Luis Enrique’s outfit have a reasonable advantage on their side. Poland fans will be disappointed with the unenviable schedule facing Robert Lewandowski and co. The White-Reds start their campaign in Russia, before facing Spain in Seville, and then heading back to St Petersburg to meet Sweden, with the Scandinavians enjoying the benefit of an extra break between game two and three. Outsiders Slovakia must acclimatise for the furnace of Seville and a 18:00 start against Spain in the final round of action, although the Falcons will relish the cooler temperatures of Russia when meeting Sweden and Poland in earlier action.

Travel time of just over one hour shouldn’t inconvenience Portugal too much, although the defending champions won’t be able to settle with their opening and closing games in Budapest, and having to commute to Munich in between. The only completely neutral fixture could be a crucial last game matchup between France and Portugal in Budapest – both sides boast the same three-day gap between games but Fernando Santos’ side must overcome the extra travel inconvenience.

THE VERDICT England are the nation that can guarantee the greatest advantage throughout the tournament, should they win Group D. However, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain will all benefit from all three of their group games taking place on home soil. Hungary, Russia, and Scotland also boast two of their pool matches in front of home supporters.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 7


9

Nine (45%) of Wales’ 21 competitive games since September 2018 have featured a maximum of one goal.

GROUP A 11

Turkey v Italy

JUn

Stadio Olimpico, Rome | 20:00

16

Turkey v Wales

JUn

Olympic Stadium, Baku | 15:00

20

Switzerland v Turkey

JUn

Olympic Stadium, Baku | 17:00

12

Wales v Switzerland

JUn

Olympic Stadium, Baku | 14:00

16

Italy v Switzerland

JUn

Stadio Olimpico, Rome | 20:00

20

Italy v Wales

JUn

Stadio Olimpico, Rome | 17:00

8 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


GROUP A

ITALY | SWITZERLAND | TURKEY | WALES

ITALY

SWITZERLAND

TURKEY

WALES

Playing all their Group A games in Rome is an obvious benefit for Italy, who are third favourites in the betting to reach the quarter-finals yet sixth in the Outright Winner market.

Despite enduring a sevengame winless streak only last year, Switzerland are priced up as second favourites to qualify from Group A. Die Nati do appear overrated when you consider a fair few of their likely starting XI are seriously lacking match fitness.

Turkey look to boast a pleasant degree of balance in their squad. Individuals in defence are ever-improving and have shown themselves to be capable of shutting out teams on par with their Group A opponents.

Managerial issues won’t have helped preparations with Wales but there’s clearly a strong bond between players, and the emotional foundations laid down from 2016 may inspire this younger squad as they aim to upset their outsider tag.

The Azzurri have shown to be more than capable against the lesser lights but there’s still a fear they could be dominated by a more physical midfield and pacey attack later on in the tournament.

The Swiss look to have the least individual spark and attacking quality compared to pool rivals and their change in style could actually play into opposition hands this summer.

With Senol Gunes’ ability to improve youngsters and willingness to let his attacking players showcase their flair, it could be a healthy cocktail for the Crescent Stars coming into this summer’s tournament.

KEY MATCH: TURKEY v WALES | CZECH REPUBLIC | SCOTLAND Exclude Italy and you could argue all three fixtures taking place in Baku involving Switzerland, Wales and Turkey will be key. But the matchday two meeting between Turkey and Wales already appears vital in deciding who will ultimately end up progressing to the last-16. Both sides are ranked as outsiders in their respective match-ups with Italy and Switzerland in the

Swift counter attacks are no doubt going to be key and greater depth in the final third make this Dragons side a serious candidate to at least reach the last-16.

NEED TO KNOW n Over the last two Euros, only Germany (2012) have managed to win all three group games

opening round, so if the odds and probabilities are correct, there will be plenty riding on this one.

n Switzerland face trips between Baku and Rome between all three of their Group A games.

The draw is chalked up as short as 2/1 - highlighting how tight a tussle it could be – and an individual piece of brilliance from a Gareth Bale or Hakan Calhanoglu could prove the difference in what should be a nervy affair.

n No Euro 2020 team managed more shots per-game in competitive matches since the World Cup than Italy’s 17.78.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT It’s far from a ‘Group of Death’ but there are no obvious whipping boys in Group A, with a relatively tight group boasting stronger collective defences than attacks. Italy are fair favourites but are possibly a touch short at 8/13 (SkyBet) to finish top of tree. The Azzurri could be guaranteed to progress after

the first two fixtures and then motivation and squad rotation becomes questionable. The market has favoured Switzerland (4/7 SkyBet) over Turkey (4/6 Boylesports) To Qualify, although Die Nati look to have the toughest schedule in terms of travel and could represent a fair opportunity to lay. However, it could be

wise to hold off supporting Turkey to progress until after their opening game with Italy, where an inflated price is possible thereafter. PREDICTED FINISH

3

ITALY TURKEY WALES

4

SWITZERLAND

1 2

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 9


GROUP A

ITALY | SWITZERLAND | TURKEY | WALES

ITALY since Roberto Mancini took on the coaching gig, immeasurable improvements have followed It’s been a tale of gross underachievement for Italy on the international circuit since the Azzurri’s famous World Cup triumph in 2006. Eliminated in the group-stage in South Africa four years later, Italy fell at the first hurdle again in 2014 before the national embarrassment of failing to even qualify for Russia in 2018. But an injection of quality and dynamism in forward areas, a shift to a more modern playing style, and a winning mentality imposed following a significant change in the dugout, there’s now hope the 2020 renewal will give the nation an opportunity to rediscover their old magic in tournament football. IMPRESSIVE Italy’s rise from the rubble has taken longer than many

expected but it’s fair to say that since Roberto Mancini took on the coaching gig, immeasurable improvements have followed. The former Inter Milan and Manchester City supremo has overseen an impressive W21-D7-L2 record and the Azzurri are to be feared by the continental elite. A solid defensive platform has given the group the foundations to work from, but it’s been far from Catenaccio. The Azzurri have given up just 0.35 goals per-game in competitive outings since September 2018, silencing 15 of their 23 opponents, yet Mancini’s men have plundered an impressive 2.26 goals-pergame themselves in the same sample. Coming into the competition, the Italians also benefit

10 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

ROBERTO MANCINI ROBERTO MANCINI has gained many plaudits for his side’s consistency and ability to dominate games since he arrived in the role in May 2018. Having transformed the team’s fortunes, the 56-yearold signed a fresh contract until after the 2026 World Cup.

from home advantage, with all three of the Azzurri’s Group A games taking place in Rome, whereas pool opponents Turkey, Wales and Switzerland will be required to jet between the Eternal City and Baku, a far from ideal predicament for muchneeded rest, recuperation and preparation. The 5,000 mile round trip from Rome to Baku runs across two time zones – few nations have as far to travel between group-stage games - and possible fatigue could play a part in Italy’s favour aiding their chances of progression. DICTATE One major talking point is the fitness of midfield dynamo Marco Verratti. There’s no disputing the quality of the PSG man, but the experienced 28-year-old’s terrible injury record is of concern. Unlikely to be fit enough to feature before the knockout stages, the impressive Manuel Locatelli, who has shone for Sassuolo this term, is a capable deputy. The all-action midfielder has an array of talents, both offensively and defensively, and could be a starter for the foreseeable future. His


qualities should supplement that of Jorginho who will drop between the centre backs and dictate play from deep, as well as Nicolo Barella, who will venture forward and help create. HIGH PRESSING Elsewhere, Mancini has relied on his full-backs to overload attacks against the lesser lights and it has worked a treat. However, don’t expect the same level of high pressing from what is likely to be Emerson Palmieri and Alessandro Florenzi in the big games. Meanwhile, Giovanni Di Lorenzo‘s calming influence can be called upon in key games. The leadership qualities of Juventus duo Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci could

be key, especially should Verratti miss out. For what they boast in terms of knowledge, positional qualities and sheer experience, the veteran pair may now lack in pace. Nevertheless, the duo will relish the battle with Turkey’s Burak Yilmaz in the opener but could find things tough against the speed Wales possess in forward areas. Juventus have been far from watertight at the back this season and the pair could be caught out if asked to cover out wide for wandering wingbacks further up the field. If Mancini’s troops can sustain their upward trajectory, the Azzurri could be capable of springing a surprise. As the old saying goes, never rule out the Italians.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Without a real targetman available, Italy have adapted to a more possession-focused approach that relies on clever movement. Gone are the days of Luca Toni or Graziano Pelle winning aerial duels. It’s a much more fluid and dangerous frontline com-

pared to Azzurri sides of the past. Joining Ciro Immobile could be Sassuolo attacker Domenico Berardi, Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne, Torino’s Andrea Bellotti or Juventus’ Federico Chiesa, all of whom will be vying for places in what is likely to be a modern 4-3-3 formation.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP CIRO IMMOBILE Lazio frontman CIRO IMMOBILE is expected to lead the line for Italy and club coach Simone Inzaghi has shown the best way to maximise his output in Serie A. The challenge for Roberto Mancini is to find a way of replicating that form on the international circuit. Few can challenge Immobile’s 0.70 goals per-game record in Serie A since 2016 and the 31-year-old striker will be relishing games taking place at his Rome base. Immobile is likely to be on

DID YOU KNOW?

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT A reasonable 11/1 (Bet365) is available on Roberto Mancini’s men conquering all before them this summer, and given all the Azzurri’s group games are on home soil, you’d expect to see the four-time world champions in the last-16, at the very least. Should Italy take Group A honours, a likely last 16 tie

with Ukraine, Austria or North Macedonia could be on the cards. Therefore, a place in the quarter-finals appears plausible and 4/6 (Bet365) quotes on the Azzurri reaching the lasteight is well worth a poke. Thereafter, a hypothetical face-off with Belgium could prove a far trickier test.

spot-kick duty and is the team’s most central option, making the 2/1 (Unibet) on Top Italy Goalscorer appealing. Alternative options include 20/1 in the main Top Goalscorer market, the shortest price of any Italian player this summer.

WLB NAP TO REACH THE QUARTER FINALS 4/6 BET365 NEXT BEST CIRO IMMOBILE TO BE TOP ITALY SCORER (2/1 UNIBET)

n Under Roberto Mancini, Italy posted a record for most wins in a calendar year (10). n Roberto Mancini boasts the best win ratio of any Italy coach to take charge of 20+ games (70%). n Italy won all 10 games during Euro 2020 qualifying.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 11


GROUP A

ITALY | SWITZERLAND | TURKEY | WALES

SWITZERLAND Despite their proposed change in approach, it’s still hard to see too many goals in matches featuring Switzerland. The European Championships have not been kind to Switzerland. Despite being regulars at major tournaments this millennium – Die Nati have qualified for every summer showpiece bar Euro 2012 since 2004 – the only time in which the landlocked nation progressed past the pool stage at the Euros was 2016.

industry) are no longer required with emerging alternatives making their mark.

Even then, the Swiss were dumped out in the last-16, a hurdle the Rossocrociati have failed to pass in any major competition since the 1954 World Cup.

INTENSITY Bosnian-born boss Vladimir Petkovic has brought in reinforcements in the form of Dennis Zakaria, Djibril Sow and Kevin M’babu. The trio have brought the average age down, and provided their own source of impetus and intensity, whilst mainstays Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri remain key components.

UNSPECTACULAR Traditionally consistent, if unspectacular, there’s more verve and energy in the 2021 outfit compared to previous incarnations. The likes of Valon Behrami, Blerim Dzemali and Stefan Lichtsteiner (who has retired into the watchmaking

Xhaka and Shaqiri were embroiled in a controversial incident in a crucial group game against Serbia during the 2018 World Cup campaign. The duo celebrated Switzerland’s goals by mimicking the eagle on the Albanian flag, causing

12 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

VLADIMIR PETKOVIC VLADIMIR PETKOVIC was handed a new contract after a slightly underwhelming 2018 World Cup despite some media and fan pressure to be dismissed. The 57-year-old is your typical safe pair of hands and regularly hit par in his tenure as first-team boss. But his choice to change style could take time to embed.

uproar in Belgrade, as well as frustration within the Swiss set-up. IDENTITY The episode sparked a strong debate in Switzerland over the cultural identity of Die Nati. It’s long been a country willing to accept immigration and that’s been reflected in their current roster with a handful of players from the former Yugoslav republic, as well as Yvon M’vogo and Breel Embolo from Cameroon. Petkovic’s heritage, and his ability to relate strongly with his players on such issues, has been a factor in his semisuccessful reign, which is now into his seventh year with the national team. POSSESSION Talking of Petkovic, the multilingual boss has looked to alter the style of play adopted by his side. Once firmly defence-focused, relatively happy to concede the ball and hold a rigid shape, Switzerland now prefer to play a more possession-based game, beginning at the back. The alterations make sense when you view the players available. In goal, Yann Sommer is one of the best ball-playing keepers in the


Bundesliga and can feel comfortable playing it out to Gladbach team-mate Nico Elvedi, or Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji, both of whom boast a 90%+ pass completion rate. LACK OF CRAFT It’s at the top of the pitch where the problems could creep in. It’s all well and good knocking it around the defence and midfield but opponents Wales and Turkey will be happy to let Die Nati dominate the ball given the Swiss’ lack of real craft and quality finishing in the final third. A long-standing issue that’s plagued Switzerland for years, Haris Seferovic is a

great option as a striker to play off, but there’s few options to fill the role next to the central forward, and no reliable goalscorer. Breel Embolo hasn’t had much luck with injuries, and even when fit struggles to find the net, averaging just 0.18 goals pergame over the course of his career. Despite their proposed change in approach, it’s still hard to see too many goals in matches featuring Switzerland. Punters may be looking to the unders markets when Die Nati are involved. And there’s certainly enough doubts to put you off 4/7 (SkyBet) quotes on Petkovic’s posse to qualify from a tricky pool.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Expect to see a back-five favoured with Switzerland preferring a 5-2-2-1 formation with the width coming from the full-backs. It wouldn’t surprise to see one of the three centre-halves step out with

DID YOU KNOW? n Switzerland have not reached a quarter-final of a major tournament since the 1954 World Cup, which they hosted. n Over half of Switzerland’s goals in Euro 2020 qualifying game against minnows Gibraltar. n Since the 1994 World Cup, Switzerland have scored just one goal in five knockout games at major tournaments.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT It’s difficult to see where the goals are going to come from in this Switzerland side, especially against three of the best defences in qualifying. Compared to their group rivals, Die Nati have also leaked the most goals in competitive games since the 2018 World Cup (1.10 goals per-game). To make matters worse, the Swiss schedule is arguably the worst of all four Group A nations. Vladimir Petkovic’s outfit must make the long trip from Baku to Rome and

back again between each of their pool fixtures. Switzerland’s possession-centric style could prove ineffectual in both games in Baku as both Wales and Turkey will be happy to counter. With optimism back home in short supply, it’s difficult to see Die Nati pulling up any trees and the 5/4 for an early exit looks a generous price, as well as the unenviable tag of being the competition’s lowest goalscorers at a chunky 20/1.

WLB NAP SWITZERLAND NOT TO QUALIFY FROM GROUP A 5/4 BET365 NEXT BEST TO BE THE LOWEST SCORING TEAM (20/1 BET365)

the ball into midfield as Die Nati look to progress through the thirds. Xherdan Shaqiri and Breel Embolo will look to feed off Haris Seferovic’s strong hold up play, whilst Kevin M’babu will be a key ball carrier down the right.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP NO GOALSCORER

Switzerland don’t boast a standout option in the Top Goalscorer stakes, and it might only be one goal that seals it given the tight defences that stand in their Group A way. Haris Seferovic is more of a link man, whereas Xherdan Shaqiri looks short enough at 6/1 given he’s scored just twice since the start of last season, and is short on match fitness. Perhaps the value could be with backing NO GOALSCORER at a big 25/1 (BetVictor). After all, Die Nati are coming up against a trio of sides that conceded a combined 13 goals in 24 games during the preliminaries.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 13


GROUP A

ITALY | SWITZERLAND | TURKEY | WALES

TURKEY fans are optimistic about the Crescent Stars’ wellbalanced squad again outperforming their odds 2002 was a memorable year for the Turkey national team as the Crescent Stars unexpectedly reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. The manager back then was a certain Senol Gunes, and the highly respected 68-yearold has returned to try and emulate that success with the 2021 vintage. UNFANCIED In the intervening 19 years, Turkey have failed to return to the World Cup stage but can boast a run to the semi-finals of Euro 2008, another occasion where the unfancied outfit exceeded pre-tournament expectations. Gunes has spoken about his willingness to blood youngsters alongside some of the more senior players, such as Burak Yilmaz and Hakan Calhanoglu, and fans are optimistic about the Crescent

Stars’ well-balanced squad again outperforming their odds this summer. Whilst the native league has seen a steady decline in the past decade, there are still plenty of players who have developed in top European leagues. ELITE Centre-halves Caglar Soyuncu, Ozan Kabak and Mehdi Demiral are all under the age of 25 yet have experience at the elite level, whilst right-back Zeki Celik has arguably been the best in Ligue 1 in his position this season. The defensive resolve shown by Turkey during their qualifying campaign was the team’s standout trait. Only Belgium could match the Crescent Stars’ feat of conceding just three goals in the preliminaries – none

14 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

SENOL GUNES SENOL GUNES will be one of the most experienced gaffers at the tournament. The 68-year-old former goalkeeper has coached for over 30 years and has plenty of goodwill in his homeland after the country’s 2002 heroics. Gunes won FIFA Coach of the Year following the 2002 World Cup exploits but he’s far from yesterday’s man having guided Besiktas to back-to-back domestic titles as recently as 2017.

of which arrived from open play – a rearguard return that earned plenty of plaudits. Gunes, a goalkeeper with Trabzonspor for 15 years during his playing days, is likely to go with current Trabzon shot-stopper Ugurcan Cakir between the sticks. The 25-year-old gave up just 37 goals in 40 Super Lig games this term, a record bettered only by Fernando Muslera of Galatasaray. POROSITY In a very competitive group, Turkey’s porosity at the back could prove vital. However, Gunes’ group have plenty of difference makers at the top end of the pitch too that will require attention, particularly veteran striker Burak Yilmaz. Enjoying an Indian summer in France with champions Lille, the former Besiktas man has led the line fervently for Les Dogues on their ascension to title honours. Even at 35, the side’s skipper looks physically in the shape of his life, is happy doing the dirty work, as well as chiming in with crucial goals. Yilmaz has also linked up well with Lille team-mate Yusuf Yazici when called upon, and their burgeoning partnership


is worth keeping an eye on this summer. SPECTACULAR Elsewhere, there will be creative reliance on Milan star Hakan Calhanoglu. The former Hamburg schemer accounted for 18 goal contributions in Serie A last season and the set-piece specialist is

renowned for the spectacular.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Punters may well be advised to look towards Calhanoglu in the ‘To Score From Outside The Box’ market, and with good reason. There’s few who can come close to his quality from distance, deadball delivery, and eye for a defensive-splitting pass.

Expect to see a narrow 4-2-3-1 formation employed with Hakan Calhanoglu, Yusuf Yazici and Fortuna Dusseldorf attacker Kenan Karaman interchanging behind central striker Burak Yilmaz. There’s not a great deal of natural width in the Turkish side and they’ll be hoping Cengiz Under

DID YOU KNOW? n Turkish playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu created more chances than any other player across the top five European leagues this season (98). n Turkey kept eight clean sheets and conceded just three goals in Euro 2020 qualification, none of which arrived from open play. n Crescent Stars captain Burak Yilmaz ended the campaign with eight goals in his last nine appearances for Lille.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT There’s an argument that Turkey have the better of the schedule over Wales and Switzerland. The Crescent Stars take part in the tournament’s curtain-raiser against Italy in Rome but then have a five-day break until facing Wales in Baku, before a potentially decisive dust-up with Switzerland five days following. Given their more favourable agenda, Turkey’s qualification price of 4/6

(Boylesports) could well be of interest, especially so with the potential of a third-place finish grasping a berth in the last-16. There’s also the prospect for the pool runners-up to enjoy a favourable last-16 and quarter-final tie in the bottom half of the knockout draw. With Senol Gunes already boasting course and distance form, a repeat of their semifinal achievements in 2002 is possible and the 11/1 (Sporting Index) shout is worth a shot.

WLB NAP TURKEY TO QUALIFY FROM GROUP A 4/6 BOYLESPORTS

NEXT BEST TURKEY TO REACH THE SEMI-FINALS (11/1 SPORTING INDEX)

recovers from a hip injury in time to add some pace and directness to the frontline. Ozan Tufan and Okay Yokuslu should provide on-the-ball quality and ferocity in equal measure in front of the defence. Expect a compact set-up off the ball.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP BURAK YILMAZ

One of the continental stories of the season, BURAK YILMAZ was brought in on a free transfer by recruitment guru Luis Campos at Lille. The veteran has been a shining star in one of the upsets of the campaign as Les Dogues broke PSG’s title monopoly. Yilmaz notched 18 goals in just 23 starts for his club and bagged a hat-trick for Turkey in a recent 4-2 success over Netherlands. The 35-year-old has the composure and capability to score a wide variety of goals and will also be given the responsibility from the penalty spot. With that in mind, the 7/4 (BetVictor) for Yilmaz to be Top Turkey Goalscorer is a delight that holds plenty of appeal.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 15


GROUP A

ITALY | SWITZERLAND | TURKEY | WALES

WALES Cymru are blooding some exciting youngsters into their ranks and look poised to make another continental splash Euro 2016 will live long in the memory of Welsh fans. An emotional rollercoaster, the 100/1 debutants beat Belgium en-route to a memorable semi-final appearance, only to be narrowly edged out by eventual winners Portugal. That Dragons outfit was blessed with experience and knowhow - five years on from their unforgettable French experience, Cymru are blooding some exciting youngsters into their ranks and look poised to make another continental splash.

time Champions League winner in your ranks, it naturally drags opposition players towards him in order to nullify his threat. However, that in turn gives you an opportunity to maximise the space vacated by opponents and make no mistake about it, there’s alternative options and quality in this Wales side.

STAR ATTRACTION It goes without saying that Gareth Bale remains the side’s star attraction despite rarely playing club football in the past couple of years.

FITNESS WORRY Aaron Ramsey has only featured in three of the Dragons’ past 23 outings, and despite his obvious quality on the ball and penchant for popping up late in the box, fitness issues have to be a worry heading into the tournament. The Juventus man could be deployed in a deeper role given the lack of midfielders available.

When you have a standout game-changer like the four-

Ramsey could be partnered by Ethan Ampadu, a bright

16 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

ROBERT PAGE Former Port Vale and Northampton manager and Wales U21 coach since 2017, ROBERT PAGE took caretaker charge of the side last November with first-team boss Ryan Giggs embroiled in an untimely, delicate legal case. The squad at Page’s disposal matches well with his managerial style; the EFL journeyman likes to play with advanced wing backs, one schemer, and pace at the top end of the pitch.

spark in a poor Sheffield United side, ranking second for the Blades on WhoScored. com’s rating system. He benefits from being around a higher quality of player and has been a major reason why Wales have conceded just 0.75 competitive goals pergame since the summer of 2018. PROTECTION Despite no standout centrehalves, the trio of Chris Mepham, Joe Rodon and Ben Davies complement each other in a back-three, which provides greater protection to goalkeeper Danny Ward who has seemingly taken the reigns from Wayne Hennessey in goal. Right-back Connor Roberts has excelled with Swansea but has played an awful lot of football and will have less rest with play-off commitments. Meanwhile, Neco Williams and Rhys Norrington-Davies will compete for the left-back berth, probably the weakest area in the squad. Caretaker manager Rob Page does have a few options at the top of the pitch. Bale can be played through the middle, or on either side, but Cardiff striker Kieffer Moore looks likely to start as the team’s


target man to play off. Harry Wilson, Dan James and David Brooks will all fancy their chances of also making an impact. FLUID It would not be a surprise to see Moore - who bagged 20 for the Bluebirds in the Championship this term - play against Switzerland and Turkey, but a more fluid front three of Bale, James and Wilson in operation in Rome

against Italy as Wales look to play firmly on the counter.

TEAM BRIEFING

Expect encounters featuring the Dragons to be played to the tightest of margins - no side at the tournament saw competitive matches feature fewer goals per-game than Wales’ overall tally of 2.00. But Cymru’s miserly defensive numbers do give the group hopes of navigating their way out of an ultra-competitive section.

Wales’ key focus will be on structure and solidity off the ball. The back three allow little in terms of space for opponents, especially with a double defensive pivot lining up in front. The full-backs will aggressively engage when there’s long balls out to the flanks.

DID YOU KNOW? n No team scored fewer goals than Wales during Euro 2020 qualification (10). n Since the 2018 World Cup, Wales’ competitive contests have averaged 5.50 cards pergame, the most of any side at the tournament during that period. n Gareth Bale is Wales’ all-time leading goalscorer with 33 from 90 international appearances.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT It’s much more about the collective than individuals in this Wales team. The Dragons will prove tough to break down and have arguably some of the best counter-attackers in the group, an ideal recipe for tournament football, especially when you’re considered outsiders. Wales will be hoping that Italy boast a perfect points haul before they meet in Rome in the final Group A fixture, and that could prove to be the telling difference in the battle to progress. Tight and low-scoring affairs are anticipated against Turkey and Switzerland during the

side’s opening encounters in Baku. Match prices project Wales to collect an Expected Points (xP) return of 2.78, with only a 1.10 point differential between themselves, Turkey and Switzerland. Compare that to the other five groups and it’s the tightest pool by some margin. Most bookmakers go 4/5 on the Dragons to qualify but Spreadex are the only operator to offer evens, and that appears a touch disrespectful. With similar defensive records as their rivals, it’s all about

the difference-makers and Wales certainly boast the class required to reach the last-16.

WLB NAP WALES TO QUALIFY FROM GROUP A 1/1 SPREADEX

NEXT BEST WALES’ EXACT POINTS TOTAL – 4 (7/2 BET365)

Gareth Bale could take on more creative than conversion duties and has supplied plenty during the current regime. Meanwhile, Kieffer Moore will look for that front post run whenever the ball goes wide with the side’s opposing wingers attacking the back post.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP KIEFFER MOORE

It’s little surprise that Gareth Bale takes most out of the market here but that means there’s some nice alternative prices. KIEFFER MOORE has established himself as the best true number nine for the Dragons and has felt right at home plying his trade in the Welsh capital. Twenty Championship league goals was an admirable effort from the big man in his debut campaign with the Bluebirds. He may not start every game but is likely to be involved throughout considering Wales’ meagre goal output. Nevertheless, It may still make sense to take the 8/1 (Bet365) quotes on Moore to top score for Wales considering he boasts the most goals in the squad this season.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 17


STAT PACK

GROUP a All the stats you need to compare each team in the group from their Euro 2020 & Nations League qualifying campaigns

Matches Played

ITALY

SWITZERLAND

TURKEY

WALES

FIFA Ranking: 7

FIFA Ranking: 13

FIFA Ranking: 29

FIFA Ranking: 17

23

21

23

20

W17-D5-L1

W10-D6-L5

W11-D6-L6

W12-D3-L5

Goals Scored

2.26

2.10

1.65

1.25

Goals Conceded

0.35

1.10

1.00

0.75

Results

Goals Per-Game

2.61

3.19

2.65

2.00

0-0-Draw

9%

5%

9%

5%

Over 1.5 Goals

78%

76%

74%

55%

Over 2.5 Goals

35%

52%

43%

30%

Over 3.5 Goals

17%

38%

30%

15%

Both Teams To Score

30%

57%

39%

40%

Over 1.5 Team Goals

65%

48%

48%

25%

Failed To Score

13%

14%

26%

15%

Clean Sheets

65%

33%

43%

50%

Win and BTTS

17%

19%

13%

15%

Lose and BTTS

0%

14%

9%

15%

Win to Nil

57%

29%

35%

45%

Lose to Nil

4%

10%

17%

10%

Corners For

7.00

6.24

4.22

3.50

Corners Against

3.48

4.19

4.87

3.95

Total Corners

10.48

10.43

9.09

7.45

1.70

2.00

2.22

2.40

Cards For Cards Against

2.26

1.62

2.61

3.10

Total Cards

3.96

3.62

4.83

5.50

Booking Pts For

16.96

21.43

22.83

24.75

Booking Pts Against

24.57

16.90

28.04

34.75

Total Booking Pts

41.52

38.33

50.87

59.50

Shots For

17.78

16.29

12.65

10.90

Shots Against

7.78

10.19

10.70

8.75

Shot Ratio

70%

62%

54%

55%

Shots-on-Target For

6.13

5.90

5.17

4.45

Shots-on-Target Against

2.48

3.86

3.65

2.75

Shots-on-Target Ratio

71%

60%

59%

62%

xG For

2.18

2.03

1.38

1.21

xG Against

0.90

1.20

1.34

0.94

xG Ratio

71%

63%

51%

56%

Possession

64%

56%

57%

47%

Data includes each nation’s competitive games since the 2018 World Cup

18 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


AT A GLANCE % TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH

AVG. TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH 3.19

BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE

Italy

Italy

2.65

Switzerland

2.61

Switz

Switzerland

Turkey

Wales

Turkey

Turkey

Italy

% OVER 1.5 GOALS FOR 80

Wales

60

Wales 0

2.00

Goals per game

40 10 20

30 40

50 60

20

70 80

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

0 Over 1.5

Over 2.5

Over 3.5

Italy

AVG. CORNERS PER MATCH

Switz

Turkey

BTTS

Wales

AVG. BOOKINGS POINTS

10 8

60 50

6

40

Bookings Points For

4

30

21.43

2 0

20

22.83 Italy

Switz

Turkey

For

Against

Win to nil

% CLEAN SHEETS

16.96

24.75

Win & BTTS

10

Wales

0 Italy

AVG. SHOTS PER MATCH

Switz

Turkey

Italy

Wales

AVG. SHOTS CONCEDED PER MATCH

Switz

Turkey

Wales

EXPECTED GOALS (XG)

Italy

Italy

2.03 1.38

Switz

Switz

Turkey

Turkey

Wales

Wales

2.18

0

2

4

Shots

6

8

10

12

On Target

14

16

18

0

Scored

1.21

xG For 1.34

1.20

0.94

0.90

1

2

3

Shots

4

5

6

7

On Target

8

xG Against

9 10 11

Conceded

Italy

Switz

Turkey

Wales

AVG. POSSESSION Italy Switzerland Turkey Wales 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 19


17

17 (74%) of Belgium’s 23 competitive games since the 2018 World Cup have featured Over 2.5 Goals with 11 (48%) producing Over 3.5 Goals.

GROUP B 12

Denmark v Finland

JUn

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen | 17:00

16

Finland v Russia

JUn

Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg | 14:00

21

Russia v Denmark

JUn

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen | 20:00

12

Belgium v Russia

JUn

Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg | 20:00

17

Denmark v Belgium

JUn

Parken Stadium, Copenhagen | 17:00

21

Finland v Belgium

JUn

Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg | 20:00

20 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


GROUP B

BELGIUM | DENMARK | FINLAND | RUSSIA

BELGIUM

DENMARK

Belgium re-wrote the history books with a flawless qualification campaign and have set their sights on a serious tilt at Euro 2020 glory. With forward-thinking players in their prime and an ageing defence, this feels like the last chance saloon for the country’s golden generation.

Unfashionable might be Denmark’s middle name on the international stage but the current crop have to be considered as lively outsiders.

Despite facing away trips to Denmark and Russia, the Red Devils have beaten both group rivals home and away since 2019 and appear fair favourites to finish top of the Group B tree.

The efficient and effective Red-White can make home advantage pay by progressing to the knockout stages should they avoid a banana skin match-up with Finland first up.

FINLAND

Industrious, organised and underpinned by dogged defensive resilience, cautious optimism is building around Finland’s challenge back home. Unlikely to give any side a free pass to the last-16, the Eagle-Owls have the potential to bloody the nose of a complacent foe with head coach Markku Kanerva expecting his debutant side to put up stiff resistance.

KEY MATCH: Finland vs Russia Finland and Russia share a 1,340km border but the duo have met on just four occasions since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. All four contests saw the Sbornaya take top honours but none of those encounters come close to the importance of their meeting in the middle match of Group B. As

well

as

national

pride,

RUSSIA

With only eight nations exiting Euro 2020 at the first hurdle, Russia will expect to reach the knockout stages this summer but recreating the 2018 magic looks beyond the current crop of Sbornaya stars. Progress is likely to hinge on the middle match with minnows Finland in St Petersburg with the hosts hopeful home support proves the deciding factor.

NEED TO KNOW

potential progression to the knockout stage could be on the line when the two teams lock horns in St Petersburg, a city less than 200 km from the Finnish frontier.

n Denmark boast the best defensive record of all qualifying nations in competitive contests since September 2018, shipping just 0.67 goals per-game. n Finland have amassed 13 (54%) clean sheets across their last 24 competitive matches.

Russia are warm favourites but Finland will prove awkward opposition and can be inspired by the fact that all five debutants at Euro 2016 enjoyed at least one victory during the group-stage.

n Russia have taken part in six Euro finals since the break-up of the Soviet Union but have made it past the group-stage only once.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Having hosed up home and away against their main group rivals in recent seasons, Belgium are understandable Group B market leaders. The Red Devils have tabled 20 triumphs in 23 com-

petitive games since taking bronze at the 2018 World Cup and will take all the beating despite facing two away group ties. Denmark’s obdurate ability, as well as home advantage, make the Red-White difficult to dismiss, leaving neighbours Finland and Russia to scrap it out for third place in the pool.

With St Petersburg hosting the pivotal showdown, the Sbornaya are favoured to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. PREDICTED FINISH

3

BELGIUM DENMARK RUSSIA

4

FINLAND

1 2

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 21


GROUP B

BELGIUM | DENMARK | FINLAND | RUSSIA

BELGIUM It’s easy to see why there is such optimism surrounding the third favourites in the outright market If Euro 2020 was determined by raw numbers and statistics, you’d be hard pressed to deny Belgium top honours. Ranked number one in FIFA’s World Rankings since September 2018, the Red Devils demolished all before them during qualification, triumphing in all 10 preliminaries, scoring 40 goals en-route and producing a phenomenal +37 goal difference. Since taking bronze at the 2018 World Cup, Roberto Martinez’s men have tabled 20 victories from 23 competitive contests, whilst averaging 3.35 goals per-game, as well as booking their place in the finals of the 2021 UEFA Nations League. OPTIMISM It’s easy to see why there is such optimism surrounding

the third favourites in the outright market. No longer dark horses on the international stage, Belgium deserve their place amongst European football’s powerhouses, yet the aforementioned qualification figures can be taken lightly considering the kind opposition overcome. The Red Devils were housed alongside minnows San Marino, Cyprus, and Kazakhstan, whilst Scotland and Russia were waning. MATURED So how do we assess the current crop? Undoubtedly, Belgium have sufficiently matured over the past decade to present themselves as major contenders for silverware this summer. Older, wiser but also more fragile and there are

22 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

ROBERTO MARTINEZ After spells in the Premier League with Wigan and Everton, including a shock FA Cup success with the Latics, ROBERTO MARTINEZ was selected to succeed Marc Wilmots in August 2016. The Spaniard won over sceptics with his modern approach and attention to detail, has taken a keen interest in grassroots development and even adopted the role of federation technical director following the 2018 World Cup.

still issues to be ironed out if the country’s much-vaunted golden generation is to sign off in style. AVERAGE An ageing defence is the chief cause for concern amongst Belgium backers. Vincent Kompany has retired, 33-yearold Jan Vertonghen has slowed down since moving to Benfica, 35-year-old Thomas Vermaelen plays his club football in Japan and 32-yearold Toby Alderweireld has declined. Jason Denayer and Dedryck Boyata are average alternatives. ATTACKING Considering Martinez’s fabled attacking instincts - a tactic that rarely works on the cautious international stage – protecting such deficiencies is key. However, with defensive shield Axel Witsel facing a race against time to be fit, Belgium may turn to Leander Dendoncker or Youri Tielemans to fill the void, neither of whom have convinced in previous opportunities. Further forward, Eden Hazard hasn’t played for the national side since November 2019 due to persistent injuries, and there is no like-for-like replacement for the side’s


skipper. Indeed, the back-up cast isn’t quite as formidable as the 2018 contingent, even if lowly Belarus were bashed 8-0 by Belgium’s B-team during the World Cup qualifiers. INCONVENIENCE Despite the aforementioned fears, the flat-track bullies have been handed a kind group alongside Denmark, Russia and Finland, although Martinez’s troops will be the away side in both Copenhagen and St Petersburg. They face a four-hour flight between all three of their Group B encounters, adding a degree of inconvenience. Nevertheless, Denmark were

dispatched home (4-2) and away (2-0) in the most recent Nations League campaign, whilst Russia were dismissed with consummate ease during Euros qualification (3-0 and 4-1), giving the group plenty of confidence to justify their position as odds-on Group B favourites at 4/5 (Spreadex). Meanwhile, Belgium’s spine of the side remains formidable in this environment. Thibaut Courtois, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku would walk into most starting XIs across club and country and should form the bedrock of a substantial challenge if aforementioned backline fears can be allayed.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Gung-ho Roberto Martinez has hardly ever deviated from his preferred 3-4-3 since taking charge. The system plays to Belgium’s strengths and allows the side to get the best out of the worldclass attacking triumvirate of Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. Functioning more akin to a 3-4-2-1, Eden Hazard and

DID YOU KNOW? n Belgium have suffered only three competitive defeats in 40 fixtures under Roberto Martinez and have topped FIFA’s World Rankings since 2018. n Belgium have averaged 3.35 goals in 23 competitive games since the 2018 World Cup, boasting a formidable 76% Expected Goals (xG) ratio. n Belgium haven’t reached a major tournament final since Euro 1980.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Belgium have been tipped as a team to follow since 2014, and now it’s time for the Red Devils to make good on their potential and deliver. Progressive youngsters have reached their prime, standout stars have enjoyed successful seasons, and the Benelux boys will be desperate to emulate the famous side of 1980 that achieved a silver medal on this stage. There’s a last-chance saloon perception surrounding Belgium’s prospects and with that now-or-never

feeling comes pressure. Question marks remain over Roberto Martinez’s capacity to engineer tournament success, particularly with an ageing defence at his disposal, never an ideal launchpad when looking to conquer a knockout competition.

a tall order for a team with such lingering defensive doubts this summer.

Expect imposing efforts during the pools before Belgium’s big-game mentality and ruthlessness is put to the test. If the tournament plays out to market expectations, Italy, France and England all stand in their way of glory from the quarter-final stage –

5/6 BETFAIR

WLB NAP BELGIUM TO WIN GROUP B

NEXT BEST TO BE THE HIGHEST SCORING TEAM (11/2 BET365)

Kevin De Bruyne operate in the attacking pockets behind the rampaging Romelu Lukaku. However, with work horse Axel Witsel’s participation in doubt, Martinez may have to re-think his midfield with an ageing defence requiring protection, and no obvious candidate to fill the holding role.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP ROMELU LUKAKU

Already Belgium’s alltime leading goalscorer at the age of 25, ROMELU LUKAKU (8/1 William Hill) has blasted 59 goals from only 91 appearances for the Red Devils since his senior debut in 2010. However, arguably more exceptional is the 28-yearold’s return of 48 goals in just 49 international outings since 2016. Feeding off the bundles of creative class and Roberto Martinez’s penchant for attacking football, the Inter Milan ace is Belgium’s most reliable source for goals, takes on penalty duty, and is capable of snaffling the Top Belgium Goalscorer gong at a fair 11/10 (Betfair) considering the soft group-stage opposition.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 23


GROUP B

BELGIUM | DENMARK | FINLAND | RUSSIA

DENMARK handed the fabled dark horses tag, there are plenty of positives surrounding the Scandinavians The spirit of 1992 lives on for Denmark who are once again looking to shock the superpowers of European football, 29 years on from when the famous Danish Dynamite defied all expectations and achieved fairytale success in Sweden. Dreams of a repeat for the Red-White this summer shouldn’t be dismissed. One of the nations to be handed the fabled dark horses tag, there are plenty of positives surrounding the Scandinavians, with market support also arriving over the past 12 months. DIFFICULT TO BEAT Denmark’s outright odds have shrunk from 100/1 in September 2020 to a current best of 33s (SkyBet) as the competition looms and it’s easy to see why. The current

MEET THE BOSS

KASPER HJULMAND

crop are devilishly difficult to beat, underlined by a return of only two competitive defeats inside 90 minutes since October 2016 – both to world number one and group rivals Belgium.

KASPER HJULMAND is regarded as one of Denmark’s most innovate coaches of his generation having guided unheralded Nordsjaelland to domestic title honours in 2012.

ELIMINATED The Red-White’s progress over the past five years has largely gone under the radar. Following a failure to qualify for Euro 2016, longstanding coach Morten Olsen moved on and former Norway boss Age Hareide came in to guide the group to the 2018 World Cup, where the Danes were eliminated on penalties to eventual runners-up Croatia in the last-16.

The 49-year-old replaced Thomas Tuchel at Mainz in 2014, but only lasted eight months before returning for a second three-year stint at Nordsjaelland.

Hareide steered Denmark through a tight Euro 2020 qualifying group and also oversaw a remarkable unbeaten run between

24 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

A progressive thinker, Hjulmand took charge of the national team in August 2020 after Age Hareide’s contract expired.

October 2016 and November 2019. But stylistic concerns were never quelled with calls for a move away from a more direct game-plan and a return to a more traditional possession-based approach eventually proving decisive. INNOVATIVE The Danish Football Association (DBA) opted against offering Hareide a new deal when his contract expired last summer and quickly installed innovative local coach Kasper Hjulmand. And whilst there’s been continuity with the players who featured in the successful qualifying campaign, there has also been a subtle shift in tactics from the Red-White. The rigid 4-3-3 structure remains and Denmark still boast a well-organised and tight-knit group, benefitting from a strong spine that features reliable rock Kasper Schmeichel in goal, captain and centre-back Simon Kjaer in the best form of his career, midfield battler Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg providing protection and top-level creator Christian Eriksen in the hole. But under Hjulmand, ball retention has been paramount, whilst a 3-4-2-1 system has also been trialled against


stronger opponents to ensure the Red-White are capable of reverting to their tried-andtrusted pragmatism too when required. The key, as always, is for the system to allow space for Eriksen to threaten with his deft passing and darting runs. PROBLEM The greatest problem for Denmark will be finding goals; the Scandinavians still arguably remain too reliant on Eriksen in that department with the industrious, if rarely prolific, Kasper Dolberg joined in forward areas by Martin Braithwaite and Yussuf

Poulsen. Versatile Andreas Skov Olsen and young Copenhagen striker Jonas Wind are waiting in the wings. Housed in a passable pool, and with the added benefit of playing all three Group B games at their Copenhagen base, optimism back home has been building. And following an eye-catching start to World Cup qualification in March (Denmark scored 14 goals in three games against Austria, Iceland and Moldova), expectations have started to soar.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Despite a dally with a threeman defence during the Nations League, Denmark’s favoured formation is 4-33, a system played under predecessor Age Hareide. However, the 2021 edition place greater emphasis on possession and pressing, with wide positions key.

DID YOU KNOW? n Denmark have only lost two of 34 competitive games inside 90 minutes since October 2016, both to world number one ranked group rivals Belgium. n Denmark have kept 12 (62%) clean sheets in 21 competitive outings since the 2018 World Cup, allowing only 0.78 Expected Goals (xG) per-game. n Denmark have failed to progress past the group-stage in three of their four European Championship appearances since their 1992 success.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Unfortunately, the horse has bolted with Denmark. Lively dark horses at three-figure quotes little more than a year ago, the Red-White are no longer Euro 2020’s saucy secret, yet still command respect as potential each-way contenders, even at their current 33/1 quotes. Expect the robust Scandinavians to utilise their physical attributes in set-piece situations, provide obdurate resistance when taking on elite opposition, whilst offering enough ability to out-

manoeuvre the lesser lights, particularly in Copenhagen. Failure to take top honours in Group B doesn’t imply disaster, either. Group B runnersup avoid a pool winner in the last-16 and also move into the perceived bottom-half of the knockout stage draw with neighbours Netherlands the likeliest opponents standing in their way at the quarterfinal hurdle. Denmark are a team with all the attributes to go well this summer.

WLB NAP BELGIUM/DENMARK DUAL FORECAST 10/11 WILLIAM HILL

NEXT BEST DENMARK TO REACH THE QUARTER-FINALS (6/4 SKYBET)

Underpinned by strong and physical foundations, creative fulcrum Christian Eriksen remains the RedWhites outstanding operator and is given license to roam in the space behind a main striker and two energetic wide forwards, expected to be Braithwaite and Poulsen.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN

With well over a century of international caps before the age of 30, majestic playmaker CHRISTIAN ERIKSEN is the heartbeat of the Danish team. The highclass talisman is on penalty and set-piece duty, is a serious threat from range, and has been a regular source of goals on the international stage. The 29-year-old has 13 goals in 24 outings for the RedWhites since the 2018 World Cup and arrives fresh having barely featured during the dying embers of 2020. Even so, Eriksen forged his way into Inter Milan’s titlewinning team and relishes his role as national team skipper and appears a reasonable 4/1 (BetVictor) to top Denmark’s goalscoring charts.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 25


GROUP B

BELGIUM | DENMARK | FINLAND | RUSSIA

FINLAND This team will be set-up to contain and capitalise on mistakes, with Pukki’s counter-attacking threat the chief weapon “I’m speechless. This is sick. We made it!” Finland’s star attraction Teemu Pukki could barely contain himself after helping the Eagle-Owls finally seal their maidan place at a major tournament with a memorable 3-0 victory over Lichtenstein in November 2019.

lifting and national sport pesäpallo, Finnish football fans have been starved of success. Over 30 fruitless qualification campaigns have come and gone since an attempt to feature in the 1938 World Cup with the Nordic nation rarely coming close to dining at football’s top table.

TEARS Topias Kauhala, a journalist for Finnish sports magazine ELMO, went further, adding, “After all these years and what Finland has been through as a national team, people have tears in their eyes, grown men. It’s something you haven’t seen in Finnish football before, crying with these emotional moments. It’s a once in a lifetime moment.”

NO WINS As recently as 2016, the EagleOwls went through a whole calendar year without victory under Hans Backe, the former assistant to Sven-Goran Eriksson at Manchester City. This prompted the Finnish FA to give the job to Markku Kanerva, who held a caretaker role twice previously and guided a promising collection of players to the U21 Euros in 2009.

The century of waiting is over. Traditionally a country more versed in ice hockey, weight

The core of that squad were starting to blossom across the

26 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

MARKKU KANERVA Former school teacher MARKKU KANERVA is credited with the remarkable turnaround in fortunes of Finnish football. The 56-yearold guided the nation’s U21 side to the 2009 Euros and has been in charge of the senior side since late 2016. Capped 59 times for his country as a defender, Kanerva spent the majority of his playing career in his homeland with HJK Helsinki.

continent and Kanerva was able to harness that potential, fostering a strong collective spirit. From rock-bottom and ruin, Finland were putting the building blocks together, increasing expertise and numbers in their backroom staff and began brewing something special. MOMENTUM Those donning the white and blue started to taste that winning feeling and with it, belief, confidence and momentum snowballed. The Eagle-Owls took top honours in their Nations League group before clinching Euro 2020 qualification for the very first time, finishing second to Italy and ahead of Bosnia, Greece, Armenia and Liechtenstein. So consistent were Finland, their finals place was assured on the penultimate round of pool matches. Crowds gathered to watch the Lichtenstein game in public screenings, as football fever gripped the nation. Wild scenes of celebration were front page news as the country’s population connected with the selfless, hard-working nature of Kanerva’s historic heroes. The core of the aforementioned U21 team in 2009 are now mainstays in the senior set-up -


Pukki, Tim Sparv, Joona Toivio and Jukka Raitala – and whilst Finland can only boast three players in Europe’s top five leagues (Pukki, at Norwich, Lukas Hradecky with Leverkusen, and Fredrik Jensen at Augsburg), this side is all about the collective. BOND The carefully nurtured bond has ensured international gettogethers are must-not-miss events and the Eagle-Owls are intent on doing more than just making up the numbers. The group sent a timely notice to Group B rivals in a November friendly last year, pocketing a

richly-deserved 2-0 triumph over defending world champions France.

tactical briefing

TRAILBLAZERS Comparisons have been made to Iceland’s trailblazers and Belgium, Denmark and rivals Russia will all need to be onguard to avoid falling into a complacency trap. This team will be set-up to contain and capitalise on mistakes, with Pukki’s counterattacking threat the chief weapon in the Finnish armoury. The dangerous debutants don’t deserve to be written off.

Markku Kanerva’s displayed a penchant for keeping things simple, preferring a 4-4-2 system during the bulk of meaningful matches. However, a more defensive framework, in either a 5-4-1 or 5-3-2, is expected to be fielded, utilising Teemu Pukki’s pace on the counter-attack.

DID YOU KNOW? n Finland were ranked as low as 110th in the FIFA World Rankings as recently as 2017 but have since climbed to 54th. n Finland averaged only 10.13 shots per-game across their 24 competitive games since September 2018, scoring twice or more on only nine occasions. n Finland are the only other Nordic team apart from the Faroe Islands to have never qualified for the World Cup.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Long-suffering fans have been made to wait for Finland’s firstever appearance at a major tournament and Markku Kanerva will be hoping to recapture the indomitable atmosphere that surrounded the Eagle-Owls’ preliminary performances. Back-to-back stalemates against Bosnia and Ukraine during World Cup qualification displayed the spirit and togetherness that stiches this squad together. With a tighter defence than

many previous incarnations have ever boasted, the busy midfield will make life difficult for possession-heavy opponents. Emerging talents Marcus Forss and Onni Valakari, plus a return to goalscoring form for Joel Pohjanpalo mean Finland now have options and bite from the bench yet realistic expectations of progress are likely to come down to the second match with Russia in St Petersburg, and whether Belgium decide to go easy on the newbies in the final group game.

WLB NAP TO SCORE UNDER 2.5 GOALS 5/6 SKYBET NEXT BEST FINLAND TO BE THE LOWEST SCORING TEAM (7/1 WILLIAM HILL)

Skipper Tim Sparv and fellow midfielder Glen Kamara lead the press in midfield with creativity coming from the likes of Robin Lod and Robert Taylor. Robust, rugged and wellorganised out of possession, the debutants can be a difficult nut to crack.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP NO FINLAND GOALSCORER Two goals shy of the national team’s all-time goalscoring record set by Jari Litmanen, Teemu Pukki is the undoubted star of Finland’s attack. The Norwich hitman scored 10 of the EagleOwls’ 16 qualification goals and has notched 16 of the side’s past 26 competitive goals. Operating as a lone forward in Markku Kanerva’s counter-attacking set-up, Pukki is the obvious option but makes little appeal at 8/13 (BetVictor) quotes to top score for the Finns. Instead, a small interest in NO FINLAND GOALSCORER (8/1 BetVictor) could appeal. The underdogs must travel to host nations Denmark and Russia before completing their group campaign against Belgium and may find the step-up in class a little too testing.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 27


GROUP B

BELGIUM | DENMARK | FINLAND | RUSSIA

RUSSIA Russia’s relative achievements brought a burgeoning sense of pride, euphoria and popularity back

MEET THE BOSS

STANISLAV CHERCHESOV

Heading into the 2018 World Cup as hosts, morale surrounding the Russian national side was at rockbottom. Lacking inspiration, leadership and ability in key areas, local fans forecasted an embarrassing early exit despite a cushy group-stage draw.

soon died out. Momentum stalled as the Sbornaya were twice shredded by Belgium during Euro 2020 qualification, whilst two lean Nations League campaigns were interspersed by a poor six-game winless streak that culminated in a shocking 5-0 loss to Serbia in November.

STANISLAV CHERCHESOV was appointed in August 2016 on an initial two-year deal and the 57-year-old former goalkeeper saw his contract extended to 2022 following Russia’s heroics at the 2018 World Cup and qualification for Euro 2020.

PRIDE So when Stanislav Cherchesov’s side exceeded expectations by overcoming Spain en-route to a quarterfinal departure, the mood surrounding the Sbornaya sky-rocketed. Russia’s relative achievements brought a burgeoning sense of pride, euphoria and popularity back with supporters quick to jump aboard the party atmosphere across the vast country.

LABOURED Russia arrested their dismal run of results with a laboured victory over Malta during March’s World Cup qualifiers, and a welcome success over Slovenia followed.

Renowned for his motivational skills and strong team discipline, Cherchesov has coached in Austria, worked with both Spartak and Dinamo Moscow, as well as guiding Legia Warsaw to the domestic double in 2016.

Cherchesov remains in charge after committing until 2022 but the honeymoon period

But Cherchesov’s charges chucked in another wobbly when turned over by Slovakia just days later with a performance that highlighted familiar problems in the underachieving nation. Cherchesov has been criticised for relying too heavily on the old guard

28 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

instead of blooding new talent but appears to have heeded calls for a refreshed approach with 12 of his 30-man extended squad boasting five caps or fewer. Nevertheless, valid defensive options are thin on the ground, whilst up front there’s an overreliance on target man Artem Dzuyba. WORRISOME The Russian skipper shoulders the majority of the goalscoring burden - Denis Cheryshev is the only other squad member with more than five international goals – and the side’s system appears to resolve solely around the Zenit striker. If service to Dzuyba suffers, the whole process begins to wilt, putting extra pressure on a worrisome backline. Pessimism is now overriding emotion Sbornaya supporters.

the for

The Serbia debacle remains fresh in the memory and Russian Premier League clubs’ poor performance during the Champions League and Europa League groupstages – where the RPL outfits pocketed a sole success in 24 collective contests – has been met with derision and ridicule. Considering only four members of the extended squad selected by Cherchesov


ply their trade outside of Russia, it’s therefore difficult to envisage a scenario similar to 2018. However, home ties against Belgium and neighbours Finland should at least give the group hope of replicating their exploits as World Cup hosts and reaching the knockout stages. FAILURE Such a feat should be deemed a coup. Russia have regularly fallen short on the international stage since the break-up of the USSR, failing to progress past the group-stage in seven of

their nine major tournament appearances. Exclude 2018 and the Sbornaya have collected just one win across nine pool matches at major tournaments since Euro 2008. REGRESSED True, the Eastern Europeans thrilled fans on their way to a third-placed finish at Euro 2008 during Guus Hiddink’s memorable stint but progress from the ninth most populous nation on the planet has significantly regressed since and there’s very little evidence to suggest Russia are capable of challenging at the business end of the competition this time around.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Russia tend to set-up in a 4-2-3-1 system as standard, although interpretations of a three-man defence in a 3-4-2-1 or 5-4-1 have also been utilised against more accomplished opposition. The main tactic is based around the power and presence of lone striker Artem Dzyuba with alternative options thin on the ground for Stanislav

DID YOU KNOW? n Russia have only twice progressed past the group-stage in nine major tournament appearances.

Cherchesov. Aleksandr Golovin and Aleksei Miranchuk provide the craft and guile in forward areas, although the Sbornaya are expected to take a pragmatic approach with up to three holding midfielders and defensively-minded fullbacks utilised to provide maximum cover.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP ARTEM DZYUBA

n Russia have won just four of their last 20 games at the European Championship finals, conceding 33 goals in the process. n Russia are winless in competitive internationals against elite opposition since 2012.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Momentum built up following a memorable home World Cup has dissipated and it’s difficult to see how Russia can position themselves as major players this summer. Having been totally outclassed by Belgium during Euro 2020 qualification, the Sbornaya’s showdowns with Finland (St Petersburg) and Denmark (Copenhagen) in games two and three are key. The damaging defeat to Serbia last November highlighted defensive frailties faced by coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who

experimented with a backthree in hope of finding a formula capable of keeping high-powered nations at bay. Russia’s basic approach is also unlikely to yield huge reward against organised and efficient opposition, such as the Danes. Progress via a potential third-place passage to the last-16 is therefore likely to come down to their meeting with defensively-minded neighbours Finland, and backing Russia to fall short in the goalscoring stakes looks our best avenue when opposing a squad that’s lacking flair and imagination.

WLB NAP RUSSIA UNDER 4.5 TEAM GOALS 8/11 SKYBET

NEXT BEST RUSSIA TO BE ELIMINATED IN THE LAST 16 (11/8 SKYBET)

Russia’s lone striker system is engineered to get the very best out of towering Zenit forward ARTEM DZYUBA. The 6ft 6in target man boasts an impressive strike rate for the national side, bagging 29 goals in 50 caps for the Sbornaya. Nicknamed ‘Dzyubinho’ following his exploits at World Cup 2018, the 32-year-old was temporarily dropped last year after an explicit video featuring the captain went viral on social media. With alternatives thin on the ground, Dzyuba is the default 8/11 (BetVictor) option to top the Russian goalscoring tree this summer.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 29


STAT PACK

GROUP b All the stats you need to compare each team in the group from their Euro 2020 & Nations League qualifying campaigns

Matches Played Results

BELGIUM

DENMARK

FINLAND

RUSSIA

FIFA Ranking: 1

FIFA Ranking: 10

FIFA Ranking: 54

FIFA Ranking: 38

23

21

24

23

W20-D1-L2

W12-D7-L2

W14-D2-L8

W14-D3-L6

Goals Scored

3.35

2.33

1.29

2.26

Goals Conceded

0.74

0.67

0.88

1.17

Goals Per-Game

4.09

3.00

2.17

3.43

0%

19%

0%

9%

100%

71%

67%

83%

Over 2.5 Goals

74%

48%

33%

70%

Over 3.5 Goals

48%

33%

13%

52%

Both Teams To Score

48%

33%

29%

48%

Over 1.5 Team Goals

91%

57%

38%

57%

Failed To Score

0%

24%

17%

17%

Clean Sheets

52%

62%

54%

43%

Win and BTTS

35%

14%

4%

26%

Lose and BTTS

9%

5%

17%

17%

Win to Nil

52%

43%

54%

35%

Lose to Nil

0%

5%

17%

9%

0-0-Draw Over 1.5 Goals

Corners For

6.91

5.71

3.79

6.13

Corners Against

3.22

3.48

4.04

3.48

Total Corners

10.13

9.19

7.83

9.61

Cards For

0.78

1.10

1.50

1.61

Cards Against

1.26

2.14

2.08

1.74

Total Cards

2.04

3.24

3.58

3.35

Booking Pts For

7.83

10.95

15.63

17.39

Booking Pts Against

13.26

22.86

21.46

18.04

Total Booking Pts

21.09

33.81

37.08

35.43

Shots For

15.78

13.86

10.13

15.09

Shots Against

7.17

8.14

12.50

9.04

Shot Ratio

69%

63%

45%

63%

Shots-on-Target For

7.35

4.90

3.96

5.52

Shots-on-Target Against

2.52

2.71

3.83

3.78

Shots-on-Target Ratio

74%

64%

51%

59%

xG For

2.57

1.87

1.48

2.41

xG Against

0.79

0.78

1.49

1.00

xG Ratio

76%

70%

50%

71%

Possession

62%

58%

50%

54%

Data includes each nation’s competitive games since the 2018 World Cup

30 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


AT A GLANCE

3.00

2.17

Denmark

3.43

4.09

Denmark

BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE Belgium

AVG. TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH

Belgium

% TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH

Finland

Finland

Goals per game

% OVER 1.5 GOALS FOR 100

Russia

Russia

80 60 40

0

20

40

60

80

20

100

0

5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55

0 Over 1.5

Over 2.5

Over 3.5

Belgium Denmark Finland

AVG. CORNERS PER MATCH

BTTS

Russia

AVG. BOOKINGS POINTS 60

17.39

8

Win to nil

% CLEAN SHEETS

7.83

10

Win & BTTS

50

6

40

10.95

Bookings Points For

4

30

2

20

0 Belgium Denmark Finland

15.63

Russia

10 0

For

Against

Belgium

Belgium

Belgium

Denmark

Denmark

Finland

Finland Russia

0

2

4

Shots

6

8

10

On Target

12

14

Finland

Belgium Denmark

Russia

AVG. SHOTS CONCEDED PER MATCH

Russia

AVG. SHOTS PER MATCH

Denmark

16

0

Scored

Finland

Russia

EXPECTED GOALS (XG) 1.87

1.48 2.41

2.57

xG For 1.49 0.78

1.00

0.79

2

4

Shots

6

8

On Target

10

xG Against

12

Conceded

Belgium

Denmark

Finland

Russia

AVG. POSSESSION Belgium Denmark Finland Russia 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 31


5

Netherlands have reached at least the semifinals in five of their nine European Championship outings.

GROUP C 13

Austria v North Macedonia

JUn

Arena Nationala, Bucharest | 17:00

17

Ukraine v North Macedonia

JUn

Arena Nationala, Bucharest | 14:00

21

North Macedonia v Netherlands

JUn

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam | 17:00

13

Netherlands v Ukraine

JUn

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam | 20:00

17

Netherlands v Austria

JUn

Johan Cruyff Arena, Amsterdam | 20:00

21

Ukraine v Austria

JUn

Arena Nationala, Bucharest | 17:00

32 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


GROUP c

AUSTRIA | NETHERLANDS | NORTH MACEDONIA | UKRAINE

Balance has been an issue for Austria ever since their woeful Euro 2016 showing, and a recent 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Denmark in their own backyard has seriously dented morale coming into this summer’s tournament. An inferiority complex against the continental big boys remains a concern to overcome, and whilst Das Team could potentially get amongst the goals, Franco Foda’s team are lacking in top-level ability at the back to be really relied upon. A place in the knockout stages isn’t out of the question, although Austria may be playing for third place in the group.

Netherlands have been handed a plum group-stage draw with the average FIFA World Ranking of their three opponents just 36, the highest across the competition. The Oranje also boast the added benefit of home advantage, playing all three group games at their Amsterdam base. Despite concerns over head coach Frank De Boer, the technical quality of the players is unquestionable, and the hosts have what it takes to put Dutch football back into a prime major tournament position. Expect Holland to have a decent run at topping Group C.

Rank outsiders in the Euro 2020 outright betting, North Macedonia will saviour their place at continental football’s top table, although Igor Angelovski’s outfit will be aiming to play the underdog role to perfection. Don’t expect the Ristovi to simply roll over. The newbies boast strength in numbers off the ball and a team spirit that could edge out a surprise result or two in an open pool. The opener against Austria could prove pivotal. Goal lines involving North Macedonia already appear low with the market anticipating a defensive approach but the 500/1 shots have the tools to be more expressive if required. However, the Ristovi are likely to fall just short of making a major statement.

KEY MATCH: AUSTRIA V UKRAINE The matchday three contest could be key in deciding who progresses to the last-16 with bookmakers hard pressed to split Austria and Ukraine in the relevant qualification markets. The latter are slight favourites to succeed and also enjoy a slight edge in terms of travel and schedule. Ukraine will be

One of the most impressive sides in qualifying, Ukraine’s progress was stunted by offfield hurdles over the past 18 months yet the Yellow-Blues arrive confident of making a splash in Group C. Andriy Shevchenko’s charges are energetic, comfortable in possession and well-drilled defensively, with a degree of depth now also offering alternative options from the bench. Shevchenko has proven himself as a very competent operator in the international game and a run to the quarter-finals (or further) shouldn’t be discounted given the structure and quality at Ukraine’s disposal.

NEED TO KNOW

based in Bucharest for a week beforehand whereas Austria will only return to Romania three days ahead of the crunch clash. The midfield battle between the two will be fascinating; there’s so much quality with the likes of Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi locking

n Austria have failed to win a single game in their past three major tournament appearances.

horns with Marcel Sabitzer, David Alaba and Konrad Laimer but Ukraine are likely to go off shorter come kick-off considering their ideal itinerary.

n Ukraine have exited at the group-stage in both of their previous European Championship efforts. n North Macedonia are the lowest-ranked nation to ever compete at the Euros.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Only England are as short as the Netherlands to qualify (1/33) from the groupstage and the Oranje s h o u l d have the tools to

top their pool given they boast home advantage. However, the hosts are far too short to support (4/9 SkyBet). Ukraine are favoured to oust Austria given their stronger structure. But don’t expect walkover wins against the tournament

newcomers North Macedonia who should ensure a closely contested group plays out tighter than odds-makers anticipate. PREDICTED FINISH

3

NETHERLANDS UKRAINE AUSTRIA

4

NORTH MACEDONIA

1 2

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 33


GROUP C

AUSTRIA | NETHERLANDS | NORTH MACEDONIA | UKRAINE

AUSTRIA a degree of apathy, disinterest and depression continues to cloud Austrian progress on the international circuit Turn the clock back to the 2016 European Championship in France… Every man and their dog had Austria noted down as tournament dark horses, so many so, it almost rendered the term meaningless. Chalked up as lively 40/1 shots following an eye-catching qualification campaign, many were expecting Das Team to outperform their odds and feature prominently amongst the latter stages. UNDER-WHELMING However, hugely underwhelming efforts and unexpected losses to Iceland and Hungary left a lingering lethargy. Five years on, and a degree of apathy, disinterest and

depression continues to cloud Austrian progress on the international circuit. The indifference has heightened since Germanborn head coach Franco Foda took charge and implemented an unwelcome defence-first strategy that’s rarely easy on the eye. FRUSTRATED Despite the likes of Salzburg, LASK Linz, Rapid Vienna and Wolfsberger making consistent strides in continental competition, Foda’s continually frustrated fans by snubbing the domestic scenes stars and instead focussed his attention on filling the Austrian squad with bigger names from the Bundesliga next door.

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MEET THE BOSS

A former Austrian Bundesliga title-winner with Strum Graz, Foda has largely managed to simmer critics by guiding the group to a second successive European Championship. Yet March’s 4-0 humbling at the hands of Denmark – the nation’s heaviest home defeat in a competitive game – has sharpened knives.

FRANCO FODA FRANCO FODA won’t be a name known to many with this only his third job in senior management despite coaching for well over 20 years. The 55-year-old is the first German to manage Austria and began his postplaying career with Strum Graz before an unsuccessful spell with Kaiserslautern. Two more stints at Strum Graz followed before the Austrian Football Federation called on him to take the top job in October 2017. Although results have been reasonable, the former German international has not convinced with his riskaverse approach.

Considering Austria have failed to take top honours in a single major tournament match since their final outing at the 1990 World Cup, avoiding the ignominy of another early exit could be deemed a success this summer. But nothing short of a quarter-final berth is likely to be enough to keep the wolves from Foda’s door. TALENT Whether the head honcho possesses the tournament nous to extract matchwinning performances from the side’s highlights remains questionable, though Austria are not short of individual talent. Nevertheless, the 55-yearold’s stubborn streak suggests a cautious approach that could easily backfire. Indeed, Foda’s fixation with


containment could expose Das Team’s major weakness - defence. Centre-half Martin Hinteregger is questionable on the ball and arguably more effective in the opposition box, whilst partner Aleksander Dragovic has looked far from convincing when called on by Bayer Leverkusen. Stefan Lainer is a regular starter for Borussia Monchengladbach and is a solid option at right-back, although 35-year-old captain Andreas Ulmer – the only nonBundesliga player in the backfour – is past his peak and operates from the left. FRAGILITY There’s an element of fragility about Austria’s backline on paper and the opportunity for Foda’s defence to be exposed is elevated by the potential absence of defensive midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger. Elsewhere, David Alaba is probably the most versatile player in Europe and that flexibility has often seen the

DID YOU KNOW? n Austria have failed to win a single game in their past three major tournament appearances, posting W0D4-L5 and scoring just five goals. n Austria have never progressed past the group stage of the European Championships, falling at the first hurdle in 2008 and 2016. n Ten (43%) of Austria’s 23 competitive games since September 2018 have featured Under 1.5 Goals.

side’s standout talent function in a more advanced role for Das Team. A ball-playing centre-back for Bayern Munich this term, expect Alaba to sit in central midfield, or feature from the left flank.

MEET THE TEAM

OPTIONS Finding a suitable system to get the best out of Alaba and key players such as Marcel Sabitzer and Christoph Baumgartner has been an age-old challenge. There are a plethora of central options open to Foda but few natural wide men, which can often create an imbalance across the park. Further forward, Marko Arnautovic’s influence has faded since moving to Shanghai. The ex-Stoke ace has seen limited competitive gametime in China and his place in the starting XI is now under threat. Beanpole Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic could now be called on to lead Das Team’s timid attack.

Franco Foda may opt for a 4-2-3-1 set up with Bundesliga trio Konrad Laimer, Xaver Schlager and Stefan Ilsanker all vying for deployment in Austria’s central midfield double pivot, providing bundles of energy should Julian Baumgartlinger fail to make it back in time. Laimer’s Leipzig teammate Marcel Sabitzer plays a more advanced role for the national team and is likely to support

Sasa Kalajdzic. David Alaba has often been used in a more advanced role and rarely plays at left-back. However, Das Team’s key component can play as a defensive midfielder or on the left wing if required. Emerging Hoffenheim talent Christoph Baumgartner arguably deserves a spot in the side and could be shoehorned in on the right.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP SASA KALAJDZIC Stuttgart striker SASA KALAJDZIC (3/1 BetVictor) heads the Top Austria Goalscorer market and the tallest player in the Bundesliga is expected to get the nod ahead of Marko Arnautovic in Das Team’s number nine role. The lanky 23-year-old offers a threat in the air

but he’s much more than a one trick pony. Kalajdzic is capable of running the channels, and finishes with class. With 16 league goals to his name in just 23 starts, the 6ft 7in hitman deserves plenty of praise and may have forced Franco Foda’s hand by notching three goals in three World Cup qualifiers in March.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Franco Foda’s overcautious approach, coupled with Austria’s rotten major tournament record, has left public opinion relatively low heading into Euro 2020.

attacking brand of football, the head coach may look to appease supporters but such a shift could leave Austria overexposed in their weakest area of the field, the backline.

Talk of a challenge beyond Group C has been almost non-existent with a general malaise hanging around Das Team.

The 4/5 (Unibet) available on Austria shipping Over 3.5 Goals in the group stage looks a very attractive play given Das Team have conceded against the likes of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Faroe Islands of late, as well as a

With so much pressure on Foda to deliver a more

shocking 4-0 shellacking from Denmark. Even so. with only eight nations leaving the party early, Austria may well burgle a place in the knockout stages by default. However, at that stage Foda’s troops will be easy meat for one of the big boys and taking the 11/10 (Bet365) on a last-16 exit looks a nice alternative.

WLB NAP TO CONCEDE OVER 3.5 GROUP-STAGE GOALS 4/5 UNIBET NEXT BEST TO BE ELIMINATED IN THE LAST-16 (11/10 BET365)

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 35


GROUP C

AUSTRIA | NETHERLANDS | NORTH MACEDONIA | UKRAINE

NETHERLANDS there’s a real chance Netherlands could build up some winning momentum heading into the knockout stages Having failed to qualify for back-to-back major tournaments for the first time since 1986, Netherlands appeared to be bouncing back from the doldrums and gaining a degree of momentum under the tutorship of legendary player-turned-coach Ronald Koeman. SNUB However, the pandemic meant last year’s competition was postponed by 12 months and the former Everton manager opted to leave the Oranje after Barcelona came calling, an offer that proved too difficult to turn down after snubbing the Catalans first approach back in January 2020. It was an undoubted blow

for a team on an upwards trajectory under Koeman’s watch, and included a run to the inaugural Nations League final, as well as qualification for this summer’s jamboree. The Dutch football federation (KNVB) were under pressure to find a suitable replacement but made a mess of securing a successor. Three potential candidates rebuffed the opportunity, leaving the uninspiring Frank De Boer as almost the default selection for the dugout. FRUSTRATING Despite his status as an Ajax legend, Oranje supporters will have collectively sighed at the appointment given De Boer’s shocking recent record outside of Amsterdam. His

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MEET THE BOSS

FRANK DE BOER Many were underwhelmed when Ronald Koeman was replaced by FRANK DE BOER, and Oranje supporters were right to have reservations about his record. De Boer endured ill-fated spells at Inter Milan and Crystal Palace, both of which lasted for a combined 22 weeks. He then turned the best MLS team at the time, Atlanta United, into a bangaverage outfit and so it’s a huge surprise to see him given another big gig.

shaky start only compounded pessimism, with risk-averse football further frustrating fans and media. FREEDOM Demands for a return to Total Football and traditional Cruyff-like qualities were ordered and the underfire boss responded with a switch in system and greater emphasis on final-third possession. Releasing the shackles, Holland’s talented midfield and attack impressed with greater freedom and goals soon flowed. Memphis Depay is arguably Netherlands’ key forward threat and the 27-year-old has thrived in a starring role for Lyon this season. The eccentric and cocksure former PSV star will happily shoulder both the creative and conversion burden this summer. GLOVES Elsewhere, there’s no obvious option between the sticks. Jasper Cillessen lacks gametime, so penalty king Tim Krul could take the gloves. There are options at right-back with Hans Hateboer, Denzel Dumfries and Joel Veltman; expect the former to start with the latter’s experience called for in high stakes games.


Owen Wijndal seems to have nailed down the left back spot, one of many who have developed superbly at AZ Alkmaar in recent years. BLOW However, the main blow for Oranje is the long-term injury to influential skipper Virgil Van Dijk. Undoubtedly one of, if not the best, centrehalves on the continent, VVD’s leadership qualities, as well his aerial and passing strengths will be missed. Daley Blind is an option at the back but Sven Botman and Stefan De Vrij, who have both won titles this season with Lille and Inter, will be harshly done if not involved in De Boer’s starting XI. MAESTRO Regardless, Holland may well base their side around Frenkie De Jong for the foreseeable with the midfield maestro dictating play and starting

DID YOU KNOW? n Eleven (48%) of Netherlands’ 23 competitive games since September 2018 have featured Over 3.5 Goals with matches averaging a lofty 3.22 goals per-game. n Only three sides averaged more shots per-game in qualification than the Netherlands with the Dutch scoring twice or more in 16/23 (70%) meaningful matches since September 2018. n Frank De Boer posted a meagre 27% win ratio in his spells as Inter Milan and Crystal Palace manager.

attacks from the centre.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Gini Wijnaldum occupies a more advanced role for the national team so expect the Barcelona-bound ace to arrive late in the box with Marten De Roon holding fort. COMMUTE Playing all three group games at the Amsterdam Arena is a welcome boost for the Koeman’s troops; opponents Ukraine, North Macedonia and Austria will be required to commute between Bucharest and the Dutch capital, a 2,600 mile round trip, which could also play into the Oranje’s hands. With that in mind, there’s a real chance Netherlands could build up some winning momentum heading into the knockout stages, and enjoy a more than reasonable passage deep into the tournament should they top the quartet.

Frank De Boer has played a few different tactical systems since he was appointed, including a backfive. But after early criticism, the Dutch supremo has reverted to a popular 4-33 to make the most of plentiful central midfield options and interchanging and dynamic forwards.

Netherlands will look to dominate the ball, although there’s pressure from fans for the side to turn possession into purpose, something that’s not necessarily in De Boer’s forte. Sharp movement in the final-third and one-touch football will be required to break down low blocks.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP WOUT WEGHORST Approaching the tournament, it’s still difficult to know if Frank De Boer will play Memphis Depay (7/4 Bet Victor) as Netherlands’ main front man, despite the indemand Lyon forward proving to be an unnatural number nine. Depay is an obvious choice but looks better value in the outright market. Elsewhere, Luuk De Jong has been favoured as a central striker during the

current regime but surely WOUT WEGHORST should be given the nod. The Wolfsburg hitman has been superb in catapulting Die Wolfe into a Champions League berth in the Bundesliga. Few are as clinical and convincing in the box and his 20-goal haul reflects that. Quoted at 25/1 (Bet Victor) to be Top Netherlands Goalscorer looks worthy of a saver. He has to be involved at some point.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Many would be talking up the Dutch for potential glory if they had Virgil van Dijk and Ronald Koeman both in situ for the summer. How much their omission will affect their performance we will have to see, but they could be in a much tougher group and that’s reflected in miniscule quotes of 4/9 (SkyBet) just to take top Group C honours.

There’s little juice in any groupbased punts so targeting the final group game with North Macedonia could be a clever way in. Without Van Dijk don’t be surprised to see a few goals leaked. There’s potential that they’re already through come the third game whereas North Macedonia will likely be fighting for something in the final game of a historic tournament. Backing the

outsiders to simply score looks too big at 7/5 (Sporting Index). There’s a high chance Holland could have the best route to the semi-finals according to the odds, but there they will inevitably meet a top side where their drawbacks will be highlighted. 4/1 (Bet365) quotes on them to be dumped out in the final-four could be a nice alternative angle.

WLB NAP NETHERLANDS V N MACEDONIA

NETHERLANDS ‘NO CLEAN SHEET’ 7/5 SPORTING INDEX NEXT BEST TO BE KNOCKED OUT IN THE SEMI-FINALS (17/4 UNIBET)

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 37


GROUP C

AUSTRIA | NETHERLANDS | NORTH MACEDONIA | UKRAINE

NORTH MACEDONIA the bond between players, staff and fans is as strong as ever and they’ll be a fascinating team to follow this summer That November night in Tbilisi will live long in the memory for the people of North Macedonia. A tense 1-0 victory over Georgia secured the modest former Yugoslav republic’s firstever qualification for a major tournament since gaining independence in 1991. DISBELIEF The emotion was clear to see. Players fell to their knees in disbelief and every member of staff invaded the pitch - the unthinkable had been accomplished and a momentous, never-to-beforgotten occasion had been achieved. Followers back home in Skopje defied a ban on public gatherings to celebrate late into the night, spontaneous street parties erupted as fans basked in the glory. Not only

had the Balkan nation reached Euro 2020 – none of their regional rivals Kosovo, Serbia and Albania and Greece had managed to join them. UNDERDOGS The Risovi will now be aiming to bring that camaraderie to their Bucharest base and should be backed by plenty of boisterous supporters making the relatively short trip to relish the occasion. The pressure will be off, and that could play into underdogs’ hands in what looks to be a more manageable group than most. North Macedonia have shown an intelligence to adapt from being favourites in a Nations League group that included Armenia and Estonia, to having to play a more withdrawn and compact style in high-stake encounters

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MEET THE BOSS

IGOR ANGELOVSKI IGOR ANGELOVSKI will be respected by the North Macedonia fans whatever happens this summer. The relatively unheralded head coach was put under pressure during qualification defeats to Poland and Austria but rode it out and succeeded in the Nations League to win over supporters . The 44-year-old has never managed outside of his homeland but has fostered a great team spirit and his man management is his redeeming feature.

and matches against superior opposition. The Risovi’s back three, supported by a double pivot in front, provides such a solid base to work from, teams will find it hard to find any space between the lines. Then it’s all about being clinical when chances are presented and plenty of the workload is reliant on the most famous player of all, Goran Pandev. ROMANCE Pandev will be the talking point whenever North Macedonia are involved and it’s hard not to be drawn into the romance surrounding his story. At 37 years of age, the Serie A legend will be one of the most senior players competing this summer, yet his influence is paramount compared to veterans elsewhere. The Genoa forward retired from the national team back in 2013 after the Balkan boys finished rock bottom of their 2014 World Cup qualifying group. His relationship with the regional FA was strained and it was an especially dark time for Macedonian football. However, when head coach Igor Angelovski took the reigns in 2015, he cited getting


Pandev back in the frame as a must, and managed to convince the side’s skipper to reverse his decision and spearhead the Risovi’s resurgence. HISTORY Of course, it had to be Pandev who scored the crucial goal against Georgia, creating a new piece of Macedonian football history, and the evergreen attacker will be retiring (again) after this tournament, another factor the team can draw inspiration from. Elsewhere, the roster that

DID YOU KNOW? n North Macedonia are the lowest-ranked nation to ever compete at the European Championships, sitting 62nd in the latest FIFA World Rankings. n North Macedonia were ranked in the bottom seeds of UEFA’s qualifying pots as recently as 2014. n Only four qualified nations averaged a higher cards per-game figure than North Macedonia in competitive matches since the 2018 World Cup.

surprisingly qualified for the 2017 U21s European Championships forms the core of the group with Boban Nikolov, Enis Bardhi, Darko Velkovski and Eljif Elmas now mainstays in the first team. Those four alone all ply their trade in different countries and that’s typical of this team with their likely XI boasting players scattered across Spain, Italy, Croatia, Albania and further afield. Even so, the bond between players, staff and fans is as strong as ever and they’ll be a fascinating team to follow this summer.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Igor Angelovski has flipflopped between a backfour and five but expect it to be the latter with wingbacks Egzjan Alioski and Stefan Ristovski providing energy down the flanks. Arijan Ademi has continuously improved for Dinamo Zagreb and shone in their Europa League run - his influence

in the middle will be vital. Key man Goran Pandev is likely to drop deeper to link play from midfield, and he’s often partnered with a more conventional forward in a 5-3-2. But with Udinese’s Ilija Nestorovski ruled out through injury we could see a battle for that lead spot.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP ELJIF ELMAS All the talk will be about Goran Pandev, and it’s understandable, but the North Macedonia legend is is just as much of a key creator in this side, playing a slightly withdrawn role, and so looks too short to in the Top Team Goalscorer charts. There’s potential value with Napoli ELJIF ELMAS

therefore elsewhere midfielder an eye-

catching 16/1 (SkyBet). Elmas has chiefly featured from the bench for the Partenopei with just three league starts to his name, so take his club scoring record with a pinch of salt. Nevertheless, the attackminded 21-year-old has averaged 1.50 shots per-90 minutes and has notched in two of his last three. His quality in the final third could be the difference between the minnows progressing or not.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Being the lowest-ranked team at the tournament, it’s little surprise to see North Macedonia chalked up as 11/4 (Betfair) outsiders to qualify from Group C. Even so, the Risovi have shown themselves to be a worthy contestant at the Euros having turned over Germany as 33/1 outsiders as recently as March. Their opening game with

Austria in Bucharest could be crucial and with little or no pressure on the underdogs, Igor Angelovski’s outfit could be involved in a few decent games. North Macedonia are 10/11 (Betfred) to simply score in their curtain-raiser and that looks a disrespectful dismissal. The Austrian rearguard has been breached by the likes of Northern Ireland, Norway, Scotland and the Faroe

Islands in recent months so don’t discount an upset. Meanwhile, the 4/1 (SkyBet) to avoid defeat against the Netherlands in their pool concluder also appears overpriced. With the Dutch potentially having already secured a passage to the knockout stage, the stars may align for this North Macedonia squad to make a surprise splash.

WLB NAP AUSTRIA VS N MACEDONIA

N MACEDONIA OVER 0.5 GOALS 10/11 BETFRED NEXT BEST NETH VS N MACEDONIA

N MACEDONIA DOUBLE CHANCE (4/1 SKYBET)

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 39


GROUP C

AUSTRIA | NETHERLANDS | NORTH MACEDONIA | UKRAINE

UKRAINE the Serie A legend has excelled at making his side stubborn, and difficult to breakdown Few sides have faced turmoil quite like Ukraine in the past few years. A national conflict with the Russian military in the east of the country has meant the well-backed Shakhtar Donetsk, as well as the national team, have had to move from the Donbass Arena and back to the capital in Kiev. Despite the disruption, the Yellow-Blue have coped with the animosity with admirable gusto. It’s not been the only issue, mind. COVID-19 had a seriously striking impact on the squad. SHOCKED The tragic loss of team doctor Anton Khudaiev to the pandemic last year shocked the association to its core and there were double figure drop-outs in the autumn internationals earlier this

MEET THE BOSS

season.

ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO

No nation’s preparation to the tournament has been normal but Ukraine have had the worst of it. Many will look at their results over the past nine months and pour scorn over their prospects this summer.

ANDRIY SHEVCHENKO was a legendary figure as a player but there was no guarantee he’d be capable of translating that success to the dugout.

MOBILISED Due to the aforementioned issues, an effective B-side and U21 outfit were mobilised during heavy defeats to France and Spain, whilst a Nations League contests with Switzerland was postponed due to sheer lack of numbers. But look what the Yellow-Blue have achieved when able to produce a fully functioning squad under national hero and head coach Andriy Shevchenko – it’s hard not to have been impressed. Ukraine went unbeaten and subsequently topped their

40 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

The 44-year-old was assistant at Euro 2016 before taking on the top job after the tournament. Ukraine’s most famous football personality has overseen a transition to a younger side and managed to compete superbly, even when down to the bare bones. His modern approach to management has rubbed off on a roster with plenty of potential, whilst his tactical acumen has earned admiration.

qualifying group ahead of European champions Portugal, Serbia and an improving Luxembourg. A 5-0 hammering of Serbia was a serious statement of intent and the team that started that particular fixture will be very similar to the side in situ this summer. PRAISE Shevchenko has also earned plenty of praise. A potent goalscorer in his heyday, the Serie A legend has excelled at making his side stubborn, and difficult to breakdown, with Ukraine shipping a miserly four goals en-route to qualification. However, the appointments of Italian assistants Mauro Tassatti and Andrea Maldera, known to the 2004 Ballon d’Or winner from his time at Milan, have also played an integral role in creating a solid structure for Ukraine to flourish from. The back four could well be made up from the domestic Vyscha Liga with Shakhtar pair Mykola Matvienko and Sergiy Kryvtsov likely to be the centre-half partnership, although Dynamo youngster Ilya Zabarnyi has earned rave reviews and could be favoured over Kryvtsov.


Zabarnyi’s teammates Oleksandr Karavaev and Vitaliy Mykolenko are favourites to feature from fullback with a midfield trident of Taras Stepanenko, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi one of the most interesting to cast an eye over. All three complement each other superbly well. DIMENSION Shevchenko will also have the option of naturalised Brazilian Marlos, who has played in Ukraine as one of many Samba Boys for Shakhtar since

2014. He gained citizenship in 2017 and adds a different dimension with his ability to play anywhere on the front line.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Ukraine have the potential to go far if they can rediscover their fine qualifying form. They’ll fancy their chances, especially having been housed in a favourable pool. Bookmakers are split on their prospects with outright prices varying from 50/1 to 125/1, but we feel Yellow-Blue could be an under the radar option.

Ukraine have long opted for a 4-3-3 with dynamic duo Andriy Yarmelenko and Yehven Konoplyanka cutting in from the wings, and Andriy Shevchenko is likely to operate with a similar set-up here. However, the latter may be dropped for impressive Dynamo Kiev attacker Viktor Tsygankov. Roman

Yaremchuk

will

DID YOU KNOW? n Ukraine were one of only five teams to qualify for Euro 2020 unbeaten with the Yellow-Blue suffering only four competitive losses since September 2018. n Of the 24 competing nations, only Wales and North Macedonia have averaged fewer corners per-game than Ukraine (3.60) in competitive games since the 2018 World Cup. n Ukraine have never progressed past of the group stages of the European Championship.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Ukraine will be an everimproving force in the next decade and the influx of technically gifted players under the age of 25 means they’re capable of laying down a market at this summer’s Euros. Priced at 4/11 to qualify, you have to delve a bit deeper to glean value from the market. Yet pooled with arguably the weakest defences in the competition in Group C, taking Ukraine

to score Over 4.5 Goals at 6/5 (Bet365) looks a manageable line to overcome. With Netherlands in opposition in the opener, the two games thereafter will be pivotal for Andriy Shevchenko’s charges with their concluding group contest with Austria already appearing decisive. The Yellow-Blues deserve to be favoured in the Draw No Bet market there and have the structure to succeed.

WLB NAP TO SCORE OVER 4.5 GOALS 6/5 BET365 NEXT BEST AUSTRIA VS UKRAINE

UKRAINE DRAW NO BET (10/11 BETFRED)

lead the line given the lack of alternative number nine’s available, whilst the midfield balance with the reliable ballwinner Taras Stepanenko holding fort and allowing the technically gifted Oleksandr Zinchenko and Ruslan Malinovskyi to carry out their creative duties is an area of excellence for the Ukrainians.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP RUSLAN MALINOVSKYI Gent frontman Roman Yaremchuk is the 3/1 favourite to be Top Ukraine Goalscorer but the form man in Serie A in 2021 looks a more interesting selection. RUSLAN MALINOVSKYI (8/1 Bet Victor) has excelled for Atalanta under Gian Piero Gasperini. Operating as an attacking midfielder, the 28-year-old has contributed to 20 league goals this term to help secure second spot for La Dea. Malinovskyi is a clever operator, finding pockets of space, turning and making the right decision in the final third more often than not. A potential threat from set-pieces and capable of scoring from distance, he could also be worth a shot in the Player of the Tournament market at a tasty 80/1 (Betfair).

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 41


STAT PACK

GROUP c All the stats you need to compare each team in the group from their Euro 2020 & Nations League qualifying campaigns

Matches Played

AUSTRIA

NETHERLANDS

NORTH MACEDONIA

UKRAINE

FIFA Ranking: 23

FIFA Ranking: 16

FIFA Ranking: 62

FIFA Ranking: 24

23

23

27

20

W13-D4-L6

W14-D4-L5

W15-D5-L7

W11-D5-L4

Goals Scored

1.57

2.30

1.74

1.50

Goals Conceded

1.04

0.91

1.15

1.10

Results

Goals Per-Game

2.61

3.22

2.89

2.60

0-0-Draw

9%

9%

0%

5%

Over 1.5 Goals

57%

78%

85%

75%

Over 2.5 Goals

52%

65%

52%

55%

Over 3.5 Goals

35%

48%

30%

25%

Both Teams To Score

48%

48%

56%

55%

Over 1.5 Team Goals

48%

70%

56%

40%

Failed To Score

26%

17%

15%

10%

Clean Sheets

35%

43%

30%

40%

Win and BTTS

30%

26%

26%

20%

Lose and BTTS

9%

13%

11%

15%

Win to Nil

26%

35%

30%

35%

Lose to Nil

17%

9%

15%

5%

Corners For

6.13

6.35

2.93

3.60

Corners Against

3.74

3.35

3.44

6.25

Total Corners

9.87

9.70

6.37

9.85

Cards For

1.70

1.26

2.26

1.60

Cards Against

2.26

2.30

2.00

1.90

Total Cards

3.96

3.57

4.26

3.50

Booking Pts For

16.96

12.61

24.26

17.50

Booking Pts Against

23.26

23.04

20.56

19.00

Total Booking Pts

40.22

35.65

44.81

36.50

Shots For

15.39

17.04

9.11

12.20

Shots Against

8.13

8.39

9.52

12.85

Shot Ratio

65%

67%

49%

49%

Shots-on-Target For

4.96

7.17

3.37

4.70

Shots-on-Target Against

2.83

2.96

3.44

4.70

Shots-on-Target Ratio

64%

71%

49%

50%

xG For

1.86

2.28

1.52

1.42

xG Against

0.84

1.01

1.24

1.51

xG Ratio

69%

69%

55%

49%

Possession

60%

61%

49%

50%

Data includes each nation’s competitive games since the 2018 World Cup

42 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


AT A GLANCE AVG. TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH 3.22

BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE

Austria

2.89

Austria

% TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH

2.61

2.60

N Mac

Austria

N'lands

N'lands

N Mac

Ukraine

N Mac

N'lands

Goals per game

% OVER 1.5 GOALS FOR

Ukraine

Ukraine

60 40 20

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

0 Over 1.5

Over 2.5

Over 3.5

Austria

AVG. CORNERS PER MATCH

N'lands

N Mac

BTTS

Ukraine

AVG. BOOKINGS POINTS

Win & BTTS

Win to nil

% CLEAN SHEETS 45

10

16.96

17.50

8

40 35

6

30 25

Bookings Points For

4

20

12.61

2

15 10

24.26

0 Austria

N'lands

N Mac

Ukraine

5 0

For

Against

Austria

Austria

Austria

N'lands

N'lands

N Mac

N Mac Ukraine

0

2

4

Shots

6

8

10

12

On Target

14

16

N Mac

Austria

Ukraine

AVG. SHOTS CONCEDED PER MATCH

Ukraine

AVG. SHOTS PER MATCH

N'lands

18

0

Scored

N'lands

N Mac

Ukraine

EXPECTED GOALS (XG) 2.03 1.38 2.18

1.21

xG For 1.34

1.20

0.94

0.90

2

4

Shots

6

8

On Target

10

xG Against

12

Conceded

Austria

N'lands

N Mac

Ukraine

AVG. POSSESSION Austria N'lands N Mac Ukraine 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 43


GROUP D 13

England v Croatia

JUn

Wembley Stadium, London | 14:00

18

Croatia v Czech Republic

JUn

Hampden Park, Glasgow | 17:00

22

Croatia v Scotland

JUn

Hampden Park, Glasgow | 20:00

14

Scotland v Czech Republic

JUn

Hampden Park, Glasgow | 14:00

18

England v Scotland

JUn

Wembley Stadium, London | 20:00

22

Czech Republic v England

JUn

Wembley Stadium, London | 20:00

44 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


GROUP D

CROATIA | CZECH REPUBLIC | ENGLAND | SCOTLAND

CROATIA

Careless and inconsistent is probably the best way of describing Croatia’s form coming into Euro 2020. With the World Cup now out of the Blazers’ system, there’s hope the perennial dark horses can re-find their groove and make a splash at this summer’s tournament. Zlatko Dalic’s side possess a continental-conquering midfield but lack the personnel in either box to be considered serious challengers beyond Group D.

CZECH REPUBLIC ENGLAND

The Czech Republic are becoming European Championship mainstays, although it’s tended to be feast or famine for the Lions in more recent campaigns.

Arguably the global game’s biggest underachievers since 1966, hope springs eternal that England can mount a major assault on silverware. Looking to tap-in to the momentum of Russia in 2018, a strong start against Croatia could put the Three Lions into a commanding position.

The side has evolved since flopping at Euro 2016, thanks largely to the calming influence of head coach Jaroslav Silhavy, yet a trappy pool alongside two tournament hosts makes progress particularly tricky.

With an awesome array of burgeoning talent within the ranks, Gareth Southgate’s side are the team to beat, even if finishing second in Group D offers a more serene route through the knockout stages.

KEY MATCH: ENGLAND v SCOTLAND It’s 25 years since England and Scotland crossed swords at a major tournament but the auld enemies will relish their Wembley encounter in the middle match of Group D. With the Three Lions taking top honours in eight of the duos past 11 meetings, a repeat of the Euro ’96 outcome looks the most

SCOTLAND

It’s disrespectful to suggest Scotland are only here for the party. After enduring an agonising 23-year wait for a major tournament appearance, Steve Clarke’s squad will be doubly determined to make an impact, particularly with Hampden Park hosting crunch contests with Croatia and Czech Republic. If Scotland aren’t emotionally and physically drained by their date at Wembley, the final round fixture with the Czechs is likely to decide who avoids the dreaded Group D wooden spoon.

NEED TO KNOW

likely scenario. However, Scotland have made promising progress under Steve Clarke’s stewardship and the former Kilmarnock tactician is well-versed in upsetting the odds throughout his managerial career. Don’t expect the Scots to roll over.

n England have only won their group in two of 10 major tournament appearances since Euro ’96. n No Euro 2020 nation has conceded more goals per-game in competitive matches than Croatia since September 2018.

n Scotland have never progressed past the groupstage of a major tournament. n Czech Republic are the only nation to be knocked out of European Championship matches via the golden goal and silver goal rule.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT England and Croatia dominate the betting landscape in Group D and the duo are a reasonable play at 10/11 (BetVictor) in the Dual Forecast. Neither will want to start their campaign with a defeat during the

pool opener but are heavily favoured in clashes with Czech Republic and Scotland thereafter. With the Group D winner facing a side from Group F in the last-16, speculation and theory suggests taking second spot in the pool will prove advantageous over the longer haul. However, such

intricacies are unlikely to affect proceedings before the third round when qualification could still be in the balance. PREDICTED FINISH

3

ENGLAND CROATIA SCOTLAND

4

CZECH REPUBLIC

1 2

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 45


GROUP D

CROATIA | CZECH REPUBLIC | ENGLAND | SCOTLAND

CROATIA the modest nation can never be completely dismissed in the outright conversation Since debuting at Euro ’96, Croatia have been an almost ever-present at major tournament finals, despite their standing as a relatively young and small nation. This summer marks the Blazers’ sixth successive European Championship appearance, whilst the Balkan boys have also played their part in five of the most recent six World Cups, a quite remarkable feat.

Understandably, status and expectation elevated following the side’s exploits and Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic struggled to keep the show on the road. The World Cup hangover lingered, and whilst the Blazers qualified comfortably enough for Euro 2020, finishing top of their group ahead of Wales, Hungary and Slovakia, erratic performances ensued.

VINTAGE And whilst the France ‘98 vintage were heralded as Croatia’s famous flagbearers with a memorable thirdplace finish at the World Cup, the 2018 crop exceeded all expectations by returning to the podium as runners-up.

Heavy Nations League losses to Spain (6-0), Portugal (41) and France (4-2) brought criticism with the partial shift of generations and evolution of the side proving a particularly tricky problem to overcome. Mario Mandzukic, Danijel Subasic and Vedran Corluka retired following Russia and Ivan Rakitic ended his own international career last September.

The country’s golden generation finally delivered on their packed potential by returning each-way profit for those punting the perenial dark horse.

Despite heading to 36, mesmeric skipper Luka Modric

46 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

ZLATKO DALIC Appointed as caretaker just three days before a vital, must-win World Cup qualifier against Ukraine in 2017, ZLATKO DALIC passed his audition with flying colours as Croatia ran out 2-0 winners in Kiev before cruising through a tricky play-off tie with Greece. Given the gig permanently in November 2017, the former midfielder guided the Blazers to the 2018 World Cup final, earning a bumper new contract until 2022. The 54-year-old previously spent five years with the U21s and has experience at club level in his homeland, Albania, UAE and Saudi Arabia, including an Asian Champions League runners-up medal.

remains the side’s lynchpin in midfield but finding the right system to suit the Real Madrid star has provoked numerous tactical shapeshifting. Likely to operate in a withdrawn playmaking role this summer, Croatia’s mostdecorated player could also be parachuted into the hole behind a lone striker. FRAGILE Elsewhere, fellow veterans Ivan Perisic and Dejan Lovren remain mainstays in Dalic’s preferred XI with the eccentric Domagoj Vida joining the latter to form a fragile partnership in the heart of defence. Further backline fears are found in Sime Vrsaljko’s ongoing fitness concerns and the Blazers’ propensity to concede soft goals over the past three years. MEAGRE No Euro 2020 finals nation have shipped more goals pergame than Croatia (1.62) in competitive contests since September 2018 with the Balkan boys delivering a meagre tally of five shutouts in the same sequence. Even rock-bottom Azerbaijan were able to get on the scoresheet in home and away bouts with the Blazers during Euros qualifying.


Hopes of a repeat of 2018 look unlikely unless Dalic is able to settle on a system that gives his rich midfield options an opportunity to impress. Marcelo Brozovic has nailed down the holding midfield role meaning the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Mario Pasalic, Josip Brekalo and Nikola Vlasic, join Ante Rebic and Perisic in a straight fight to join Modric in Croatia’s first XI. CLASSIC Further forward, a decision must also be made on the vacant striker’s berth. Neither Bruno Petkovic nor Andrej Kramaric are classic centreforwards in the mould of

Mandzukic with the pair preferring to play slightly withdrawn roles. Whether either can step up and fulfil the lead position could prove key as to whether Croatia can overcome their defensive flaws. DANGEROUS An opening encounter against England at Wembley is bound to be a baptism of fire for Croatia, who must also face Scotland in their final group game from Glasgow. Nevertheless, the modest nation have proved in the past they can be dangerous dark horse operators and can never be completely dismissed in the outright conversation.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Zlatko Dalic has always insisted on a positive, attacking 4-2-3-1 system with two offensive fullbacks pushing forward. Since reaching the World Cup final, the tactician has experimented with a variety of formations, deploying 4-4-2, 4-1-41, 4-3-3 and even 3-5-2 in order to give his side variety and versatility, particularly in attack.

DID YOU KNOW? n Croatia have the worst loss rate across all 24 Euro 2020 teams since September 2018, having been beaten in nine (43%) of their past 21 meaningful matches. n Since reaching the World Cup final in 2018, Croatia have conceded 1.62 goals per-game in competitive internationals, the worst return amongst Euro 2020 qualifiers. n Croatia have never progressed beyond the first knockout stage of a European Championship in five previous appearances.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Croatia’s consistency in reaching the knockout stages of major tournament finals has brought the Blazers towards the top table of the European game. Dealing with inflated expectation hasn’t come easy to Zlatko Dalic’s troops, however, with the 2021 squad weaker on paper compared to their 2018 counterparts as the golden generation age. Tackling home nations England and Scotland in

their own backyard bring hazards so the middle match with the Czech Republic is arguably the group’s key contest. Taking top honours on the 18th should set the Balkan outfit up for a run at the last-16 from where second place in the pool brings its own advantages. As the odds suggest, Croatia should be capable of navigating a passage beyond the group-stage but forging another serious assault on silverware could prove

beyond their limits.

WLB NAP CROATIA TO SCORE 5-8 GOALS 5/4 SKYBET NEXT BEST CROATIA/ENGLAND GROUP B DUAL FORECAST (10/11 BETVICTOR)

Skipper Luka Modric can be deployed in the midfield pivot, or in a free playmaking role, with Marcelo Brozovic providing the muscle and protection to a fragile and ageing backline. Nikola Vlasic has excelled in the number 10 position and could keep more illustrious names out of Croatia’s starting side this summer.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP ANDREJ KRAMARIC

With no standout centreforward option and a gluttony of attacking midfield options, pinpointing Croatia’s chief goal-getter is tricky business. ANDREJ KRAMARIC has been plagued by injury in the past yet remains an accomplished goalscorer, bagging 25 times in just 34 club appearances for Hoffenheim in 2020/21. Often operating in a withdrawn/second striker role, or from the flanks, his versatility makes him a prime candidate to be used anywhere across Zlatko Dalic’s attack. If given the nod from the off, the 29-year-old is well capable of making his mark provided the former Leicester flop enters the competition in full fitness.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 47


GROUP D

CROATIA | CZECH REPUBLIC | ENGLAND | SCOTLAND

CZECH REPUBLIC a difficult draw means progression is far from guaranteed Since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic have continued to thrive on the continental circuit, qualifying for seven successive European Championship finals, putting the Lions in elite company alongside Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. ADMIRABLE Runners-up at Euro ‘96, semifinalists in 2004, and having reached the last-eight in 2012, the 2021 group are hoping to emulate their predecessors by progressing to the knockout stages having made admirable progress over the past three years. Unlike previous Czech sides, the current batch are devoid of individual star quality. There’s no Pavel Nedved, no Jan Koller, no Patrick Berger, nor even Petr Cech. This is a team with few headline-

grabbers, but a squad that’s far greater than the sum of its parts. TRANSITION Having fallen flat on their most recent Euros appearance and failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Jaroslav Silhavy was given the task of reviving fortunes. His chief exercise was to manage a transition between generations, whilst overseeing an improvement in results. Qualification wasn’t demanded, nor expected, considering the size of the task. The respected coach worked as an assistant under Karel Bruckner at Euro 2008 and twice earned domestic title honours in the main managerial role and soon set about reversing the team’s worrying freefall. Building a roster around players from his former club Slavia Prague,

48 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

JAROSLAV SILHAVY JAROSLAV SILHAVY took Slavia Prague to their first title in eight years after taking over in 2016. Sacked in his second season, the 59-year-old was appointed Czech Republic boss in September 2018 after the nation’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The level-headed and experienced former defender spent six years as national team assistant between 2003 and 2009 and worked under Karel Bruckner at Euro 2008.

Silhavy was quick to establish a meritocracy where form trumped fame. Tomas Soucek and Vladimir Coufal’s rapid rise with West Ham have made the pair key components, whilst Alex Kral, Lukas Masopust and Jan Boril all produced influential displays in turning the tide. Interspersed by the experienced cat Tomas Vaclik, skipper Vladimir Darida, winger Jakub Jankto and key forward Patrik Schick, the foundations are fair. DISGRACED But centre-back options are of concern with disgraced Slavia centre-half Ondrej Kudela serving a 10-game ban for racially abusing Rangers’ Glen Kamara, and Ondrej Celustka possibly being partnered by out-of-form Jakub Brabec. Tomas Kalas is an alternative option with youngster David Zima likely to be a longerterm prospect. Soucek will be expected to bring his goalscoring boots to the national side, as well as his box-to-box qualities with Silhavy settling on a lone-striker system. Elegant forward Schick is unquestionably the Lions’ most talented squad member and thankfully arrives in


reasonable form following a troubling spell on the sidelines. SECRET WEAPON Meanwhile, highly-rated starlet Adam Hlosek could be a secret weapon from the bench. Sparta Prague’s versatile forward became the Czech league’s youngestever goalscorer in 2009 and was finally given a debut in September 2020, only to suffer serious injury soon after. A quick recovery has brought the 18-year-old back into the fold as a viable alternative. Team spirit and rigid defensive organisation are Czech Republic’s redeeming

features. Even so, the Lions have shown a penchant for playing an energetic highpressing style as their game plan evolves, whilst setpieces will also be utilised considering the physical threats posed throughout the squad. TARGET Silhavy’s side will fancy their chances of bloodying the nose of one of their Group D rivals. However, a difficult draw means progression is far from guaranteed. Bettering the pitiful one-point haul at Euro 2016 is the immediate target but history has taught us not to treat the Czech Republic lightly.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Czech Republic supremo Jaroslav Silhavy rarely deviates from his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. The Lions have tended to employ an energetic high-pressing system out of possession but could look to curb their instincts against elite opposition. Central defence is the

DID YOU KNOW?

TOP GOALSCORER TIP

n Czech Republic will be competing in their seventh successive Euro finals this summer, though the Lions have only once appeared at the World Cup. n The Czechs have averaged an impressive 1.76 Expected Goals (xG) per-game in competitive internationals since September 2018. n None of the Czech Republic’s 21 competitive games since September 2018 have ended goalless, whilst just one has ended all-square.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Accurately assessing quite how far the Czech Republic have come under Jaroslav Silhavy isn’t easy with COVID-19 playing particular havoc with the Lions preparations. Plans for autumn 2020 were chucked into disarray, whilst the Lions’ displays during the World Cup qualifiers in March were characterised by inconsistency. One of only three nations to avoid competitive defeat to Belgium since the

2018 World Cup, the Czechs impressed in Prague. Yet a profligate performance in a bad-tempered clash with Wales has put the squad on the back foot coming into this summer’s showpiece. An opening round encounter with Scotland in Glasgow is likely to dictate whether the Czech Republic sink or swim in Group D, and whilst more than capable of making a splash, the odds available on opposing a fruitful campaign are just a little too big to

ignore draw.

considering

side’s weak spot yet defensive solidity remains paramount with Silhavy setting his side up in a well organised but rigid structure. Tomas Soucek and Alex Kral stich the midfield together with lively winger Jakub Jankto and sole central striker Patrick Schick providing a fruitful partnership.

the

WLB NAP UNDER 4.5 GOALS IN GROUP D 17/20 UNIBET NEXT BEST TO FINISH BOTTOM OF GROUP D (6/4 BETVICTOR)

PATRICK SCHICK

The dynamic PATRIK SCHICK is Czech Republic’s most accomplished centreforward. Tipped for greatness, the elegant striker has revived his career with Bayer Leverkusen following an unhappy two seasons with Roma. The 25-yearold has the size and stature to attack crosses, but can also pose a threat on the deck. Debuting for the national team in 2016, Schick has become the Czechs’ main threat, with nine goals in 19 international appearances since the beginning of 2018. The most expensiveever Czech player is fair 5/2 (Bet365) favourite to land top team goalscorer honours.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 49


GROUP D

CROATIA | CZECH REPUBLIC | ENGLAND | SCOTLAND

ENGLAND Should England reach the final-four, home advantage in both semifinals and the final could give the Three Lions the edge Over the past two decades there’s been a common recurring theme surrounding the England national team – experience has almost always won when faced with youthful exuberance. Big name players have proven to be mainstays in starting XIs, egos rarely moved aside and the emerging class were rarely given the opportunity to express themselves. IMPOSSIBLE With a pressure-cooker atmosphere surrounding the camp, high-powered head coaches have found it nighon impossible to implement a winning formula and the Three Lions dream of bringing football back home inevitably ends in humiliating failure.

But is the tide beginning to turn? Since Gareth Southgate succeeded Roy Hodgson post Euro 2016 (and the Iceland debacle), the former U21 boss has brought an element of calm to proceedings. A different identity has spawned with respect, culture and organisation at the heart of positive change imposed by the Euro ’96 fall guy. RELAXED The English press, so long the bane of the national set-up, have also given the group a period of grace with Southgate operating a more relaxed and open approach to interviews and media. In a clever move by the waistcoat-wearing supremo, the 50-year-old has shown admirable levels of emotional

50 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

GARETH SOUTHGATE GARETH SOUTHGATE’S three-year stewardship with the U21s means he knows how to nurture youngsters. The former defender has continued to invest in youth with a 33-man provisional squad featuring no played aged 30 or over and just three over the age of 28. The 50-year-old won over the doubters during the memorable 2018 World Cup campaign although dissenting voices continue to chastise his pragmatic approach.

intelligence, a key strength in his repertoire. FEELGOOD The feelgood vibes coming out of the camp have translated to Three Lions fans and the unforgettable 2018 World Cup, where England reached the semi-final in Russia, helped restore a relationship between players, staff and supporters that was previously fractious. It’s rare for England to be approaching a major tournament without any major on-or-field issues, and that’s a testament to the consistency in performance levels of the squad, as well as the calm stream of communication feeding out of the set-up. PROSPECTS A steady stream of high-class prospects have also been blooded in the backdrop of 2018 – 26 debuts have been handed out since Russia, many of which will be vying for starting berths this summer. Declan Rice can call the holding role his own, whilst Mason Mount and Phil Foden have been key in their respective club sides’ run to the Champions League final. Elsewhere, the likes of Jack Grealish and Jadon Sancho


managed double figures for assists this term yet aren’t even guaranteed a place in Southgate’s XI. Others such as Jesse Lingard and John Stones – scorers and squad members three summers ago – have refound their mojo following dips in form in the intervening years. With all three group games due to be played at Wembley, progress to the last-16 is the bare minimum with the Group D gong more than achievable. EDGE Should England repeat their feat from Russia and reach the final-four, home advantage in both semi-finals and the final could give the Three Lions the

edge required to finally end 55 years of hurt.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

TOUGH But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it promises to be a treacherous path for progress through the knockout stages. Landing on the tougher side of the draw should England top the group, a last-16 tie against the runner-up from the Group of Death awaits. With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how England approach their final group game with Czech Republic knowing second place in the pool could represent a more favourable route to destiny.

Gareth Southgate has flipped between numerous tactical systems, playing 3-5-2 at the World Cup in Russia, 4-3-3 in the Euro 2020 qualifiers and 3-4-3 in the 2020 Nations League, before switching back to 4-3-3 in the March World Cup qualifiers.

DID YOU KNOW? n Only Belgium (76%) and Spain (74%) boast a better Expected Goals (xG) ratio return in competitive matches since the 2018 World Cup than England (72%). n England scored 37 goals in eight Euro 2020 qualifiers, notching four goals or more in their first seven preliminary matches. n No nation has appeared more often than England at the Euros without reaching the final – 31 matches and counting.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT England will host competitive major tournament football for the first time in 25 years. With the rush of patriotic money anticipated, coupled with home advantage, mean the layers are giving little away with 11/2 (Unibet) quotes on the Three Lions to win outright tight enough. Gareth Southgate’s side are understandably one of the front runners given the talent at their disposal, but many will point to the favourable run-in enjoyed en-route to the 2018 semifinal. It’s unlikely to be as complimentary this time

around, though the side’s skill, pace, dynamism and depth in attacking areas ensures they’ll be a match for most. There’s potential for England to overwhelm the likes of Czech Republic and Scotland in the final third and after averaging a whopping 4.63 goals per-game in qualifying, you’d have to fancy the Three Lions prospects of surpassing the Over 9.5 Goals line at 10/11 (SkyBet). They’ve done it before under Southgate, and with a much better squad available, there’s no reason why this England side can’t at least match their

2018 exploits. Whisper it quietly, but it might be coming home.

WLB NAP ENGLAND TO SCORE OVER 9.5 GOALS 10/11 SKYBET NEXT BEST ENGLAND TO REACH THE SEMI-FINALS (7/4 SKYBET)

A back-three provides more protection for a soft centre but the system has been criticised for restricting creativity. Meanwhile, the 4-3-3 allows England’s precocious set of exciting, attackers more freedom to express themselves in forward areas.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP HARRY KANE

HARRY KANE (6/5 Betfair) took Golden Boot honours at the 2018 World Cup, was England’s top goalscorer during qualification for Russia, and notched a continenthigh 12 goals during the preliminaries for Euro 2020. The wantaway Spurs superstar smashed 35 goals for club and country this term, earned a third Premier League Golden Boot and moved into sixth on the list of England’s all-time list of top goalscorers. The Three Lions skipper is still the first player on the teamsheet, is on penalty duty and needs just four more goals to match Gary Lineker’s record of 10 tournament goals for England. Kane is the 8/1 (Unibet) joint favourite in the outright Top Goalscorer market.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 51


GROUP D

CROATIA | CZECH REPUBLIC | ENGLAND | SCOTLAND

SCOTLAND After 23 years away from the limelight, anything is possible Scotland will end an agonising 23-year wait in the wilderness this summer after securing their place at Euro 2020 with a nerve-shredding penalty shootout success against Serbia in the play-offs. Never a nation to take the easy route, Steve Clarke’s side sent the Tartan Army into delight and disbelief after a hazardous route to the finals. ROCK-BOTTOM One of the biggest beneficiaries of the inaugural Nations League, Scotland started their Euro 2020 preliminaries safe in the knowledge a play-off place was already assured. Yet morale hit rock-bottom when Alex McLeish’s outfit kickedoff their qualification phase with a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Kazakhstan back in March 2019. A desperately dour 2-0 triumph over no-hopers San Marino followed three days later but barely saved

face, and with a growing air of apathy surrounding the national side, the Scottish Football Association (SFA) knew major changes were required. McLeish was axed and Steve Clarke was the popular choice to the fill the void. MIRACLES The surly Ayrshire supremo had worked minor miracles with Kilmarnock but was unable to immediately turn the tide. Heavy defeats to Belgium and Russia saw Scotland’s standing plummet further with national media debating whether the longsuffering Tartan Army will ever get the opportunity to see the dark blues at football’s top table in the foreseeable. However, the back door was always open via the play-offs. Clarke rallied the troops, brought a sense of pride, professionalism and organisation back to the senior set-up and provided

52 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

STEVE CLARKE STEVE CLARKE was assistant to Jose Mourinho and Kenny Dalglish before taking the managerial plunge at 49, leading West Brom to their highest Premier League finish and guiding Reading to a first FA Cup semi-final in 88 years. Arguably the 57-year-old’s biggest achievement in the club game was taking relegation-threatened Kilmarnock into Europe and posting the club’s recordpoints tally. However, Clarke’s crowning glory was ending Scotland’s 23-year wait for a return to major tournament football having arrived in the hot-seat in May 2019.

a much-needed positive mindset. Scotland’s players responded and squeezed past both Israel and Serbia, discovering a previously hidden talent for winning penalty shoot-outs. FLOURISHING Clarke’s template has been to make the team humble, hard working and difficult to beat. But he has also benefitted from a core of talented players flourishing in the Premier League over the past 18 months with the likes of Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong, Scott McTominay, Ryan Fraser and John McGinn standing out. The single-minded boss has also navigated the Old Firm rivalry better than most and looked beyond the Glasgow goldfish bowl to pick out rough diamonds from the domestic game. Right-back Stephen O’Donnell, centrehalf Declan Gallagher and target man Lyndon Dykes have all been promoted to prominent starting roles when required. ENERGETIC Fielding two of the continent’s best left-backs has seen Scotland shift away from Clarke’s favoured 4-2-3-1 to a three-man defence with


Tierney sitting and allowing the energetic Robertson to operate from wing-back, whilst McTominay will be pushed into his more familiar central midfield role following injury to Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean. Meanwhile, Southampton’s English-born striker Che Adams came into the fold in March’s World Cup qualifiers and now looks the most likely to lead the line after impressing in three appearances for the Scots. With James Forrest, Ryan Christie and David Turnball in

tow, plus Fraser and McGinn fit and firing, Clarke isn’t short of offensive options elsewhere. As hosts of two of their Group D games in Glasgow, Scotland will feel they boast a realistic chance of breaking the national glass ceiling and securing a first-ever place in the knockout rounds of a major tournament. After 23 years away from the limelight, anything is possible, and the Tartan Army will be determined to make Euro 2020 a memorable affair regardless.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Steve Clarke started his Scotland reign by implementing the same 4-2-3-1 that worked so well with Kilmarnock. But in autumn 2020 a switch to a back-three was implemented with a view to accommodate the nation’s two best players, Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney (left-centre-back) and Liverpool’s Andy

DID YOU KNOW? n Scotland enjoyed a ninegame unbeaten sequence between October 2019 and November 2020, the nation’s best run of results in 44 years. n Scotland have never progressed past the groupstage in their previous 10 appearances at major tournaments. n No qualifying nation called up more players to the senior squad than Scotland during the preliminaries (55), including nine goalkeepers.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT It’s taken time but Scotland return to major tournament action with a heady mix of momentum and courage. Their second match, against the auld enemy England at Wembley, promises to grab all the attention but Steve Clarke’s a shrewd operator and should ensure a competitive showing, whilst targeting Croatia and Czech Republic for top honours. A meticulous tactician, Clarke has one of Scotland’s

strongest squads in years available and has proven well capable of engineering oddsdefying performances across all of his previous managerial and coaching roles. The Hampden Park factor gives the group a helping hand and progression to the last-16 is entirely plausible if the pressure is embraced. Scotland have the capacity to surprise their Group D foes, even if the dream scenario of winning at Wembley fails to materialise.

WLB NAP SCOTLAND TO SCORE OVER 2.5 GOALS 8/11 SKYBET NEXT BEST TO CONCEDE UNDER 5.5 GROUP D GOALS (4/6 UNIBET)

Robertson back).

(left

wing-

With Ryan Jack and Kenny McLean missing through injury, Scott McTominay will return to his more familiar midfield role alongside Callum McGregor with John McGinn providing support to Che Adams in attack with a withdrawn forward offering further support.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP JOHN MCGINN

JOHN MCGINN (6/1 Bet365) was named Scottish Football Writers’ Association International Player of the Year for the second successive year after the Aston Villa midfielder’s goals and performances played a major role in helping the Scots reach Euro 2020. Scotland’s leading scorer in qualification, the former Hibernian ace is given license to get forward and has notched all 10 of his international goals across his last 17 appearances since June 2019, all of which have arrived under Steve Clarke’s leadership. McGinn is an eyecatching option outside of favourite Che Adams in the Top Scotland Scorer market.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 53


STAT PACK

GROUP d All the stats you need to compare each team in the group from their Euro 2020 & Nations League qualifying campaigns

Matches Played

CROATIA

CZECH REPUBLIC

ENGLAND

SCOTLAND

FIFA Ranking: 14

FIFA Ranking:40

FIFA Ranking: 4

FIFA Ranking: 44

21

21

23

25

W9-D3-L9

W12-D1-L8

W15-D3-L5

W12-D5-L8

Goals Scored

1.62

1.57

2.61

1.56

Goals Conceded

1.62

1.14

0.83

1.24

Goals Per-Game

3.24

2.71

3.43

2.80

5%

0%

13%

4%

Over 1.5 Goals

86%

71%

78%

80%

Over 2.5 Goals

76%

62%

70%

60%

Over 3.5 Goals

33%

14%

48%

32%

Results

0-0-Draw

Both Teams To Score

67%

52%

39%

44%

Over 1.5 Team Goals

48%

48%

61%

44%

Failed To Score

14%

24%

22%

28%

Clean Sheets

24%

24%

52%

32%

Win and BTTS

24%

33%

26%

20%

Lose and BTTS

33%

14%

13%

8%

Win to Nil

19%

24%

39%

28%

Lose to Nil

10%

24%

9%

24%

Corners For

5.38

6.48

5.22

5.44

Corners Against

4.00

3.57

3.17

5.04

Total Corners

9.38

10.05

8.39

10.48

Cards For

2.52

1.67

1.65

2.12

Cards Against

1.62

2.19

2.00

2.20

Total Cards

4.14

3.86

3.65

4.32

Booking Pts For

25.95

17.38

18.48

21.80

Booking Pts Against

17.62

23.33

21.30

22.60

Total Booking Pts

43.57

40.71

39.78

44.40

Shots For

12.86

13.90

13.13

12.28

Shots Against

9.43

8.43

8.83

11.16

Shot Ratio

58%

62%

60%

52%

Shots-on-Target For

4.62

4.90

6.13

4.24

Shots-on-Target Against

4.62

3.57

3.26

4.04

Shots-on-Target Ratio

50%

58%

65%

51%

xG For

1.53

1.76

2.37

1.56

xG Against

1.39

1.02

0.90

1.14

xG Ratio

52%

63%

72%

58%

Possession

55%

51%

61%

49%

Data includes each nation’s competitive games since the 2018 World Cup

54 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE WORLD CUP BETTING GUIDE


AT A GLANCE % TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH

AVG. TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH 3.43

Croatia

Croatia

2.71

BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE

3.24

2.80

Czech

Czech

Goals per game

Czech

England

Scotland

England

England

Croatia

% OVER 1.5 GOALS FOR 60

Scotland

Scotland

50 40 30 20

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Over 1.5

Over 2.5

0

10 0

Over 3.5

Croatia

AVG. CORNERS PER MATCH

Czech

10 BTTS

England Scotland

AVG. BOOKINGS POINTS

10

30

40

50

Win & BTTS

60

70

Win to nil

% CLEAN SHEETS 50

21.80

8

20

25.95 40

6

30

Bookings Points For

4 2

20

18.48

0 Croatia

Czech

17.38

10

England Scotland

0 For

Against

Croatia

England

Croatia

Scotland

Croatia

Croatia Czech England

0

2

4

Shots

6

8

On Target

10

12

14

0

Scored

Czech

England Scotland

EXPECTED GOALS (XG) 2.37

1.76

1.56

1.53

xG For 1.02

0.90

1.39

Scotland

Scotland

Czech

AVG. SHOTS CONCEDED PER MATCH

England

AVG. SHOTS PER MATCH

Czech

1.14

xG Against 1

2

3

Shots

4

5

6

7

On Target

8

9 10 11 12

Conceded

Croatia

Czech

England

Scotland

AVG. POSSESSION Croatia Czech England Scotland 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 55


GROUP E 14

Poland v Slovakia

JUn

Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg | 17:00

18

Sweden v Slovakia

JUn

Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg | 17:00

23

Slovakia v Spain

JUn

La Cartuja, Seville | 17:00

14

Spain v Sweden

JUn

La Cartuja, Seville | 20:00

19

Spain v Poland

JUn

La Cartuja, Seville | 20:00

23

Sweden v Poland

JUn

Krestovsky Stadium, St Petersburg | 17:00

56 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


GROUP E

POLAND | SLOVAKIA | SPAIN | SWEDEN

POLAND

SLOVAKIA

Does Paulo Sousa have enough time to implement a winning style that suits record goalscorer Robert Lewandowski? Having only taken on the role in January, the Portuguese has promised a more attack-minded approach to appease the Bayern Munich hitman but at what cost elsewhere?

It’s difficult to find too many positives for Slovakia. The Repre have underwhelmed for a while on the international circuit and their lack of invention in the final-third heaps extra pressure on a defence that’s nothing better than ordinary.

March’s World Cup qualifiers highlighted defensive flaws that will require fixing, and in a group containing conservative Sweden and Slovakia, Poland will need to be on-guard to avoid an early exit.

Taking on Spain on matchday three could prove to be a blessing if the hosts have already secured top honours in the group, but overcoming Poland and/or Sweden is probably a task too tall for Stefan Tarkovic’s troops.

KEY MATCH: SWEDEN v POLAND Spain in Seville will be hard to stop so Sweden and Poland know their clash in the final round of Group E could prove pivotal for progress. Provided pool outsiders Slovakia are dismissed by the duo early doors, this match-up is likely to decide which nation guarantees knockout football.

SPAIN

SWEDEN

Luis Enrique’s arrival should put Spain back amongst the continental elite and progression to the last-16 is expected with a minimum of fuss.

Having achieved relative success at the 2018 World Cup, Sweden supporters are wanting more. Janne Andersson’s awkward outfit will prove stiff opposition for their Group E rivals and possess the more rounded challenge from outside Spain to be considered second favourites in the pool.

La Roja will welcome their three group opponents to the searing furnace of Seville in summer where conditions should suit a comfortable stroll to the top of the group.

Even without Zlatan in tow, the Scandinavians are to be respected..

NEED TO KNOW

As the odds suggest, the market is struggling to split the pair yet we’d prefer to be on the side of the Swedes. With Poland’s late coaching change, and concerns over a fading backline, the Scandinavians consistency, organisation and rugged approach is preferred in the ultra-competitive contest.

n Poland have fallen at the group-stage hurdle in five of their past six major tournament appearances. n Slovakia have reached the knockout stages in both of their previous major tournament appearances, returning W1D1-L1 in both group-stages.

n Spain have managed a solitary success (W1-D2-L2) in their last five major tournament openers. n Sweden have fallen at the group-stage in four of their most recent five appearances at the European Championships and only once progressed past the quarter-finals.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Sweden, Poland and Slovakia face the unenviable task of t a k i n g on Spain in the melting pot of Seville in

mid-summer, whilst travelling to and from St Petersburg for their remaining pool encounters. That alone should give La Roja a helping hand in sewing up top spot in the pool. With powderpuff Slovakia struggling to make any inroads in the final-third,

Sweden and Poland will be expected to battle it out for a runners-up berth in an intriguing battle to progress in Group E. PREDICTED FINISH

3

SPAIN SWEDEN POLAND

4

SLOVAKIA

1 2

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 57


GROUP E

POLAND | SLOVAKIA | SPAIN | SWEDEN

POLAND it’s hard to see the current Polish crop making major inroads beyond the first knockout stage Poland have qualified for a third major tournament in succession, but fans of the Eagles could be forgiven for feeling a degree of trepidation ahead of Euro 2020. For all their previous promise and potential, pride and progress has been hard to find on the biggest stage with five early exits in the White-Reds last six World Cup or Euros appearances. DESPERATE The 2016 vintage departed the European Championships at the quarter-final stage – Poland’s best effort for 30 years - before a desperate campaign at the 2018 World Cup saw Robert Lewandowski and co eliminated before their final pool fixture. Head coach Adam Nawalka was dismissed, and Jerzy Brzeczek brought in to spark

life back into the national side. The team made modest moves in the right direction, securing qualification with only one defeat to their name, recording seven shutouts in 10 fixtures and shipping just five goals. Yet the atmosphere was turning soar in and out of the senior set-up. FRUSTRATED Supporters and media became tired and disillusioned with Brzeczek’s negative tactics - only Ukraine topped their section with fewer goals – and star attraction Lewandowski was growing increasingly frustrated by his lack of impact and service. The Bayern Munich superstar was on the scoresheet in only one of the eight games Poland played in autumn 2020 and something clearly had to give. The Polish FA

58 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

PAULO SOUSA One of only two players to win the Champions League in successive seasons with different clubs, former Portugal defensive midfielder PAULO SOUSA is only the second foreigner to coach Poland’s senior side. The least experienced international boss at Euro 2020, Sousa’s journeyman coaching career has included stints in England, Hungary, Israel, Switzerland, China, Italy and France, winning domestic titles with Basle and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

relieved Brzeczek of his duties in January and quickly appointed Paulo Sousa, a journeyman coach but with a reputation for attacking football, and a promise to unshackle Bobby. SPIRITED With time limited, the World Cup qualifiers in March produced mixed results, although a spirited secondhalf performance against England at Wembley without Lewandowski gave cause for hope. The Eagles certainly played more on the front-foot, pressed out of possession and implemented a higher defensive line. Sousa seems keen to partner skipper Lewandowski with Arkadiasz Milik up top with gifted Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski taking on the creative role, even if he’s rarely found his best form for the WhiteReds. On paper, the trio should marry together to form a formidable forwardline, yet the Portuguese tactician could be found wanting elsewhere. CUMBERSOME It remains unclear whether Sousa will select a three or four-man defence but the ever cumbersome Kamil Glik seems certain to take his place


in the heart of a backline that appears ordinary at best. Jan Bednarek provides a steadier influence as neither Maciej Rybus nor fellow full-back Bartosz Bereszynski offer the side elite-level cover. With only eight nations leaving the summer party early, progression is the minimum expectation on Sousa’s side. However, Poland must navigate an inconvenient pool-stage schedule that entails travelling

from St Petersburg to Seville and back, as well as enduring a day’s less rest before locking horns with Sweden in a potentially decisive third fixture.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

The attitude in camp might be more positive but ultimately, it’s hard to see the current Polish crop making major inroads beyond the first knockout stage and more major tournament misery could be on the cards for the White-Reds.

Poland are looking to play more attack-minded football under Paulo Sousa following a series of dreary defensive efforts under predecessor Jerzy Brzeczek. Although evidence is thin on the ground, March’s World Cup qualifiers suggested the Portuguese boss will employ a higher defensive line and a flexible 4-4-2 system

DID YOU KNOW? n Poland have failed to progress from the group-stage in five of their past six major tournaments, finishing rock-bottom in the pool on four occasions. n Poland managed just five firsthalf goals during Euro 2020 qualification and have scored only 12 first-half goals in their past 23 competitive outings. n Only three Euro 2020 qualifiers have returned a lower shot ratio return than Poland (50%) in competitive games since September 2018.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT There’s a bit of the unknown circling around Poland following their late coaching change earlier this year. Paulo Sousa’s main principal expectation is to unlock Robert Lewandowski’s untapped major tournament potential, although frontloading a side that lacks a strong enough backbone could be a recipe for disaster against street-wise Sweden and hosts Spain. Consistent and competitive efforts against the interna-

tional elite has always hampered Polish progress and the White-Reds look weaker than the side that arrived in Russia three years ago when packed with promise. Another European Championship flop isn’t beyond the realms of possibility with a trappy curtain-raiser with Slovakia the side’s most likely source of victory. And we’re happy to suggest the WhiteRed may fall short in the battle for a top-two finish, reliant upon a third-place route into

the last-16 where the Eagles journey looks likely to end.

WLB NAP TO BE ELIMINATED IN THE LAST-16 8/5 UNIBET NEXT BEST TO FINISH THIRD IN GROUP E (9/5 BETFAIR)

despite experimentation with three at the back. Robert Lewandowski and Arkadiasz Milik will lead a formidable striker partnership with playmaking Piotr Zielinski supplying the ammunition. Further back, the Eagles appear fragile with the ponderous Kamil Glik a mainstay at centre-back and full-backs that fail to convince.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI

If Poland are to make major progress, ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI (4/5 SkyBet) will be expected to play a leading role. Arguably Europe’s most complete striker, the hitman has surpassed 40 goals in each of his past six seasons. The country’s all-time top scorer has netted 11 in 19 for the Eagles since the start of 2019 and is desperate to improve on a return of just two major tournament goals. The skipper collected the European Golden Shoe award this term and his 41-goal haul in the Bundesliga broke a 49year record held by the legendary Gerd Muller.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 59


GROUP E

POLAND | SLOVAKIA | SPAIN | SWEDEN

SLOVAKIA realists will point to their difficult to disguise flaws as reason to oppose the Repre Expected Points (xP) projections based off pretournament match prices forecast Slovakia to finish bottom of Group E. The Falcons have posted a negative W8-D5-L10 return in competitive contests since September 2018, failing to score in 35% of those encounters and generating a worrisome 0.88 Expected Goals (xG) per-game average. DESPONDENT No competing nation at Euro 2020 ranks below Slovakia in any of those aforementioned metrics, and the despondent mood and pessimistic outlook surrounding the Repre suggests chunky odds on Stefan Tarkovic’s troops advancing further than the group-stage are more than justifiable this summer. Slovakia failed to qualify automatically, finishing behind Croatia and Wales

in their preliminary pool, pocketing a solitary point against the top-two finishers. Instead, the Falcons squeezed through the Nations League back door after beating Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland in tightly-contested play-offs. UNCONVINCING Between the two knockout ties, Slovakia made the audacious decision to dismiss head coach Pavel Hapal. Admittedly, the shootout victory in Bratislava over the Republic was unconvincing and was followed up with defeats by Scotland and Israel, however the timing of his dismissal was still somewhat a surprise. Tarkovic was brought into the fold in the hope of inspiring an improved performance - part of the senior set-ups coaching staff under Jan Kozak at Euro 2016 – he’s thus far failed

60 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

STEFAN TARKOVIC Slovakia made the surprise decision to sack Pavel Hapal on the eve of their crunch play-off against Northern Ireland with STEFAN TARKOVIC stepping in to steady the ship and oversee the final step of qualification for Euro 2020. A former assistant of Jan Kozak at Euro 2016, the 48-year-old has previously held coaching positions in charge of both the men’s and women’s Slovakian youth teams and is renowned for his methodical approach.

to ignite the Repre with the current incumbent generally fielding a variant of 4-5-1 that involves packing the midfield and waiting for counterattacks. BURDEN A lack of attacking fullbacks has restricted tactical options and formations, whilst Vladimír Weiss’ recall has been designed to alleviate some of the creative burden on Marek Hamsik’s shoulders. Even at 33, the now Gothenburg playmaker remains indispensable for Slovakia, operating in a free role behind a solitary forward, likely to Robert Bozenik. A strikerless system (4-6-0) has also occasionally been employed with Slovakia using their wingers and attacking midfielders as false nines, whilst overloading the midfield. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see Tarkovic take up a similar bus-parking option against Spain if required on the final round of Group E action in Seville. QUALITY So don’t expect fireworks. Entertainment could be thin on the ground when following the Falcons this summer, as for all their respective negativity, the landlocked nation do


boast a degree of quality in defence. Inter centre-half Milan Skriniar, Napoli shield Stanislav Lobotka and tireless Milan midfield Juraj Kucka at least provide the Repre with a solid spine. Slovakia have typically thrived when written off and

will look to the 2010 World Cup for inspiration ahead of the competition but realists will point to their difficult to disguise flaws as reason to oppose the Repre. Just getting on the scoresheet this summer could be a source of success and an early exit looms.

TACTICAL BRIeFING

Slovakia look set to lineup in a variant of 4-5-1 with Stefan Tarkovic looking to deploy a four-man defence and a lone striker system where possible. Marek Hamsik remains the lynchpin in the number 10 position with Robert Mak and Albert Rusnak set to operate from the flanks.

DID YOU KNOW? n No Euro 2020 team produced a lower Expected Goals (xG) output than Slovakia’s 0.88 per-game in competitive contests since September 2018. n Slovakia scored multiple goals in just nine of their 23 meaningful matches since the 2018 World Cup, averaging only 1.26 goals per-game. n No Euro 2020 qualifier has faced more shots in competitive outings since September 2018 than Slovakia, facing an average of 14.26 efforts pergame.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT With 10 of their provisional 24-man squad the wrong side of 30, Slovakia don’t lack experience. But only Marek Hamsik and Juraj Kucka remain from their memorable 2010 World Cup campaign and the current group are lacking the required flair, finesse and efficiency of their famous predecessors. Slovakia produced a paltry 0.62 Expected Goals (xG) per-game on average in six fixtures against Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland

and Republic of Ireland since September 2018, and have struggled for invention throughout the past three years. With clean sheets thin on the ground, it’s a concerning combination facing Stefan Tarkovic’s team. The smartest way to make Slovakia pay at Euro 2020 looks to be in opposing their goals tally. Facing Spain last could give the group a puncher’s chance of progress but the Repre start both St Petersburg showdowns against pool rivals Poland

and Sweden with low expectations and make for unappealing outsiders.

WLB NAP TO SCORE UNDER 2.5 GOALS 10/11 SKYBET NEXT BEST TO BE THE LOWEST SCORING TEAM (10/1 WILLIAM HILL)

Stanislav Lobotka and Juraj Kucka provide the energy in central areas. The Falcons fielded a strikerless 4-6-0 system against Ireland and could be tempted to repeat the feat against possessionheavy opposition such as Spain.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP NO GOALSCORER Slovakia fired blanks in eight (35%) of their 23 competitive encounters since September 2018 and produced a miserable 0.88 Expected Goals (xG) per-game average across those aforementioned outings. The Falcons’ defensivefirst approach and lack of an obvious centreforward option means few players standout as a possible goalscoring option. Considering the Repre’s shot-shy nature, punters could benefit from backing the NO GOALSCORER option at 7/1 (SkyBet) in Slovakia’s Top Goalscorer market. The underdogs generated a pitiful 0.62 xG average in six meaningful matches with Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland over the past three years.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 61


GROUP E

POLAND | SLOVAKIA | SPAIN | SWEDEN

SPAIN Spain still like to dominate the ball, but the Iberians are happy to go direct, attack with greater intensity and dynamism Three successive major tournament failures have followed Spain’s sensational three-peat and the nation’s chaotic, and often archaic, football federation (RFEF) knew the national team needed a major shake-up. REFRESH Champions League-winning coach Luis Enrique was given the gig to oversee a much needed reboot. The tetchy tactical-thinker impressed the powers-that-be with his modern ideals, demands and expectations and immediately set about an overdue refresh of La Roja. On the day of Luis Enrique’s appointment in July 2018, the former Barcelona boss was quizzed about his aims and

aspirations in his new role. Without a second’s thought, the Asturian confirmed Euro 2020 success was top of his priority list. EVOLUTION It’s been more evolution than revolution during the 51-yearold’s punctuated reign with La Roja venturing away from a possession-centric approach. Sure, Spain still like to dominate the ball, but the Iberians are happy to go direct, attack with greater intensity and dynamism. In defence, the 2008 and 2012 continental champions are also pressing higher up the field. Results have largely impressed, even if consistency has at times been lacking.

62 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

LUIS ENRIQUE LUIS ENRIQUE won La Liga and Copa del Rey titles with both Barcelona and Real Madrid as a player and went on to guide the Catalans to Champions League glory during a treble-winning campaign as a coach in 2015. Arriving in July 2018, the 51-year-old was forced to temporarily leave his position following the tragic death of his nine-year daughter, returning to the post in November.

November’s sensational 6-0 shellacking of Germany in the Nations League showcased La Roja in all their modern day glory – speed, precision, aggression – yet an uninspiring 1-1 stalemate with Greece followed during March’s World Cup qualifiers, as well as a sketchy 2-1 triumph over Georgia. AXED Preparation for the tournament has also been overshadowed by Luis Enrique’s surprise decision to axe skipper Sergio Ramos from the squad. There was also no call for Los Blancos team mate Nacho Fernandez, and with no Real Madrid player making the 24-man roster, the Spanish press have understandably reacted with anger and exasperation. Ramos’ absence leaves behind an inexperienced international backline that causes obvious concern, yet Rodri, Sergio Busquets and Koke are on-call to provide protection from midfield. RUTHLESS Ferran Torres could be handed a key role in the front three with Alvaro Morata hoping to deliver the ruthless finishing touch that’s occasionally alluded the Iberians.


Regardless, Spain are expected to take top honours in a reasonable pool. La Roja have been turned over just three times in competitive games since the 2018 World Cup, scoring at least twice in 70% of their 23 meaningful matches. Meanwhile, only Belgium (76%) boast a better Expected Goals (xG) ratio than Spain (74%) during the

same sequence.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Playing all three group games in Seville gives the hosts an extra edge and should Spain finish top of the tree in Group E, a third-place nation awaits in the last-16. If the market plays out as expected, an encounter with England in the last eight awaits and from there La Roja will feel as confident as any that continental glory can be achieved.

Expect Spain to set-up in their familiar 4-3-3 but La Roja present a more aggressive and direct forward threat under Luis Enrique’s watch. No longer possession for possession’s stake, the Iberians aim to get the ball forward faster, play with purpose and

DID YOU KNOW? n Spain have made a habit of starting major tournaments slowly, pocketing a solitary success in their last five curtain-raisers (W1-D2-L2).

precision and operate a higher defensive line as they attempt to engage opponents as early as possible. Spain’s risky defensive strategy can leave the backline exposed to the counter-attack when taking on pacy teams.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP FERRAN TORRES

n Spain have averaged the most shots per-game and possession of all 24 Euro 2020 nations in competitive games since the 2018 World Cup. n Only Belgium (2.57) can better Spain’s 2.56 Expected Goals (xG) per-game average in meaningful matches since the 2018 World Cup.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT A 6-0 walloping of Germany aside, Spain have rarely set the international circuit alight since their last European Championship title triumph in 2012. La Roja’s position as realistic outright contenders owes more to their potential promise than hardened evidence gleaned over the past three years and it could be a year too early for the current crop. Regardless, Luis Enrique’s subtle tweaks to style and system suggest Spain have the capability to make a reasonable impact at this

summer’s tournament. A kind group-stage draw that includes home advantage should give the group a solid platform to work from and a quarter-final berth will be minimum expectation to aspire towards. However, an unconvincing backline, a lack of on-field leaders, plus a curious squad selection that’s already irritated the Spanish press mean Luis Enrique’s charges are arguably already starting a step or two behind more prominent outright candidates.

WLB NAP SPAIN TO SCORE UNDER 9.5 GOALS 5/6 SKYBET NEXT BEST SPAIN TO CONCEDE UNDER 1.5 GROUP STAGE GOALS (7/5 UNBET)

If Spain are to be successful, Alvaro Morata will likely play a prominent role, but the Juventus striker’s inconsistent performances could work against him in Luis Enrique’s ruthless team selections. Instead, Manchester City starlet FERRAN TORRES (4/1 Bet365) is favoured to impress at much meatier quotes in the Top Team Goalscorer market. The 21-year-old smashed a hat-trick in La Roja’s famous 6-0 downing of Germany and has racked up six international goals in only 10 appearances for the senior side.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 63


GROUP E

POLAND | SLOVAKIA | SPAIN | SWEDEN

SWEDEN it’s a functional rather than flashy side where conservatism rules and counter-attacking remains king Sweden head into the European Championships in buoyant mood. The BlueYellow’s quarter-final exit at the 2018 World Cup was the Scandinavian’s best display at the top table of international football since a memorable third-place finish in 1994. PROGRESSED Head coach Janne Andersson remains in situ and the side has progressed over the past three years. In the aftermath of the World Cup, Sweden won their inaugural Nations League group ahead of Turkey and Russia, and went on to suffer a solitary reverse during the Euro 2020 preliminaries against Spain. In truth, 2020 wasn’t completely convincing but a maximum point haul from the start of World Cup

qualifiers in March has again raised spirits. PRAGMATIC Of course, the traditional 4-4-2 system that’s become synonymous with the Swedish sides is still deployed with pragmatic Andersson keen for the Blue-Yellow to home in on the age-old traits of tactical discipline, defensive organisation, aggression and set-piece efficiency. The compact formation focuses on neutralising opponents and being direct in attack. SOLID The centre-backs are solid with Victor Lindelof anchoring the defence, whilst work horse Albin Ekdal allows the more expressive Kristoffer Olsson to take up the box-to-box role in midfield. Emil Forsberg is a key component from the left

64 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

JANNE ANDERSSON JANNE ANDERSSON earned rave reviews in Sweden after transforming Norrkoping from relegation-battlers to a first Allsvenskan league title in 26 years in the space of 12 months. The 58-year-old was snapped up by the Blue-Yellow in August 2016 following a woeful effort at Euro 2016. Andersson sufficiently impressed at the 2018 World Cup to earn an extended deal in charge until 2024.

with 35-year-old Sebastian Larsson still earning his stripes when called upon by Andersson from the opposite flank. In attack, Sweden would have been banking on pairing Dejan Kulusevski and Zlatan Ibrahimovic together. However, with the latter ruled out through injury, veteran Marcus Berg is tipped to lead the line with the exciting Aleksander Isak in competition with Kulusevski for a starting berth in the forwardline. UNITY Zlatan’s long-awaited return and subsequent absence has understandable hogged headlines across the continent. The 39-year-old made a remarkable impact on Milan this term, although there’s a theory to suggest the out-spoken maverick is too dominant a character for a team that values collective unity over individualism and ego. Overall, it’s a functional rather than flashy side where conservatism rules and counter-attacking remains king. Yet Andersson has no reason to worry about the Blue-Yellow’s opposition in Group E. A curtain-raiser with


Spain in Seville is far from ideal, although La Roja’s slowstarting nature could give Sweden an opportunity to spring an early surprise. OPPORTUNITY From there, a Polish side that’s regressed in recent years, and a Slovakian outfit that’s appeared impotent at times in the final-third, should give the group a great opportunity to reach the knockout stages of the European Championship for only the second time in six recent appearances. Before

we

get

ahead

of

ourselves, it’s true too the Scandinavians are undergoing a degree of transition as the Blue-White begin to blood an exciting emerging batch of youngsters.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Capable of competitive efforts against elite opposition, Sweden will be difficult to dismiss and deserve their position as second favourites in Group E. Potential dark horses, quarterfinals look plausible, but the 1992 semi-finalists are the bar for Sweden to aim for this summer.

Sticking to tradition, Sweden will set-up in a fluid 4-4-2 system this summer. Head coach Janne Andersson has introduced more nuance to proceedings with Dejan Kulusevski and Emil Forsberg often starting from the flanks and drifting in-field, allowing the full-backs to push forward into something

DID YOU KNOW? n Sweden’s quarter-final exit at the 2018 World Cup marked the Scandinavian’s best performance since finishing third at USA ’94. n Sweden have fallen at the group-stage in four of their last five appearances at the Euros and only once progressed past the quarters. n Sweden are one of four nations at Euro 2020 to average fewer than 50% possession in competitive matches since September 2018.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT “The return of the God” was how Zlatan Ibrahimovic announced his return to the Swedish national side, but there’s a fair argument to suggest the Blue-Yellow are better off without the country’s record goalscorer. Under astute coach Janne Andersson, experience is bountiful, team unity is unquestionable, and future stars are beginning to surface. The Nordic nation take on slow-starting Spain in their opener before key back-to-

back contests with Poland and Slovakia in St Petersburg, neither of which should intimidate the Scandinavians. A top-two finish has to be the aim with a four-point haul from their final two fixtures likely to be enough to secure a passage into the knockout rounds. The team’s tried-and-trusted pragmatism, tactical discipline and defensive organisation will then be the bedrock for a crack at a second successive quarter-final contest.

WLB NAP TO SCORE OVER 3.5 GOALS 4/6 SKYBET NEXT BEST SWEDEN TO FINISH SECOND IN GROUP E (9/5 UNIBET)

more akin to a 3-5-2 in possession. Marcus Berg and Robin Quaison are joined by Alexander Isak as potential options in attack with Victor Lindelof tasked with leading the defence from centre-half. Albin Ekdal monitors the midfield with Kristoffer Olsson providing the craft and guile from the centre of the park.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP DEJAN KULUSEVSKI

Industrious veteran Marcus Berg and talented youngster Aleksander Isak are in pole position to lead Sweden’s attack and the duos’ odds to top the Blue-White’s goalscoring charts reflect that. But Juventus forward DEJAN KULUSEVSKI appears monstrously mispriced as a 20/1 (BetVictor) option considering his versatility. Capable of featuring from the flanks, as a withdrawn striker or alongside a target man up top, Kulusevski offers welcome dynamism, physicality and technique. The 21-yearold isn’t the most prolific offensive threat but appears grossly underrated in a market without a clear and obvious favourite.

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STAT PACK

GROUP E All the stats you need to compare each team in the group from their Euro 2020 & Nations League qualifying campaigns

Matches Played Results

POLAND

SLOVAKIA

SPAIN

SWEDEN

FIFA Ranking: 21

FIFA Ranking: 36

FIFA Ranking: 6

FIFA Ranking: 18

23

23

23

22

W11-D5-L7

W8-D5-L10

W15-D5-L3

W11-D4-L7

Goals Scored

1.52

1.26

2.70

1.68

Goals Conceded

0.96

1.30

0.78

1.14

Goals Per-Game

2.48

2.57

3.48

2.82

0-0-Draw

9%

9%

0%

5%

Over 1.5 Goals

74%

70%

91%

82%

Over 2.5 Goals

48%

48%

65%

59%

Over 3.5 Goals

17%

30%

43%

23%

Both Teams To Score

39%

52%

57%

36%

Over 1.5 Team Goals

48%

39%

70%

55%

Failed To Score

26%

35%

4%

23%

Clean Sheets

43%

22%

39%

45%

Win and BTTS

13%

22%

26%

9%

Lose and BTTS

13%

17%

9%

14%

Win to Nil

35%

13%

39%

41%

Lose to Nil

17%

26%

4%

18%

Corners For

4.83

3.65

8.17

5.09

Corners Against

4.57

5.26

2.70

5.05

Total Corners

9.39

8.91

10.87

10.14

Cards For

2.04

2.26

1.35

1.55

Cards Against

2.39

2.35

1.65

1.95

Total Cards

4.43

4.61

3.00

3.50

Booking Pts For

21.09

23.91

14.13

16.14

Booking Pts Against

27.17

24.13

17.83

20.23

Total Booking Pts

48.26

48.04

31.96

36.36

Shots For

11.09

10.13

18.65

12.18

Shots Against

10.87

14.26

5.26

10.68

Shot Ratio

50%

42%

78%

53%

Shots-on-Target For

3.91

4.13

7.43

5.14

Shots-on-Target Against

3.26

4.87

2.57

3.55

Shots-on-Target Ratio

55%

46%

74%

59%

xG For

1.30

0.88

2.56

1.79

xG Against

1.13

1.65

0.90

1.13

xG Ratio

53%

35%

74%

61%

Possession

51%

52%

71%

49%

Data includes each nation’s competitive games since the 2018 World Cup

66 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


AT A GLANCE % TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH

AVG. TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH 3.48

Poland

2.57

Poland

BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE

2.82

2.48

Spain

Poland

Slovakia

Slovakia

Spain

Sweden

Spain

Slovakia

Goals per game

% OVER 1.5 GOALS FOR

Sweden

Sweden

60 40

0

20

40

60

80

20

100

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

0 Over 1.5

Over 2.5

Over 3.5

Poland

AVG. CORNERS PER MATCH

Slovakia

Spain

BTTS

Sweden

AVG. BOOKINGS POINTS

10

Win & BTTS

Win to nil

% CLEAN SHEETS 45

16.14

40

21.09

8

35 30

6

25

Bookings Points For

4

20

14.13

2

15

0 Poland

Slovakia

Spain

10

23.91

Sweden

5 0

For

Against

Poland

Poland

Poland

Slovakia

Slovakia

Spain

Spain Sweden

0

2

4

Shots

6

8 10 12 14 16 18 20

On Target

Spain

Poland

Sweden

AVG. SHOTS CONCEDED PER MATCH

Sweden

AVG. SHOTS PER MATCH

Slovakia

0

Scored

Slovakia

Spain

Sweden

EXPECTED GOALS (XG) 2.56 0.88 1.30

1.79

xG For 1.65

0.90

1.13

1.13

xG Against 2

4

Shots

6

8

10

On Target

12

14

16

Conceded

Poland

Slovakia

Spain

Sweden

AVG. POSSESSION Poland Slovakia Spain Sweden 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 67


5

France have reached the final in five of their last 11 major tournaments.

GROUP F 15

Hungary v Portugal

JUn

Puskás Aréna, Budapest | 17:00

19

Hungary v France

JUn

Puskás Aréna, Budapest | 14:00

23

Portugal v France

JUn

Puskás Aréna, Budapest | 20:00

15

France v Germany

JUn

Allianz Arena, Munich | 20:00

19

Portugal v Germany

JUn

Allianz Arena, Munich | 17:00

23

Germany v Hungary

JUn

Allianz Arena, Munich | 20:00

68 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


GROUP F

FRANCE | HUNGARY | GERMANY | PORTUGAL

FRANCE

France justified 13/2 quotes to take top honours at the 2018 World Cup and Didier Deschamps’ group have relished the pressure piled on from a demanding media back home. Les Blues arrive as outright favourites, and with the supreme ability of Kylian Mbappe, appear improved since Russia, especially so with the return of Karim Benzema. Rightful jollies, expect a pragmatic approach from Deschamps who will focus on balance and structure over prizes for aesthetics.

HUNGARY

If Hungary are to repeat their Euro 2016 exploits and forge a path to the knockout stages this summer, home advantage in the Magyars’ two openers in Budapest is bound to play a leading role. Locals could provide the necessary impetus to push the rank outsiders beyond pretournament expectations but surviving the Group of Death still looks a touch beyond the current crop. The fitness of poster boy Dominik Szoboszlai remains a major talking point. If they can keep games tight, his stardust could be a decisive factor.

GERMANY

Playing all their group games at base is a natural positive for Die Mannschaft who boast plenty of pace up front and bundles of class in midfield, although questions will be asked about the backline. Few are expecting the Germans to go the distance this time around but lack of attention could play into their hands from a psychological perspective. Long-term coach Joachim Low will be making his final bow as Bundestrainer before stepping down. He’s been on a terrific journey with these players and the recalls for stalwarts Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller should provide plenty of on-field leadership.

KEY MATCH: FRANCE V GERMANY Curtain-raising contests can be trappy affairs but the mouthwatering Group F opener in Munich is one of the standout fixtures from Euro 2020. The meeting could have huge implications on the group and the layers are finding it difficult to make up their mind with the match-up not far from a pick ‘em.

PORTUGAL

Portugal have arguably the gold standard of international tournament football in the dugout. Fernando Santos guided the Selecao to 2016 success whilst also taking unfancied Greece to the quarterfinals at Euro 2004. With a burgeoning bed of quality coming through, as well as established star names, expect the Iberians to come into their own when the knockout stages get underway. Fine margin matches and a willingness to take a point in tight group-stage games suggest the Selecao could be a risky play in the pools.

NEED TO KNOW

On neutral territory, France would be favoured so how much will the Munich crowd will have to play on the final result? With a capacity of just 20% possibly not as much as the market currently anticipates so expect Les Blues to shorten in the coming days.

n Germany have reached the semis or better in six of their past seven major tournaments. n Hungary are in the midst of a nine-game unbeaten streak, the nation’s best run since 1972. n Portugal have lost just four of 56 competitive matches under Fernando Santos.

However, a draw might not be the worst result for either.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT This is without doubt the toughest group to qualify from with Germany, France and Portugal all ranked inside the top 12 of the FIFA World Rankings. There’s a high possibility all three progress but whoever finishes top of the tree will look

to have the best run towards the semis with a third-placed team in opposition for the last-16, and a runner-up in-line for the quarters, so expect a feisty battle for top honours between the standout trio. Germany and Hungary enjoy home advantage and Die Mannschaft have been made favourites to take gold. We

prefer world champions France at the prices with Hungary probably propping up the pool as the market expects. PREDICTED FINISH

3

FRANCE GERMANY PORTUGAL

4

HUNGARY

1 2

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GROUP F

FRANCE | GERMANY | HUNGARY | PORTUGAL

FRANCE With a glittering squad it’s easy to see why the market has maximum respect for the class of 2021 Success is a word synonymous with France manager Didier Deschamps. Having captained Les Blues to home World Cup glory as a player in 1998, the two-time Champions League winner repeated the feat two years later by taking top honours at Euro 2000. Since moving into the management, the 52-yearold was denied at the death at Euro 2016 but made up for the disappointment by becoming only the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and a coach having guided France to their 2018 World Cup triumph. PRAGMATIST In fact, the hard-faced pragmatist from Bayonne has won trophies with every side he’s overseen since hanging up his boots yet the

doubters in the French media still question his decisions and direction of Les Blues. Given the awesome array of attacking talent at Deschamps’ disposal, natives are clamouring for a more gung-ho approach from the national team. That’s simply not a natural flow state for France’s longest-serving head coach, who prioritises balance and conservatism, as well as selecting a squad that compliments each other with a variety of skill sets. SPEARHEAD The insistence on starting Olivier Giroud highlights Deschamps’ stubborn nature. Despite a lack of domestic game time, the Chelsea forward has always been France’s preferred option to spearhead the national side;

70 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

DIDIER DESCHAMPS In charge since France’s Euro 2012 debacle, doubts were cast over disciplinarian DIDIER DESCHAMPS’ ability to pick the best, most balanced side from the outstanding options available to him. The 52-yearold silenced the critics with a memorable World Cup triumph in Russia, following on from similar success as Les Blues skipper back in 1998. The former midfielder is France’s longest-serving coach and previously guided Monaco to the Champions League final in 2004.

the veteran’s selfless link play, ability to occupy centrehalves and get the best out of Antoine Griezmann has proven a real asset for Les Blues. Giroud may not have scored in Russia back in 2018, but in each of France’s two previous major tournament appearances, his presence and performance enabled Griezmann to flourish in his role as the side’s support striker. PHENOMENAL Kylian Mbappe’s searing pace will give France a phenomenal threat from the right, yet Deschamps has kept the equilibrium on-point by picking a more conservative option from the left. Blaise Matuidi and Moussa Sissoko have operated here before and Adrien Rabiot appears the most likely option to fill the void despite an underwhelming spell with Juventus. A strict disciplinarian, Deschamps has cultivated a healthy atmosphere inside camp, a far cry from the days of infighting and embarrassment of 2010. However, the nononsense coach performed a surprise U-turn in March by recalling Karim Benzema


inevitable scrutiny, Benzema will only add to an already exceptional attacking arsenal.

back into the fold after a six-year absence due to an ongoing court case with former teammate Mathieu Valbuena. EXCEPTIONAL France’s first XI had looked steady, settled and dependable but with Benzema in the form of his life, Deschamps decided a clearthe-air chat between the two, plus the support from squad members, was good enough to give the Real Madrid star a second chance. Despite the

DID YOU KNOW? n France have reached the final in five of their last 11 major tournaments since reaching the semi-finals at Euro ‘96. n Five of the past six pretournament favourites have reached at least the semifinal stage of the European Championships. n Ten (40%) of France’s 25 goals in Euro 2020 qualifying came via set-pieces.

TACTIAL BRIEFING

France have since been edged into tournament favouritism with most firms offering no bigger than 5/1 on Les Blues collecting a third continental crown. With a glittering squad to select from and the steady-hand of Deschamps overseeing matters, it’s easy to see why the market has maximum respect for the class of 2021. RESERVATIONS However, there are a couple of reservations to note before taking the plunge. France will have to be on it from the off as Les Blues face two of their Group F games away, kicking off their campaign against Germany in Munich before taking on Hungary in Budapest. With Portugal also waiting in the wings, it’s a far from straightforward pool to navigate.

Didier Deschamps has experimented with a three-man defence but looks likely to revert to his preferred 4-2-3-1 system used throughout the Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba at the base of midfield, Antoine Griezmann playing behind a central striker with Kylian Mbappe and Adrien

Rabiot on either side. Karim Benzema should be given the nod up top, whilst Raphael Varane and Presnel Kimpembe lead the way amongst Les Bleus’ envious array of centre-back options. Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard are in pole position for starts at full-back.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP ANTOINE GRIEZMANN Karim Benzema’s return to the France set-up has hit the headlines, whilst Kylian Mbappe’s standing as Les Blues’ main man cannot be ignored. But Euro 2016 top goalscorer (and joint-top World Cup 2018 scorer) ANTOINE GRIEZMANN has been eased to 4/1 (Bet365) to head the Top France Goalscorer betting

and that looks a little too big to leave alone. Griezmann was the star and ever-present performer during qualification and has been backed by Didier Deschamps despite issues at club level. In March the Barcelona forward set a new national record after starting a consecutive 45th game, and he remains one of Les Blues’ chief operators in the current regime.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Few can dispute France’s tag as pre-tournament favourites this summer with Les Blues’ secondstring squad arguably good enough to feature at the top end of the betting. With course and distance form under the astute Didier Deschamps, the world champions may not always entertain but their tried-and-trusted formula is suited to knockout football. Built from the back, it’s easy to forget France’s eye-

catching counter-attacking expertise en-route to 2018 World Cup success where Les Blues scored four goals against both Argentina and Croatia, highlighting their threat in the final-third. Comfortable containing, the searing speed of Kylian Mbappe will be an undoubted asset when possession is turned over. Curiously, despite marked out as outright favs, France don’t head the betting to win Group F and that looks a

touch unfair. Quotes of 17/10 (Betfair) appeal despite a difficult draw. Elsewhere, work horse N’Golo Kante has enjoyed a superb 2021 and his influence is essential. If France are to feature on the podium, the Parisian’s reading of the game, effervescent energy and decision-making BEST will proveNEXT pivotal and bulbous 66/1TO (Betfair) odds 5.5 on the SCORE OVER Chelsea ace for Player of GOALS the (10/11 Tournament areHILL) worth a WILLIAM second look.

WLB NAP FRANCE TO WIN GROUP F 17/10 BETFAIR NEXT BEST N’GOLO KANTE TO BE PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT (66/1 BETFAIR)

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 71


GROUP F

FRANCE | GERMANY | HUNGARY | PORTUGAL

GERMANY Low is desperate to sign-off in style by leading Germany to a fourth European Championship title It’s difficult to analyse Germany without investing the majority of focus on boss Joachim Low. The longest-serving coach in international football is in the midst on his 15th year in charge of Die Mannschaft, a tenure that includes unquestionable success with the Bundestrainer guiding the group to at least the semifinals in five of six major tournaments.

instigated by the DFB at the start of the millennium following the nation’s previous major tournament mishap. INVESTMENT The German authorities acted decisively, pumping investment into creating a high-quality grassroots system that focussed on coaching. It didn’t take long for world class talent to emerge.

DISASTER Of course, the scars of the 2018 World Cup remain raw and many fans felt the 61-yearold should have shuffled aside in the aftermath of that disaster. Eager to amend the Russian catastrophe, Low is desperate to sign-off in style this summer by leading Germany to a fourth European Championship title - 2021 is bound to be his biggest test.

The 2009 U21 European Championship winning side included the likes of Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Mesut Ozil, and their integration into the senior set-up inspired the 2014 World Cup triumph in Brazil. The DFB were rightly lauded for their forward-thinking strategy and impressive succession planning.

Low has been a beneficiary of a revolution and rethink

PRECOCIOUS 2014 generation

The

72 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

are

MEET THE BOSS

JOACHIM LOW Appointed Germany boss in July 2006 following a stint as Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistant, JOACHIM LOW has spent 15 years working with Die Mannschaft and is credited with revolutionising the team’s style of play and putting Germany back on the top table. International football’s longest-serving boss, Low guided the group to World Cup glory in 2014 after countless near misses and the 61-year-old is due to step down this summer.

beginning to wane but in their place comes a new collection of potential world beaters from Germany’s excellent academy structure: Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry, Niklas Sule and Leroy Sane have all made their case to be regular starters this summer, whilst the precocious Jamal Musiala has been fast-tracked to the senior squad. Getting the best out of Germany’s copious collection has proven a challenge for Low, particularly without a true number nine to call upon. Nevertheless, few can compete with midfield options such as Toni Kroos, Ilkay Gundogan, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka – big name players with a world of experience on the biggest stage. SUPERPOWERS The centre of the park is undoubtedly Die Mannschaft’s main strength. Comfortable and competent on the ball, Germany have the ability to play possession-based football, following in the footsteps of continental superpowers Manchester City and Bayern Munich. However, given the attacking options, a more counterattacking approach that


utilises the pace of Timo Werner, Gnabry and Sane can also be explored. Chuck in the returning Thomas Muller to the equation and Germany possess skill, speed, guile and physicality in an exciting interchanging front three and that’s without mentioning Havertz. VULNERABLE Elsewhere, there’s been a recall for Mats Hummels. Jettisoned following the 2018 debale, the Dortmund defender is prone to mistakes and looks vulnerable in a flat back-four so the potential to switch to a three-man rearguard alongside Antonio Rudiger and Sule could provide the group with greater protection. RB Leipzig duo Lukas Klostermann and Marcel Halstenberg are defensive-

DID YOU KNOW? n Germany suffered their first-ever group-stage exit at the World Cup in 2018, whilst their 6-0 defeat to Spain in November was country’s worst-ever competitive defeat. n Germany have reached the semi-finals in six of their past eight European Championship finals but only once accumulated maximum group-stage points. n Of the 24 qualified nations, only Croatia (1.62) have conceded more goals pergame than Germany (1.38) in competitive games since the 2018 World Cup.

minded options at full back but there’s been talk of Robin Gosens and Jonas Hoffmann playing as wing backs too, so it will be interesting to see what Low opts for in the fascinatingly poised Group F. ERRORS Sorting out the backline has to be Low’s priority. Die Mannschaft have conceded an average of 1.38 goals pergame since the summer of 2018 - even group outsiders Hungary have shipped fewer – with performances dogged by elementary errors and slapstick defensive mistakes. Entertainment is expected when Germany are around – only Belgium’s games produced a higher goals pergame average since the 2018 World Cup - but fixing the leak is essential if Low’s wish to sign-off with silverware is to be realised this summer.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

After failed experiments with a 3-4-3 system, Joachim Low reverted back to his tried-andtested 4-3-3 for March’s World Cup qualifiers. Timo Werner, Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, Leroy Sane and the returning Thomas Muller provide plenty of forward options.

Pace and proficiency in attack ensures Germany have the ability to play on the counter-attack, whilst their midfield strength in depth is envious. However, Die Mannschaft have looked far from secure defensively and are short on star quality at full-back.

the off for Germany and with that in mind, looks a little too big at 6/1 (Bet365) to take

the Top Team Goalscorer honours.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP THOMAS MULLER Joachim Low prematurely discarded THOMAS MULLER from his squad following the 2018 World Cup but has opted to recall the decorated Bayern Munich star following another exceptional campaign. The free-wheeling mystro has never been the most prolific goalscorer but boasts an excellent major tournament record for Die Mannschaft. The 31-year-old is expected to feature from

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT The frailties of this Germany side have been evident ever since the side crashed out of the 2018 World Cup at the very first stage. Severe questioning of character and capability followed, and whilst Joachim Low has presided over small change, the issues from Russia haven’t been completely covered up with many of the fault

lines still evident. Germany may enjoy home advantage in Group F but given the quality of opposition, it’s difficult to imagine a defence that shipped six to Spain only last year is capable of keeping the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe quiet. Therefore, taking Germany to concede Over 2.5 Group

F goals at 4/6 (Unibet) looks a solid avenue of attack. A final round fixture against Hungary should produce top honours but the chances of Die Mannschaft overcoming a stubborn Portugal and world champions France is questionable considering their aforementioned flaws. With that in mind, Under 5.5 Group F Points is also worthy of an interest at 4/6 (Pinnacle).

WLB NAP TO CONCEDE OVER 2.5 GROUP-STAGE GOALS 4/6 UNIBET NEXT BEST UNDER 5.5 GROUPSTAGE POINTS (4/6 PINNACLE)

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 73


GROUP F

FRANCE | GERMANY | HUNGARY | PORTUGAL

HUNGARY Rossi has engineered something special, dramatically altering the mood Hungary have a rich pedigree in the global game. The Magical Magyars, the legendary team of the 1950s, revolutionised the way football is played. Losing just once across a six-year spell and spearheaded by the legendary Ferenc Puskas, the team tabled three Olympic gold medals and two World Cup silvers during a golden era for Hungarian football. TORRID TIME But the Magyars endured a torrid time of it since the fall of communism in 1989, failing to feature in a major tournament from 1986. However, Hungary defied all expectation to clinch a place at Euro 2016, and upset the odds despite being pitted as potential pushovers in a pool with dark horses Austria, well-fancied Portugal and an

awkward Iceland outfit. Belgium abruptly ended Hungarian hopes at the last16 stage five summers ago but the campaign sparked renewed fervour, united a nation and instigated a timely renaissance between the senior side and long-suffering supporters. MISGUIDED Many anticipated a campaign of change across the domestic game thereafter but such optimism proved misguided. Sliding back into a slumber, the Magyars spectacularly failed to fire with a dismal defeat to Andorra the nadir of a miserable 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign. it wasn’t until Italian boss Marco Rossi joined the group that baby steps of progress began to be seen – Nations League

74 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

MEET THE BOSS

MARCO ROSSI Italian boss MARCO ROSSI and assistant Cosimo Inguscio took Honved to a first Hungarian title for 24 years in 2017 before the highlyrespected pair were given the national team gig in June 2018. The 56-year-old former defender has experience of coaching in Slovakia as well as his homeland.

promotion (despite finishing second) and a crucial play-off place was assured. Inconsistency continued to blight Hungary. Both Croatia and Wales were turned over in Budapest during Euro 2020 qualifying but belowpar efforts on the road saw the Magyars miss out on a top-two finish. Nevertheless, Rossi has since engineered something special, overseeing a spell of just one defeat in 11 (W7-D3-L1) and dramatically altering the mood. REMARKABLE In fairness, locals are probably still punch-drunk following Hungary’s astonishing playoff success against Iceland that secured their passage to this summer’s jamboree. A remarkable strike in stoppagetime from star man Dominik Szoboszlai completed a stunning turnaround. The raucous celebrations from 2016 returned and the feeling of euphoria still lingers. Handed a devilishly difficult Group F draw alongside pre-tournament favourites France, defending champions Portugal and European powerhouse Germany, the Magyars could be forgiven for feeling a degree of trepidation about the upcoming


tournament. But the mood in Budapest remains upbeat with Hungary hosting the former pair in the first two fixtures. INFLUENCE The form and fitness of pinup boy Szoboszlai is the only issue bothering Hungarian minds approaching Euro 2020. The 20-year-old hasn’t featured at all for RB Leipzig since making a recordbreaking move for a Hungarian in January, and his influence on Rossi’s side is impossible to replicate. Without the setpiece extraordinaire, it’s hard to be positive. Of course, Leipzig teammates Peter Gulacsi and Willi Orban provide a solid base at the back and Rossi

will be keen to ensure the Magyars are no easy meet this summer. The former defender is ably assisted by compatriot Cosimo Ingusio where a solid structure and three-man defence brought exceptional results during a stint with capital club Honved. UNDERDOGS A similar set-up is anticipated, although Hungary could also opt for a more pragmatic approach considering the high-class opponents in Group F. Zsolt Kalmar’s injury already leaves the group a little lighter in the midfield pivot, whilst the underdogs are also lacking in penalty box expertise, making Szoboszlai’s availability imperative for any hope of progress.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Hungary have largely setup in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 system but Italian coach Marco Rossi switched to a 3-4-1-2 in September 2020, a formation that worked so well in his domestic success with Honved. The move was influenced by the emergence of precociously talented Dominik Szoboszlai and

DID YOU KNOW? n Hungary are in the midst of a nine-game unbeaten streak since October 2020, the nation’s best run of results since 1972.

gives the group greater protection to support for the RB Leizpig star. Szoboszlai supports a front two of Adam Szalai and Roland Sallai with wing-backs encouraged to get forward. Adam Nagy does the dirty work in midfield alongside the lively Laszlo Kleinheisler. Willie Orban leads from the back.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI

n Hungary won just four Euro 2020 qualifying games, collecting only 12 points, the lowest return of all 24 competing nations. n Hungary’s 25 competitive games since September 2018 have averaged 5.28 cards per-game and 54.60 Booking Points per-game.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Hungary kick-off their Euro 2020 campaign as significant underdogs in the Group of Death. Expected Points (xP) derived from pre-tournament match prices make the Magyars the largest outsiders of all to progress to the knockout stages and so Marco Rossi’s men will know home advantage in their opening two fixtures is critical to avoiding an early exit. An unbeaten run of results – the nation’s best since the

1970s – has raised spirits back home but an overreliance on Dominik Szoboszlai causes concern with the future star’s involvement still unknown. Creative inspiration and chance conversion remains a major issue and Hungary look unlikely to gain many favours in tough home fixtures. With a final round shootout against Germany in Munich, a pointless campaign is an unfortunate but entirely plausible possibility.

WLB NAP HUNGARY UNDER 1.5 POINTS 4/6 PINNACLE NEXT BEST HUNGARY TO COLLECT 0 POINTS (7/4 SKYBET)

Sidelined by an abductor injury since joining RB Leipzig as Hungary’s most expensive player, DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI faces a race against time to be fit for Euro 2020. The Magyars wonder boy is a set-piece specialist, and scored a sensational late winner to secure Hungary’s place in this summer’s competition against Iceland. Likened to Kevin De Bruyne in the early stages of the Belgian’s career, the 20-year-old’s influence on the national team cannot be underestimated. A tasty 12/1 (Bet365) to earn Top Hungary Goalscorer honours appeals should full fitness be regained.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 75


GROUP F

FRANCE | GERMANY | HUNGARY | PORTUGAL

PORTUGAL recent history points to a Portuguese side that knows how to find their way into the knockout format Portugal are in the midst of an eye-catching golden generation. Never before have the Iberians enjoyed such wealth and riches with the Selecao squad significantly stronger since conquering the continent at Euro 2016. World class playing personnel that are accustomed to the big occasion, consistency in approach with tried and trusted course and distance form, plus a solid defence, form a potent tailor-made cocktail for knockout football that marks Portugal out as serious challengers for top honours. SUCCESS Under the watch of the diligent Fernando Santos, the Selecao have become a force to be reckoned with. The defending champions followed up their success with

a Nations League triumph in 2019, adding further fuel to the Portuguese fire with silverware now customary and mind-sets moving from nearly men to being the men to beat. MASTER Despite Santos being a master of knockout football, we must not forget that his 2016 side progressed without winning a single group-stage game. Following three draws and a fortunate route into the latter stages, the Selecao bizarrely managed to succeed just once in 90 minutes, against Wales in the semi-finals when Portugal were strong favourites. It means the 10/1 (Spreadex) on Portugal to go the distance once again may look an attractive price given their propensity to grind progress

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MEET THE BOSS

FERNANDO SANTOS FERNANDO SANTOS has lost just 18 of his 131 games as an international boss across stints with Greece and Portugal. And the 66-yearold has suffered just four competitive losses in seven years in charge of the Selecao. Injury wrecked the former full-backs playing days at 21 and before he turned his attention to coaching, Santos worked as an electrician. The wily tactician is one of the few men in world football to have taken charge of Portugal’s top three clubs.

out, however, being housed in the Group of Death alongside host nation Germany and world champions France – both of whom are shorter in the betting – makes for an interesting conundrum. ELITE Why? Well, for all their obvious match-winning ability, there are reservations around. Many of the squads leading lights ply their trade for elite teams in Europe and the likes of Bernardo Silva, Joao Cancelo and Ruben Dias will arrive after a long season with Manchester City that culminates in the Champions League final just a fortnight before the action gets underway. Bruno Fernandes has clocked up a mountain of minutes for Manchester United, and veteran centre half Jose Fonte has also endured an emotionally draining season with Lille after their againstthe-odds Ligue 1 title triumph. Meanwhile, talismanic skipper Cristiano Ronaldo remains an essential cog for Santos yet the 36-year-old isn’t as mobile as he once was. FRESH That being said, the depth at Portugal’s disposal is now far greater than what was


available five years ago. Diogo Jota has missed a decent portion of 2021 so should be relatively fresh, Andre Silva has lit up the Bundesliga with 28 goals this season - a record only bettered by Robert Lewandowski – and Pedro Goncalves excelled in Liga NOS with Sporting. There’s a worry the exciting attacking options will be hampered by a more riskaverse approach but recent history points to a Portuguese side that knows how to find their way into the knockout format. Remarkably, the

Selecao have progressed past the group-stage in all seven previous Euros appearances, wining the pool on four occasions. So even if Santos’ conservatism doesn’t allow us to enjoy Portugal at their free-flowing best, there’s an expectation on this group to reach the last-16. Having scratched their way there in 2016, the continental kings should be capable of repeating the feat this time around and from there on in, there are few sides who are better set up than the Selecao.

TACTICAL BRIEFING

Portugal were victorious at Euro 2016 with a narrow 4-4-2 that featured four central midfielders across the park. That system remains Fernando Santos’ favourite but the abundance of emerging attacking options has meant an evolution towards 4-3-3 could be on the cards this summer.

DID YOU KNOW? n Portugal have suffered only four competitive defeats in 56 meaningful matches under Fernando Santos’ management since September 2014.

n Only Spain (8.17) of the 24 nations at Euro 2020 have averaged more corners pergame than Portugal (7.74) in competitive contests since the 2018 World Cup. n Spain (2008 and 2012) are the only nation to successfully defend their Euros crown in the competition’s history.

WELOVEBETTING VERDICT Fernando Santos is arguably the most astute of all Euro 2020 coaches and the wily veteran’s pedigree in elite international competition should stand Portugal in good stead. Built from the back, Santos’ pragmatism means the Selecao are rarely involved in high-scoring shootouts despite possessing a gluttony of attacking options in the final-third. We can grab 8/11 (SkyBet) on Portugal scoring Under 6.5 Goals and that does

appeal considering the highclass opposition standing in the Iberians Group F way.

After all, it’s difficult to dismiss a Santos side.

Taking on Germany and Hungary in their own back yard will test the current crop, who must also face tournament favourites France in a mouthwatering finale.

WLB NAP TO SCORE UNDER 6.5 GOALS

Finishing third in the pool could once again be on the cards – a 13/8 (William Hill) shot – but don’t be too surprised if the Selecao still manage to navigate their way to the final-four

NEXT BEST TO FINISH 3RD IN GROUP F (13/8WILLIAM HILL)

8/11 SKYBET

Two defensive-minded players will feature in midfield, providing the base for a seductive forwardline that could feature Cristiano Ronaldo, plus three from Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix, Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva with Andre Silva waiting in the wings.

TOP GOALSCORER TIP Cristiano Ronaldo Captain CRISTIANO RONALDO will take on the goalscoring mantle for Portugal. The Selecao – and Real Madrid’s – all-time top marksman plundered 18 goals from 19 international appearances since the World Cup to take his tally to 103 goals from 173 caps. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner is seeking to overhaul Ali Daei’s international goalscoring record (109), concluded the Serie A campaign with 29 goals and became the first footballer to finish as top scorer in the English, Spanish, and Italian topflights. The 36-year-old is 11/10 (Bet365) to finish as Top Portugal Goalscorer and a 17/1 (Unibet) for outright goalscoring glory.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 77


STAT PACK

GROUP f All the stats you need to compare each team in the group from their Euro 2020 & Nations League qualifying campaigns

Matches Played

FRANCE

GERMANY

HUNGARY

PORTUGAL

FIFA Ranking: 2

FIFA Ranking: 12

FIFA Ranking: 37

FIFA Ranking: 5

23

21

25

23

W17-D4-L2

W11-D5-L5

W14-D4-L7

W15-D6-L2

Goals Scored

1.96

2.29

1.56

2.13

Goals Conceded

0.70

1.38

1.08

0.74

Results

Goals Per-Game

2.65

3.67

2.64

2.87

0-0-Draw

9%

5%

4%

13%

Over 1.5 Goals

74%

90%

72%

70%

Over 2.5 Goals

48%

71%

48%

52%

Over 3.5 Goals

26%

43%

24%

39%

Both Teams To Score

43%

52%

44%

48%

Over 1.5 Team Goals

57%

62%

52%

57%

Failed To Score

17%

14%

24%

17%

Clean Sheets

48%

38%

36%

48%

Win and BTTS

35%

19%

24%

30%

Lose and BTTS

0%

14%

8%

4%

Win to Nil

39%

33%

32%

35%

Lose to Nil

9%

10%

20%

4%

Corners For

5.87

6.48

4.88

7.74

Corners Against

3.13

3.48

3.40

3.78

Total Corners

9.00

9.95

8.28

11.52

Cards For

1.48

1.24

2.84

1.39

Cards Against

1.57

1.24

2.44

2.48

Total Cards

3.04

2.48

5.28

3.87

Booking Pts For

14.78

13.10

30.20

14.57

Booking Pts Against

15.65

13.10

24.40

28.04

Total Booking Pts

30.43

26.19

54.60

42.61

Shots For

13.57

15.24

11.92

17.61

Shots Against

6.74

10.10

9.48

7.83

Shot Ratio

67%

60%

56%

69%

Shots-on-Target For

5.52

6.57

4.96

7.22

Shots-on-Target Against

2.70

4.10

3.64

2.57

Shots-on-Target Ratio

67%

62%

58%

74%

xG For

2.00

2.03

1.35

2.16

xG Against

0.89

1.48

1.12

1.02

xG Ratio

69%

58%

55%

68%

Possession

59%

61%

51%

56%

Data includes each nation’s competitive games since the 2018 World Cup

78 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


AT A GLANCE AVG. TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH 3.67

BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE

France

2.64

France

% TOTAL GOALS PER MATCH

2.87

2.65

Hungary

France

Germany

Germany

Hungary

Portugal

Hungary

Germany

Goals per game

% OVER 1.5 GOALS FOR 60

Portugal

Portugal

50 40 30 20

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 Over 1.5

Over 2.5

0

10 0

Over 3.5

France

AVG. CORNERS PER MATCH

5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 BTTS

Germany Hungary Portugal

AVG. BOOKINGS POINTS

12

14.57

10

Win & BTTS

Win to nil

% CLEAN SHEETS 50

14.78

45 40

8

35

6

30

Bookings Points For

4

25 20

13.10

2

15

30.20

0

10

France Germany Hungary Portugal

5 0

For

Against

France

France

France

Germany

Germany

Hungary

Hungary Portugal

0

2

4

Shots

6

8

10

12

On Target

14

16

Hungary

France

Portugal

AVG. SHOTS CONCEDED PER MATCH

Portugal

AVG. SHOTS PER MATCH

Germany

18

0

Scored

Germany Hungary Portugal

EXPECTED GOALS (XG) 2.03

1.35

2.00

2.16

xG For 1.48

1.02

0.89

1

2

3

Shots

4

5

6

On Target

7

8

1.12

xG Against

9 10 11

Conceded

France

Germany

Hungary

Portugal

AVG. POSSESSION France Germany Hungary Portugal 0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 79


OUTRIGHT WINNER

INTO THE BLEU Who will be crowned kings of the continent in the 16th edition of European football’s premier international tournament? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been asking myself that question at least four times a day for the past six months. But after hour and hours of deliberation, I finally settled on my plan of attack. Before revealing the three nations that I feel offer value in the market, it’s worth having a quick peek at a few trends, and more importantly, the schedule and draw – after all, it may have a major role to play in the lifespan of your selection.

in seven of the last nine tournaments, an encouraging omen for England who could Since Euro ’96, the average play all bar one game at price of a European Wembley should they reach Championship winner is the final. 23/1 but of course Greece’s unthinkable triumph at Euro Co-hosts of the 2008 and 2004 is bang out of sync. 2012 renewals bombed out Exclude that tournament at the group-stage, although and the average winner it could be argued the odds are just 8/1 across the quality of the home sides remaining five competitions were weak. Even so, all four with four of the champions (Poland, Ukraine, Austria quoted between 3/1 and 13/2. and Switzerland) actually their best-ever Portugal (20/1) the anomaly achieved performances at the finals. in 2016. AVERAGE ODDS & FRUITFUL FAVOURITES

For example, winners of Groups A and D will play a runner-up from Groups C and F respectively, whilst treetoppers from Groups B, C, E and F take-on third-placed sides in the last-16. On top of that, finish second in Groups A, B, D and E and you won’t take on a group winner, instead you’ll be facing a fellow runner-up in the first knockout round.

Pre-tournament betting since Euro ’92 has also tended to be reasonably accurate with favourites or co-favourites finding their way to at least the semi-final stage in six of seven examples, with four going the distance and two ultimately ending up with the trophy.

The above appears most significant for England. Should the hosts justify market favourite position in Group D, a nation from the Group of Death (F) awaits in the second stage. In contrast, finish second in the pool and a second-placed side housed in Group E (Spain, Poland, Sweden, Ukraine) awaits, arguably a more manageable route to the last-eight.

France came close five years ago but you have to go back to 1984 for the last time a host nation delivered outright glory at the European Championship. Nevertheless, a host nation made the semifinals

PROSPEROUS HOSTS & QUALIFCATION CLUES

two (9%) made the final – Spain and Italy in 2012 - whilst nine (41%) fell at the first hurdle. SHOCKS & SURPRISES

The European Championship has a history of producing surprise results - Denmark getting off the beach in 1992, Czech Republic reaching the final in 1996, Greece! Even Portugal were unfancied despite the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2016, and the diversity of previous winners is quite extraordinary Indeed, of the last 11 hosts when you drill into the history or co-hosts that excludes of the competition. debutants, five matched their best-ever European Ten different nations have Championship performances, claimed the Henri Delaunay another indication for Three Trophy from 15 previous Lions fans to believe the glass competitions. Since 1984, ceiling at the Euros could be seven sides have been crowned in eight editions of broken this summer. the Euros with another seven Elsewhere, the past six different teams reaching the continental kings all semi-finals, highlighting the topped their openness around the outright q u a l i f i c a t i o n market. groups en- In this pandemic-influenced route to the campaign, it could well be finals but the survival of the fittest of the 22 as almost every competing n a t i o n s nation is flawed in one way or to come another. t h r o u g h qualification It’s a fascinating puzzle to try without a and unpack and I’ve therefore defeat across selected my outright wagers the previous based on form, fitness, s e v e n and suitability to knockout campaigns, only football.


FRANCE 5/1 BETFAIR

Ordinarily, I’d be looking to oppose the market frontrunners, particularly at 5/1 quotes. Yet I admire any punter that’s capable of overlooking Les Blues’ claims this summer. L e t ’ s get the elephant out of the room first – the group. Yes, France are accommodated in the infamous Group of Death alongside hosts Germany, home nation Hungary and defending champions Portugal. To illustrate the standard, three of the top six teams in the outright betting are housed in Group F, taking up 36.7% of the Outright Winner market.

be particularly phased by their opponents considering the incredible depth of quality at their disposal. Stacked in almost every position, you’re nitpicking if you feel significant upgrades are required in the goalkeeping department with captain Hugo Lloris keeping guard, or at full-back where Bayern Munich pair Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard epitomise the pragmatism and discipline imposed by Deschamps. There’s course and distance form fresh in the memory from Russia three years ago, unmatched firepower across the front three, and the return of Karim Benzema from international exile could prove to be the gamechanger that allows Les Blues to cement their place at the very top of the

Should Didier Deschamps’ outfit fail to finish top of the pile, a potential last-16 bout with second favourites England at Wembley is possible, international adding a circuit. further hurdle for France to Whilst Benzema, overcome. But the Kylian Mbappe, World Cup winners won’t Antoine Griezmann and

Paul Pogba w i l l hog the headlines, it’s the strong structure and defensive foundations that make France the No team has ever won standout selection. back-to-back World Cup and European Major tournaments tend to Championship titles twice, be won by nations that are but it’s difficult to argue capable of squeezing their against France breaking way through tight and the mould this summer – tense knockout fixtures, they’re fair favourites at a redeeming feature of the top of the market and France three years ago. my favourite fancy.

No team has ever won back-toback World Cup and European Championship titles twice, but it’s difficult to argue against France breaking the mould this summer WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 81


PORTUGAL 10/1 e/w BET365

architect in France five years ago and followed it up with a home N a t i o n s L e a g u e triumph in 2019. An expert in organising a side for tournament football, the Selecao have suffered just four competitive defeats in his seven-year stint.

S p a i n are the only side to successfully defend their European Championship crown but after securing their first slice of silverware in 2016, 10/1 (Betfair) shots Portugal have the capacity to emulate their Iberian neighbours this summer.

centre-back partnership of Pepe (now 38) and Jose Fonte (37) is reaching the end of the road and a partner is needed for new first-choice centre-back Ruben Dias. A deeper defensive line and risk-adverse strategy from Santos should solve doubts in that department. Concerns of fatigue and fitness are also valid considering t h e physicallydraining campaign

Now the country’s longest-serving coach, Santos has been handed an extended deal until 2024, a reward for turning Portugal from pretty pretenders into prime candidates. His ability to produce stubborn, dogged and pragmatic performances from a collection of global superstars has to be admired, despite calls for a more adventurous approach.

Few nations can match the Selecao’s recent Euros pedigree with Portugal In fairness, the veteran boss progressing past the has largely discarded group-stage in all the narrow 4-4seven previous 2 from Euro appearances 2016 in favour – on five of a more occasions, expansive a semi4-3-3 that final berth a l l o w s or better Santos to has been squeeze achieved the likes of - and with Cristiano a golden Ronaldo, generation Joao Felix, blossoming, Bernardo t h e r e ’ s Silva, Bruno potentially Fernandes and/ more to come from or Diogo Jota into Fernando Santos’ squad. the mix. Never before have Portugal boasted such an Santos is a prime reason to awe-inspiring squad at the believe in the Portuguese. peak of their powers. A shrewd and capable However, like the majority head coach, the scowling of rivals in the market, there 66-year-old was the are issues to iron out. The

82 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

Few nations can match the Selecao’s recent Euros pedigree and there’s potentially more to come from Fernando Santos’ squad.

m a n y h a v e endured, plus there’s the Group of Dearth to navigate with away trips to Germany and Hungary followed by a mouthwatering matchup with Euro 2016 finalists France. Even so, progression as a third-place team is plausible as a worst case scenario. The Selecao might fail to inspire and struggle to capture the imagination considering the exceptional attacking arsenal available. But they’re wonderfully efficient, bloody tough to beat and possess the X-Factor required to navigate the knockout phase - no Euro 2020 nation will relish taking on the defending champions.


DENMARK 33/1 e/w SBK

Twenty-nine years after upsetting the odds to clinch a sensational European Championship in Sweden, Denmark deserve to be taken seriously again, More than just dark horses, the Scandinavians should be considered o u t r i g h t contenders.

Group B’s runner-up avoids a pool winner in the last-16 and from there the Netherlands stand in their way at the quarterfinal phase should the draw play out to market expectations.

The Dutch have grown in stature in recent years but they’re still far from The Red- intimidating for a Denmark White were side that’s proven masters a v a i l a b l e at avoiding defeat. at odds as big as 100/1 In terms of personnel, less than they’re functional rather 12 months than flashy yet there’s ago, but with a super-solid spine to a manageable group- Hjulmand’s side. In Kasper stage draw that includes Schmeichel, Andreas home advantage in Christensen, Simon Kjaer, Copenhagen, a reasonable Pierre-Emile Hjojberg, run to a possible semi- Christian Eriksen, Martin final appearance, and their Braithwaite and Yussuf devilishly difficult to beat Poulsen you’ve a heady nature, Kasper Hjulmand’s mix of craft, guile, men can be circled as legitimate challengers.

they’re functional rather than flashy yet there’s a supersolid spine to Hjulmand’s side physicality and flair, as Denmark are a team with well as obvious set-piece all the attributes to go well threats. this summer – don’t worry about missing the threefigure price, there’s still plenty of juice to go around…

Denmark – ousted at the 2018 World Cup on penalties by eventual finalists Croatia - have been beaten just twice in competitive action since October 2016 - both to world number one and Group B rivals Belgium. If the Red Devils repeat the feat in the middle match of the pool, don’t despair. The Red-White still have the schedule to prosper.

WLBGOLD

Don’t miss Mark’s daily tips on his WLBGold private Telegram Channel. Join at Gambla.co.uk

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 83


BOOKIES INSIGHT

TH3 PRIC£ I$ R1GHT THE INSIDE TRACK ON HOW BOOKIES APPROACH PRICING MARKETS JASON MURPHY @jasonjmurphy1

at Betfair and Paddy Power is a little more detailed than that. It is also a hell of a lot more difficult pricing up international football than any domestic league. Even so, I love difficulty because it creates opportunity.

Jason Murphy, an odds compiler with Paddy Power and Betfair, gives us the lowdown on how BENCHMARK bookies approach pricing In a 20-team league we have closing prices, and easily markets. If you want to back a Euro 2020 outright winner then take France or England, because those are the two teams most likely to result in a winning selection. However, if you are reading this, you understand that not every bet will be a winning bet, that’s just life. You do understand value though, and that is what I am looking to give you. RATINGS Many factors go into pricing a major international football tournament, the most important of which is team ratings. You can, for a bit of fun, create your own simple set of ratings. Write down your best XI for France and England. Score each player out of 10, and sum them up. What scores did you get? Well, if you are offered the same price on France and England in a final to win it, then whoever you have scored highest may be the value bet to you. How we compile our ratings

accessible stats (xG) from 380 games a season to refine our ratings. Each team plays each other twice, and that gives a good benchmark to compare against.

Normal domestic season with 20 teams (9 months) Matches feat 2 teams in the league

380

100%

Approx 599 Competitive International Matches in Europe feat 55 teams since 2018 World Cup (30 months) Matches feat 1 Euro 2020 team

242

40%

Matches feat 2 Euro 2020 teams

139

23%

But since the 2018 World Cup we have had fewer than 600 international competitive games - I do not use international friendlies, so the newly introduced Nations League games have helped a lot in that regard.

England. Only 139 (23%) of the matches are between two teams playing at Euro 2020, versus the 380 games we get within a 20-team domestic league. Hopefully, this helps illustrate some of the challenges of pricing international football (but also the opportunities). Of some of the relevant games, how much weight do you give to them? Say England’s closing price (1.79) vs Croatia in the Nations League in November 2018? Compared with the current exchange price for this summer’s meeting, where England are 1.76? The reduced Wembley crowd this time may move the supremacy 0.15 of a goal against England - the 1.79 out to 1.89 - but England have also improved (in my opinion) a lot since November 2018 so maybe that more than offsets the reduced home advantage to get to the 1.76. So, now 1.79 back then and the 1.76 this summer could both be right (or not)…

However, the data set from these international matches is inferior to a domestic season for several reasons. It is spread out over 30 months; the closing lines are less efficient; and other data is not as accurate or just not accessible (xG). These international games also feature 55 teams, less than half of which will be competing at the Euros this summer.

ADVANTAGE How much difference will home advantage make to England this summer in general? Well, say you have England and France rated the same and playing at a neutral venue, England would have a 50% chance of lifting the trophy. Now look how that

No disrespect to any Andorran or Sammarinese readers, but a fair chunk of those 600 games are of no use when trying to rate France against Pricing one potential Euro 2020 final match on July 12th 90 Minute Betting

Lift Trophy

Factors that move prices

Team 1

Team 2

ENG

DRAW

FRA

ENG

FRA

Venue

Team Rating

Venue

ENGLAND

FRANCE

2.85

3.35

2.85

50%

50%

Neutral

Same

None

ENGLAND

FRANCE

2.25

3.46

3.75

62%

38%

Full Wembley

Same

None

ENGLAND

FRANCE

2.60

3.37

3.15

55%

45%

Empty Wembley

Same

None

ENGLAND

FRANCE

2.76

3.35

2.94

52%

48%

Empty Wembley

FRA ‘X’ goal better

None

ENGLAND

FRANCE

3.15

3.36

2.60

45%

55%

Empty Wembley

FRA ‘X’ goal better

Kane

84 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE


jumps to 62% if England have advantage of a full Wembley! Now say COVID-19 restrictions kick-in and plunge the tournament back behind closed doors. It’s still advantage England, as they have the home comforts of knowing the pitch, dressing rooms etc, although the price move isn’t quite so significant. Star players and team news also move prices. If you did the exercise above, any absent player that you rated 10 out of 10 (probably Harry Kane or Kylian Mbappe) would move the price a lot more than any player you scored lower down the rankings (i.e. Jordan Pickford and Hugo Lloris, 1 out of 10). BIASES Yes, those are probably my cognitive biases, but I think both goalkeepers are the weakest links in their respective teams. In our example here, Kane missing the final would see France go off favourites, moving England from 2.76 out to 3.15. All of this is still us rating only two teams against each other. To price an Outright Winner market, we must rate all 24 teams with imperfect information. In-house, we are a team of odds compilers that tend to be involved in some heated discussions on what our agreed ratings are, and then use them to offer prices. If it is so hard to price international football, then how efficient is the Outright Winner market? At the time of writing, not very. I estimate that after the Champions League final, we will have seen less than 5% of the total stakes that will be taken by the industry between 30th May and the end of the tournament. VALUE Opportunity was there to get some early value on a selection of sides in the last 12 months or so. And an interesting question posed is whether any of

the competing nations have benefited, or lost out, from last summer’s postponement? The graph highlights their price journey during the past year. According to the prices, Portugal and Denmark have gotten the most love from punters. DARK HORSES Portugal, thanks to step up seen from Ruben Dias, Diogo Jota and Bruno Fernandes, whilst Denmark may be viewed as this tournament’s dark horses. The price on this horse has bolted (66s in November) but with a strong starting XI, they can get a result against anyone. England are also in much better position, especially given the development of the likes of Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish this season. Meanwhile, Netherlands are arguably the biggest losers due to the loss of their manager (Ronald Koeman to Barcelona) and key man Virgil Van Dijk to injury.

So, hopefully this has given you a flavour of all the work that we put into pricing the Outright Winner market. Using my own ratings, the value bet I give you is Spain. La Roja will play 4-3-3 with a focus of being more direct than what you might picture of traditional Spanish side as. Spain’s main strength is that they will have no superstars. For every position, Luis Enrique has a couple of players to choose from with little difference in quality. In one way, the coach cannot pick the wrong side, but more so, whoever gets the jersey must perform. If they do not, the former Barcelona boss will not have any favourites to call upon, or issues with leaving anyone out. POTENTIAL Spain tick all the boxes I look for in a potential winner. Both quality, and depth, in the squad is a massive strength for a major tournament this summer. It gives La Roja an advantage over some of the other runners in that injury to

particular individual will not derail their challenge, whilst they also benefit from home advantage in groups, and if they must play England, it’s unlikely to be at Wembley. Spain are my value pick to win it outright but I also fancy the 2008 and 2012 champions in the Most Tournament Goals market too. La Roja could rack up a few in Seville during the group-stage – they’ve averaged 3.85 goals pergame in their last seven home outings (albeit at different stadiums). Other teams I like in a word are Italy and Denmark, and I’d avoid Netherlands and Portugal. BENEFITS The England price (6.20 on Betfair Exchange) is fair given the development in certain players and options since the 2018 World Cup and the obvious benefits of Wembley. I still doubt whether Gareth Southgate will get the full potential out of the squad. Bookmakers, regardless of their 100% price on England to win the competition, may duck the Three Lions knowing the weight of money that is coming regardless of the price. BEST BET Therefore, it is hard to get value on England, but the Betfair Exchange is your best bet if looking for a straight Outright Winner price on ENGGER-LAND!! I enjoyed singing along to ‘Football’s Coming Home’ again in 2018 and will certainly relish hearing it again this summer. Football may well come home, or arrive in Paris, those are the most likely destinations according to the market, but the value is with Spain. Regardless of the outcome, enjoy the tournament and stay safe.

WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 85


ASK THE EXPERTS WLB VIEWS

BRETT CURTIS

Alex Jones

@brett_curtis92

@AlexJ0nes9

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

Belgium (13/2 Betfair)

It’s tough to look beyond France.

No team scored more qualifying goals than Belgium’s 40. In my view, their route to the final is favourable in comparison to others. Their ability to keep clean sheets (conceding the joint-fewest qualification goals) will only aid them through the tighter games.

They’re not the flashiest, yet under Didier Deschamps, I think they’re built for tournament football, as proven at the 2018 World Cup.

THE WLB TEAM

They’re in the ‘Group of Death’ but given three teams progress from most groups, that’s no longer a major threat in terms of progression to the knockout stages, which is where Les Blues tend to come alive. Dark Horse

Portugal (9/1 SkyBet) The ridiculous quality of Portugal’s team does fly under the radar. It’s packed with elite Premier League players, while Ruben Dias’ and Andre Silva’s emergence have solved their long-standing issues at centre-back and centre-forward.

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) Turkey kept eight shutouts in 10 qualifiers, conceded three goals, scored 18 and beat France along the way. The Crescent Stars thrashed Netherlands 4-2 in World Cup qualifying recently, are spearheaded by Burak Yilmaz who arrives off a great season at Lille, with head coach Senol Gunes previously leading the nation to third in the 2002 World Cup.

Like France, they could face England in the first knockout stage, but that hasn’t been an issue for them in the past. Top scorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet) Belgium’s group isn’t the toughest, and they look to have a decent route through to the semi-finals, so Romelu Lukaku should start at least five or six matches. The Red Devils are one of the most expansive international teams under Roberto Martinez, so the Inter Milan hitman should receive plenty of opportunity to hack up. Best Bet

France/Romelu Lukaku (66/1 Betfair) Portugal/ Romelu Lukaku (125/1 Betfair)

66/1

TOP SCORER

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet) The Belgian is in his prime at 28 and fired Inter Milan to the Serie A title. Lukaku has been a machine this season and, whilst he only scored seven goals in qualifying, played far fewer matches than his biggest rivals. He’s a big player for the big occasion. BEST BET

Two long shots that I feel are undervalued and worth supporting at big prices.

Harry Kane to be England’s Top Goalscorer (5/4 BetVictor)

I also like the look of N’golo Kante to win the Best Player of the Tournament at 66/1 (Betfair).

Harry Kane notched 50% of England’s 12 goals at the 2018 World Cup despite not scoring past the group stages. The Spurs striker should be given the nod for Gareth Southgate’s troops in every meaningful match and is on penalty duty – he should be odds-on.

He’s been in incredible form for Chelsea under Thomas Tuchel and will have plenty of water to carry alongside Paul Pogba in midfield. 86 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

DARK HORSE


Gerry Taylor

Jack Wright

Joshua Jones

@TheFurlongPole

@JackWright_BSB

@joshuapsjones

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

PORTUGAL (9/1 Skybet)

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

PORTUGAL (9/1 Skybet)

Yes, they have a tough group but the defending champions have quality and depth, plus tournament-winning nous.

Not a strong, confident prediction, but I’d expect the French to go deep in the competition. With a squad packed full of quality, and with the likelihood of Kylian Mbappe letting loose, the reigning world champions already know how to get the job done. England and Belgium should again be on the premises, but question marks over in-game management and defence, mean I’m leaning towards Les Blues.

France possess a formidable squad and arguably could put out two teams in this competition and go close with either. Big game players in every position on the pitch.

I know lightning rarely strikes twice but it’s hard to see past Portugal, for me, whose current crop is arguably better than 2016.

Gavin Murphy

Dark Horse

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) With their domestic league producing a fascinating finale, Turkey will arrive battle-hardened and can spring a surprise or two.

Dark Horse

Dark Horse

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) In a mad, crazy year, why not? Turkey ran France close in qualifying, taking four points off the world champions. Tough to

The Selecao’s group is tough but they’ve the quality to go all the way. Defensively sound with a plethora of attacking options? Yes, please… Dark Horse

Denmark (33/1 SkyBet)

Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet) Fresh from triumphing in Serie A this term and with a weak-looking group, Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku is the man to beat. Best Bet

Hungary to be the lowestscoring side (9/2 William Hill) Despite home advantage, Hungary look likely to be outclassed in Group F. The Magyars to be the Lowest Scoring Team in the tournament at 9/2 looks decent.

Ben Ragg

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) In a wide-open betting heat, Turkey stand out at the prices for a speculative interest. Decent defensively with the likes of Caglar Soyuncu performing well for Leicester, the Crescent Stars have plenty of goals in them too. A win and draw against France over the last couple of years, and a 4-2 recent win against Netherlands, suggest they could be underrated. Top Goalscorer

Burak Yilmaz (66/1 Bet365)

Top Goalscorer

Veteran Lille striker Burak Yilmaz is in decent nick for club and country - his 16 goals propelled Les Dogues to the summit of Ligue 1 and a famous league title. He has also been in as good form for the Turks, with a recent hat-trick against the Dutch. A possible penalty-taker, plus a reasonable group aids our chances.

@punters_corner_

Best Bet

OUTRIGHT WINNER

Scotland to reach the quarter-finals (7/1 Bet365)

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

Top Goalscorer

Burak Yilmaz (66/1 Bet365) Best Bet

North Macedonia To Qualify from Group C (3/1 Betway)

Harry Kane (7/1 Bet365) I wanted someone on penalties and Harry Kane could play as many as six home games if England progress to the final, so he just pips Ciro Immobile for my vote. Wembley has of course been his home in domestic football until very recently, so he knows the place inside out, whilst he won the same award at the World Cup in 2018.

I like Denmark to surprise this summer. Their only losses since 2018 have been to Belgium, who join them in an appealing group alongside Russia and Finland. Finish second and they face the runner-up from Group A, which feels like a sure-fire path to the quarters. Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet) It’s not very adventurous but I think Romelu Lukaku should fancy himself this summer. He’s scored 30+ goals already this season, and is in a very strong Belgium squad that should go deep in the tournament.

Best Bet

Scotland are priced around 11/10 to 5/4 to progress out of Group D.

Dark Horse

Ilkay Gundogan to be Best Player of the Tournament (66/1 Betfair)

beat after conceding three goals in qualifying – nobody conceded fewer – Senol Gunes’ group can outperform their odds.

With four of the best third-placed teams going through to the last-16, the Scots must have a fair squeak of reaching the knockout phase. Then, given a bit of luck with potential opponents, 7/1 for Steve Clarke’s charges to reach the quarters might not be that crazy a bet. The Scots already deservedly knocked Serbia out en-route, and their recent 100% record in penalty shoot-outs, is maybe something that could be replicated if required.

Best Bet

Wales to be the lowest scoring team (12/1 William Hill) Wales just don’t score many goals – notching more than once in only one of their last 11 outings and the Dragons are pitted in a tough group with Italy, Turkey and Switzerland. Robert Page’s men will rely on Gareth Bale but I feel they just don’t have enough firepower to trouble the best international defences in the absence of a topflight striker.

Harry Kane to be England’s Top Goalscorer (5/4 BetVictor) Harry Kane has been in sublime form this season, and it’s hard to see anyone getting close to him here. Having smashed 30+ goals for Spurs, notched in every single European qualifier, and scored four more goals than anyone else at the World Cup, backing this is something that feels illegal, but isn’t.

WELOVEBETTING WELOVEBETTINGULTIMATE ULTIMATEWORLD EURO 2020 CUP BETTING GUIDE | 87


Matthew Kirby

Will Dyer

James Potter

@m_kirby95

@W2Dyer

@TheBettingDesk

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

BELGIUM (13/2 Betfair)

The money has started to come for the 2018 world champions. Although I wanted to avoid going for someone in the proverbial ‘Group of Death’, Didier Deschamps has named a strong squad, including the headline return of Karim Benzema. They’ve been there and done it, as proven in Russia, so the money could well be right.

Overlook the Group of Death-ers (GoDs) and their wretched route to the final to avoid early heartbreak.

5/1

Dark Horse

Italy (12/1 Unibet) Not many standouts at bigger prices but Italy are going slightly under the radar. There are positive signs in the build-up after Roberto Mancini signed a contract extension. Currently unbeaten in 25, they could have a kind last-16 game after finishing top of Group A, before a potentially mouthwatering clash with Belgium – one I can see them grinding out a positive result.

That removes three of the shortest six in the betting. Spain are a side in transition, not to be trusted. Which leaves England and Belgium. The Three Lions are likely to win their group and meet one of the GoDs in the last-16, which could be curtains, making the tournament jollies a risky wager. Belgium look to have an easier path against a third-placed nation, followed by quarters against a Group A or C side, arguably the two weakest sections. The Red Devils should make light work of their group. They breezed past Russia twice in qualification and hit the perfect 10 wins. As the English know all too well, Roberto Martinez’s men finished third at the 2018 World Cup and the third favourites can go further this time with a crop of world class players at their pinnacle. Less Waffle, at 6/1 I’m hoping I’ve Leffe little to the imagination with this pick and Amstel standing on the 11th July. Dark Horse

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet)

Top Goalscorer

Ciro Immobile (25/1 William Hill) While Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku are the obvious candidates, I’ll take a punt on a key forward for my dark horse. Lazio’s Ciro Immobile has had a good Serie A campaign, bagging 25 goals. He sometimes takes penalties to boost his cause and can flourish playing through the middle of a front three.

This is only the fifth time that Turkey have qualified for the European Championships. The noughties was a ridiculously good decade for the Crescent Stars as they finished third at the tournament in 2008, made the

quarters in Euro 2000 and took a bronze at the 2002 World Cup. Senol Gunes oversaw two of those tournaments and is back at the helm, with Turkey in their best shape in years. In qualifying they beat France at home and drew in Paris, whilst in the last 12 months they’re unbeaten against Germany, Serbia, Croatia, Russia and Netherlands. The group is competitive but winnable and the draw is navigable for a team of their talents. 66/1 at Skybet can give you a run for your money. Quite the delight.

OUTRIGHT WINNER

ITALY (12/1 Unibet) France, Belgium and Italy are all on the same side of the draw, which makes it very hard to predict who might make it through, but Italy look solid. Undefeated since 2019, conceding just six goals, the Azzurri have set Italian records for most consecutive wins, wins in a calendar year and topped their recent Nations League group under Roberto Mancini. Dark Horse

Top Goalscorer

Memphis Depay (20/1 Bet365)

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet)

A bet type where you want group stage goals on your side, Ciro Immobile interests me but more so 20/1 Bet365 shot Memphis Depay, a man in scintillating form for both club and country. The Dutch are best price 1/25 to qualify, only England are shorter at 1/50. Depay could bag three at this stage; enough for each-way place money in the 24-team format of Euro 2016. Put on your blue suede shoes…

Turkey’s likely opponents in the last-16 could be Denmark and then potentially Netherlands or the third-placed side in the ‘Group of Death’ between Portugal, Germany or France. I would fancy Turkey against Germany or Portugal. Senol Gunes’ men came second behind France in qualifying and caused problems in both home and away meetings. A notable mention to Sweden here too who should progress deep into the tournament.

Best Bet

Top Goalscorer

Portugal to win Group F (9/2 Gentingbet)

Burak Yilmaz (66/1 Bet365)

Portugal are 9/2 to win Group F. Germany are all over the shop and so vying for group favouritism with France is laughable. Les Blues’ price is more understandable but 38% chance of winning the group to Portugal’s 18% feels skewed.

You need a striker who takes penalties and who plays for a side that should go well in the tournament. Sixteen goals and five assists for Lille from 23 starts is impressive. In the World Cup qualifiers played this year, the veteran has four goals from three appearances, two of which came from the spot. If he stays fit and Turkey go well, 66/1 looks a great each-way shout.

Fernando Santos is a miser and Portugal a tournament team – making the quarters or better in all of their last seven qualified Euros. The side is littered with Premier League class. No Silva medal here.

Best Bet

Belgium to win Group B (4/5 SpreadEx)

9/2

Best Bet

Italy, Belgium, England and Spain to win their groups (4.34/1 Sky Bet) A straightforward one, for me. These four nations should just have too much for their group rivals, so putting them into a four-fold gives you a nice play at just bigger than 4/1. What better way to head into the knockout phase than a pocketful of winnings? 88 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

Belgium’s record over the last 40 games reads W35-D2-L3, scoring 136 goals conceding just 29. The Red Devils won their qualification group with a W10-D0-L0 return and a goal difference of +37. Pool rivals Denmark managed just W4-D4-L0 in a group that contained Switzerland, Ireland, Georgia and Gibraltar, whilst Russia finished six points behind Roberto Martinez’s, losing the two meetings by an aggregate 7-1. Meanwhile, Finland qualified with a record of W6-D0-L4, losing to Greece, Bosnia and Italy twice.


25/1 James Cantrill @JimmyThePunt OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365) An embarrassment of riches and that was before Karim Benzema announced his return. Dark Horse

DAN McCULLOCH

James O’Rourke

@DMcCulloch1984

@JamesOR1

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

BELGIUM (13/2 Betfair)

France are favourites but rightfully so. It’s so easy to find issues with the other leading protagonists that Les Blues have to be my pick.

With Group F dubbed the dreaded ‘Group of Death’, it means one of the group winners will likely face France, Germany or Spain in the first knockout game. The betting suggests only six teams are realistic tournament winners, one being Belgium, who I think are now ready to fulfil their potential.

I hate tipping a tournament favourite but France are the most likely winners.

I see Denmark and Croatia getting the most votes so I’ve gone for an alternative. I actually think Wales have a better squad than in 2016. History is unlikely to repeat itself but 200/1+ is attractive. Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet)

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) Turkey have some very talented players alongside a mix of grit and nous. Also, worth noting their veteran striker - Burak Yilmaz comes into this tournament in fine goalscoring form as he shows no sign of slowing down. Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet)

Dark Horse

Romelu Lukaku feels like he has come of age in Italy under Antonio Conte. The Belgian is the main man for Inter Milan and shown he isn’t scared of anything or anyone as he went toe-to-toe (or nose to nose) with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Poland (80/1 Bet365)

He is a bit of a flat-track bully and should relish the group stages.

Dark Horse

Wales (200/1 Bet365)

This could be when he makes his name on the international stage

With Sweden now missing Zlatan because of injury, I fancy Poland (80/1) to finish at least second in their group. You always have a chance with a striker such as Robert Lewandowski in your ranks, plus they have a more suitable offensive coach in the form of Paulo Sousa these days.

Best Bet

France to win and Romelu Lukaku to finish Top Goalscorer (66/1 Betfair)

Top Goalscorer

8/1 on Romelu Lukaku is fine. He has a reasonable group to contend with and I can see him grabbing around four goals going in to the quarter-finals. Best Bet

Croatia to make quarterfinals (8/5 Betfair) Guessing how a tournament will look after the group-stage is especially difficult this time around with 16 of the 24 nations qualifying for the knockout rounds. However, I like the fact that Croatia are likely to face one of Sweden, Poland or Slovakia in the last-eight. I can’t see them failing to get through the pool and there are few options in which I see them being 8/5 or more to qualify once they make the last-16.

Ciro Immobile (25/1 William Hill) Italy have a favourable group and could easily be among the higher scorers heading into the knockout rounds. Lazio goal machine Ciro Immobile (25/1) will likely have had something to do about it. This could be when he makes his name on the international stage. Best Bet

Romelu Lukaku to be Best Player of the Tournament (33/1 BetVictor) The Best Player of the Tournament market has Kevin De Bruyne as current favourite. He is a fairly short price, and as I fancy Belgium to win Euro 2020, I am more interested in the 33/1 of Romelu Lukaku, who has just as an important role to play if they’re to be successful.

Marcus Ally @marcus_ally_4 OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365) Dark Horse

DENMARK (33/1 Skybet) Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lakaku (8/1 Skybet) Best Bet

Kylian Mbappe to be Best Player of the Tournament (10/1 BetVictor) WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 89


ASK THE EXPERTS THE PROs’ VIEWS

THE PRO TEAM

Jeevan Jeyaratnam

BET ON VALUE

@JeevesOdds

@Bet_On_Value

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

ENGLAND (11/2 Unibet)

ITALY (12/1 Unibet)

Plenty of analysts are predicting a shock along the lines of Denmark (’92) and Greece (’04), but it may pay to keep it simple. I’ve never tipped England for a major tournament but they must go close, especially so with a highly motivated Harry Kane and with what amounts to a home draw.

Since Roberto Mancini took charge, Italy climbed from 18th to seventh on the FIFA World Rankings, losing just twice in 30 and keeping 18 clean sheets. A proper tournament team gifted a good draw, Belgium is their worst-case opponent before the semi-finals should the Azzurri win their group.

12/1

Dark Horses

Dark Horse

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet)

Denmark (33/1 SkyBet)

Ukraine (125/1 BetVictor)

Denmark have been incredible strong lately. Losing just twice since the 2018 World Cup (both to Belgium), the Red-Whites boast home advantage in the group stage. Netherlands are the most difficult opponent in a potential quarter-final and this team been together for years now.

I’d not put anyone off a couple of darts at Turkey and Ukraine at the prices. Turkey, strong defensively, compare well with the favourites in terms of xGA during qualification, and could boast a Lique 1 winner in Burak Yilmaz up top. Ukraine have been transformed under the leadership of Andriy Shevchenko and topped a tricky group in qualification. Top Goalscorer

Harry Kane (7/1 Bet365) Only Russia’s Artem Dzyuba (a sixteam group, including San Marino) recorded an xG figure higher than that of Harry Kane in qualification. Kane managed to convert the most, topping the qualification scoring section. He will highly motivated to put on a show after his alleged transfer request and will feel as at home as anyone on the Wembley pitch.

Top Goalscorer

Memphis Depay (20/1 Bet365) Coming off a good season (20 goals in Ligue 1 and six goals in the Champions League, Memphis Depay looks ready to step-up. A starter for Netherlands with a good crop of players around him and a decent path to the semi-finals, the Lyon man can go well. Depay has scored 18 of his 23 national team goals in the past two-and-a-half years. Best Bet

Croatia eliminated in the group (12/5 Bet365)

Best Bet

Turkey +1 Asian Handicap vs Italy (1/1 Bet365) Turkey +1 Asian Handicap stands out on the opening night. The game is in Rome, but surely it will be nervy and we’ve already mentioned Tukey’s resilient rearguard. 90 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

Ageing key players and others less decisive than previously, Croatia are vulnerable. The Blazers were gifted an easy qualification group and failed to impress in the Nations League. With four third-placed teams progressing, three points and a positive goal difference could be enough but Czech Republic and Scotland in Glasgow are no pushovers.


Neil McDonald @NeilMac555 OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365) It’s tough to look past France here; they’re stacked in every position, have experience in the squad and a coach that can maintain order. Unlike the other favourites, however, France boasts the best defence in my opinion, and that will matter in this competition.

the draw doesn’t feel too unkind either with a quarter-final spot very much a possibility

Dark Horse

Adrian Clarke

Sweden (100/1 Betway)

@adrianjclarke OUTRIGHT WINNER

SPAIN (9/1 Unibet) A kind group draw on home territory in Seville has potential to help build Spain’s form and confidence at Euro 2020. This is not a vintage crop of individuals - not by La Roja’s lofty standards anyway – but Luis Enrique is good at fostering togetherness and has one of the sharpest tactical minds at this tournament. He will sprinkle young talents such as Ferran Torres, Pedri and Dani Olmo alongside a squad packed with experience, and this balance has potential to click. Spain do not have the same depth of eye-catching talent that France, Belgium and England boast but they do not lack quality or nous. There is an emotional backstory too. Should Luis Enrique, who tragically lost his nine-year-old daughter to cancer in 2019, inspire Spain to glory the tears will flow.

tough nut to crack. As we’ve seen with Greece and Portugal in the past, a strong defence can take you a long way at the Euros. Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet)

Top Goalscorer

Belgium’s defence is ageing so the emphasis of their title tilt will be to outscore the opposition and that means Romelu Lukaku has to come into play as a Top Goalscorer contender. The Inter Milan ace has been superb in Serie A, comfortably breaking the 20-goal barrier in back-to-back campaigns, and his record at international level is just as prolific.

Best Bet

Playing all three group matches in Copenhagen hands Denmark a big advantage, so I would expect them to make it through to the last-16. Belgium would be the likely group winners but a side containing the likes of Kasper Schmeichel, Andreas Christensen, Christian Eriksen, Pierre-Emile Hjojberg, Martin Braithwaite and Yussuf Poulsen has enough to see off Finland and Russia. Beyond that the draw doesn’t feel too unkind either with a quarterfinal spot very much a possibility. The Danes have kept clean sheets in eight of their last 11 international matches so they are likely to be a

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet) For a Top Goalscorer bet, we ideally want a centre forward who plays every game, whose team plays attacking football, and who is on penalties; Romelu Lukaku, who is having one of the best seasons of his career, ticks all the boxes for me. Best Bet

Lukaku has netted 59 goals in 91 appearances for Belgium, scoring at a rate of at least a goal a game in each of the last five calendar years. Harry Kane will have other ideas but I’d say Lukaku is the man to beat.

Dark Horse

Denmark (33/1 SkyBet)

Janne Andersson’s Sweden are exceptionally well structured and have a nice balance of experience and youth. With a favourable group, I expect them to make it into the knockout rounds, and once a team like Sweden gets there, they’re in the conversation.

Belgium and Denmark Group B Dual Forecast (10/11 William Hill) It’s hard to envisage Finland and Russia being able to stop Belgium and Denmark going through as the top two in Group B.

Ukraine to win Group C (11/2 Unibet)

Ian Broadrick @brodders_be OUTRIGHT WINNER

SPAIN (9/1 Unibet) Purely on quality, I think France has the strongest squad but they have the worst group draw and the price is short enough. Spain has an easier looking route to the final stages and represent reasonable value. Dark Horse

Denmark (33/1 SkyBet) If Denmark finish second in Group B then they will go into the (on paper) easier side of the draw and have an exciting squad which seems to be getting better and better. Top Goalscorer

Ukraine have been drawn in a favourable group and are a little undervalued. Since Ronald Koeman left his post, the Netherlands have declined a little, Austria are very suspect in defence, and North Macedonia lack the quality/experience to cause problems.

Karim Benzema (16/1 Bet365) Best Bet

Karim Benzema TO BE TOP GOALSCORER (16/1 Bet365)

16/1

Russia’s form since October 2020 has been patchy to say the least, failing to win seven of their last nine games. The Finns have also been conceding an alarming amount of goals since securing their unexpected qualification. Belgium are excellent flat track bullies and the Danes, who play all their group games at their own Parken Stadium, have no excuses not to progress. WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE | 91


Tipster Wizard @wizard_season

Jake Osgathorpe

9/1

@JAKEOZZ

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

SPAIN (9/1 Unibet)

It is hard to look past the world champions. In my opinion, they possess the most balanced squad and are loaded with stars from the biggest European clubs in every department.

The Spanish have greatly improved. After a lull following a hat-trick of titles, they look to be heading in the right direction again. La Roja appear to have a favourable draw up to the quarterfinals, and are more than a match for most at that stage.

A big boost is the return of Karim Benzema, who has been a scoring machine for Real Madrid this season. With firepower in every position, France look like they could all the way.

Dark Horse

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) Turkey have been impressive recently in qualifying campaigns, picking up points home and away against France and thumping Netherlands. Second place in a tight Group A could present a kind draw and they have shown they are capable of winning in different ways - both high-scoring and lowscoring.

Dark Horse

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) Turkey have a good blend of youth and experience going into this tournament. They finished second behind France in qualifying and recently beat Netherlands 4-2 in the World Cup qualifiers with an impressive display. With some inform stars in the line-up, I will have them as my dark horses.

@jasonjmurphy1

Top Goalscorer

OUTRIGHT WINNER

Harry Kane (7/1 Bet365)

SPAIN (9/1 Unibet)

Harry Kane has been immense for Tottenham this term, scoring 23 goals and providing 14 assists in the Premier League. He won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup, and considering he also takes penalties for England, I can see him repeating the feat here.

Spain tick all the boxes I look for in a winner. Quality in every position, squad depth after a long season and home advantage in the groups, plus a manager who has won big trophies as player and coach.

For those looking for a longshot in this market, Memphis Depay at 20/1 looks big. He has scored 20 league goals this season and considering Netherlands are in a considerably easier group, is certainly worth a small interest. Best Bet

Belgium to win Group B (4/5 Spreadex) Belgium are up against Denmark, Finland and Russia in Group B. The Red Devils won all 10 of their qualifying matches, scoring goals for fun. With the likes of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku all forming part of a deadly attack, I would not be surprised to see Roberto Martinez’s men finish on maximum points. Belgium to win the group will be my bet of the tournament.

Top Goalscorer

Jason Murphy

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet)

there, and therefore each-way at 33s is my bet for a dark horse. PS. I am a big fan of Martin Braithwaite. Top Goalscorer

There’s plenty of goals in them, and IF they play England, it’s unlikely to be at Wembley (quarter-final in Rome).

Ferran Torres (40/1 Skybet) Your Top Goalscorer bet should be a regular in a team who score goals and likely to go far. Six goals in 10 international appearances, including a hat-trick against the Germans, and for me, the only guaranteed starter in Luis Enqriue’s front three, it’s Ferran Torres.

Belgium have a kind group on paper and they should rack up a fair few goals. If they do, Romelu Lukaku will likely account for most as their main attacking threat. He has had a sensational season for Inter Milan, being unplayable at times. Should he take that form to the Euros he will take some stopping.

Dark Horse

Denmark (33/1 SkyBet) For me, a dark horse must be 33/1 or bigger. There are a couple of runners in Turkey, Poland and Sweden but the best of the rest (and just about a dark horse) is Denmark. The price on this horse has bolted (66s in November) but with strong starting XI, they can get a result against anyone. They lost in the World Cup last-16 on penalties to Croatia i.e. it could have been the Danes that made the final from that weaker half of the draw. Squad depth isn’t great but with home advantage in the groups and bit of luck with injuries, then potential for a repeat of 1992 is

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I’ll also have an interest bet on Christian Eriksen (150/1 eachway Bet365) – he’s 23 goals in his last 35 competitive games for Denmark. Best Bet

Arkadiusz Milik to be Top Poland Goalscorer (12/1 BetVictor) Arkadiusz Milik has the same total summer tournament goals as ‘The Body’ (Robert Lewandowski) with two. He’s very capable of scoring and a more likely starter now with Krzysztof Piatek out injured. Lewandowski is not going to get the service he does at Bayern Munich and therefore may have to drop deeper at times to play a more creative role.

8/1 Best Bet

Romelu Lukaku to be Belgium’s Top Goalscorer (11/10 BetVictor) Romelu Lukaku is Belgium’s alltime top scorer, and as mentioned above, in incredible form. Not only is he Belgium’s focal point and main finisher, there is a high chance he will be on penalty duty. The odds-against for him to be his nation’s top scorer look big.


Martin Laurence

@stighefootball

@andybrassell

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

PORTUGAL (9/1 Skybet)

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365)

I do like Portugal to retain their crown at the price - their squad has improved dramatically since 2016 after all - but Karim Benzema’s return is a game-changer, justifying France’s billing as favourites.

As more and more pile on France - especially in light of the Karim Benzema news - I dig my heels in deeper on Portugal.

Not only about the incredible depth, but Didier Deschamps’ pragmatism.

Dark Horse

Kevin Hatchard @KevinHatchard OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365) If they can negotiate a tough group, France can follow up their World Cup win with another success. Didier Deschamps’ pragmatism has allowed him to maximise the potential of an incredibly talented squad, and while the football isn’t always pretty, Les Bleus are masters at squeezing through tight games. Dark Horse

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) Turkey have momentum after a flying start to World Cup qualification, and have an in-form striker in Burak Yilmaz. Wily coach Senol Gunes led the Crescent Stars to third at the 2002 World Cup. Whether they finish first or second in Group A, Turkey are likely to get a benign last-16 draw. Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet) Romelu Lukaku has had another stellar season with Inter Milan, helping to fire the Nerazzurri to the Scudetto. He is Belgium’s focal point in attack, he is in the form of his life, and the Red Devils should score freely in the process of winning their group. Best Bet

Belgium to win Group B (4/5 Spreadex) It’s boring, but I’d back Belgium to win Group B, even at odds-on. They beat Denmark twice recently in the Nations League, they’ll be too strong for Finland and they beat Russia home and away in qualifying for this tournament. Roberto Martinez’s team should win their section comfortably.

Andy Brassell

Sam Tighe

@martinlaurence7

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet)

They’re an absolute snoozefest, but they are VERY effective, nonetheless.

Summer international tournaments are won by slow and steady after an exacting season and Deschamps will go back to the World Cup 2018 blueprint to do just that.

Dark Horse Dark Horse

Group A isn’t straightforward for any involved but I fancy Turkey to finish in the top two. There’s a strong balance of defence and attack, as well as age and experience. Senol Gunes has proven to be the strongest coach in Turkey for a number of years. The quarters are certainly attainable. Top Goalscorer

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet)

Turkey (66/1 SkyBet) Turkey are good side, one with a good mix of talent and toughness, and one that has a striker (Burak Yilmaz) in fine form. Second place in Group A could land them a soft spot in the bracket (Denmark, then the Netherlands?) and mean a semi-final is not impossible

Czech Republic (150/1 Unibet) The cluster of players from a good Slavia Prague side plus Soucek, Coufal, Schick and Jankto could be enough to edge out Scotland, despite home advantage, and a transitional Croatia. Top Goalscorer

Kylian Mbappe (10/1 SkyBet)

Top Goalscorer

I’m not convinced Belgium can improve on their World Cup semi-final appearance but Romelu Lukaku is more than capable of filling his boots in the group against the likes of Finland and Russia.. Best Bet

Ukraine to win Group C (11/2 Unibet)

Romelu Lukaku (8/1 SkyBet) Romelu Lukaku is in the form of his life, he has Kevin De Bruyne feeding him, and he plays Denmark, Finland and Russia in the groups. Belgium’s potential to go deep helps too. Best Bet

I, like many, remain unconvinced by Netherlands under Frank de Boer and Ukraine have emerged a stronger side by moving on from the likes of Andriy Pyatov, Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka. In Ruslan Malinovskiy they have a star man in great form heading into Euro 2020.

Winning Group: Group F (13/8 Sky Bet) This basically feels like a doublechance at the tournament winner, given Portugal and France are so strong. Germany offer a dark-horse Hail Mary here, too.

Whether it’s Karim Benzema or Olivier Giroud starting, they will be subordinate to the brilliance of PSG’s main man. Best Bet

Portugal to win outright (10/1 Betfair) Fernando Santos knows how to win a tournament of course and has a far better squad to pick from than in 2016, as well as not being reliant on superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Ruben Dias and Bruno Fernandes are real leaders and at the top of their respective games.

Mark Stinchcombe @MarkStinchcombe OUTRIGHT WINNER

FRANCE (5/1 Bet365) World class squad with proven winning mentality and experience. Dark Horse

Croatia (40/1 BetVictor) Croatia are 40/1 each-way (only

14/1 to make the final) and boast a squad brimming with excellent technical players from a whole host of top European clubs. Top Goalscorer

Harry Kane (7/1 Bet365) If England win Group D, Harry Kane will play six or seven games at Wembley, should Gareth Southgate’s mean make it all the way to the final.

Best Bet

Harry Kane to be Top England Goalscorer & Romelu Lukaku to be top Belgium Goalscorer (17/4 BetVictor) Romelu Lukaku has 19 goals in 19 games for Belgium since the World Cup, and Harry Kane has 15 goals in the same sample. Both are focal points of attack and on penalties.

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SPECIALS James Cantrill (@JimmyThePunt) has delved deep into the bundles of Euro 2020 specials markets to bring you his favourite five fancies.

FERRAN TORRES Top Spain GoalSCORER Young Player of the Tournament

Ferran Torres was called up to the Spanish senior squad just 16 days after signing for Manchester City. Having previously impressed at U17 and U19 level, he was deemed ready to make the leap to La Roja’s top tier. Torres made his debut in the Nations League against Germany where he played the full 90 minutes. He then

scored his first international goal three days later in a 4-0 over Ukraine and followed that up with his maiden Spain hat-trick a couple of months later as La Roja ran riot against Germany 6-0. Price-wise, most firms have Torres posted up at 4/1, but he’s also as short as 7/2. With no Sergio Ramos it is yet to be seen who will be on penalties

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for Luis Enrique’s side, and given the form that Torres ended the season in, I think SkyBet’s price of 5/1 is worth a small punt. Another market I like is Ferran Torres to be Young Player of the Tournament, where he is 14/1 with William Hill. The Spaniard has had to bide his time in Manchester but has hit form at just the right time.

As touched on earlier, Torres has taken to life in Spain’s national team very well. In his nine competitive appearances for La Roja, the youngster has scored six goals and averaged 0.81 goals per-90 minutes played. If he continues in this rich vein of form, it will be hard to leave him out of the XI, which should give us a run for our money at a tasty price.


KARIM BENZEMA Top France Goalscorer

Not since the homecoming of Napoleon Bonaparte from exile to France in 1815 has there been such a high profile return in Les Bleus in their hour of need. However, Karim Benzema’s scintillating form has proved to be just irresistible for France supremo Didier Deschamps, who has called an end to Coco’s six-year hiatus. Since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema has stepped into the limelight with gusto for Real Madrid, relishing the transition from

a member of the Galactico’s entourage to their talisman. Benzema has scored 88 goals - averaging one every 135 minutes played – following CR7’s move to Serie A, and led Los Blancos to a league title. The thought of Benzema and Kylian Mbappe spearheading France’s attack as the world champions look to conquer Europe is quite frightening, and at 4/1, the returning headliner looks a worthy punt for experience to eclipse youth, in terms of goals, this summer.

HARRY

KANE Top England Goalscorer

MASON MOUNT Young Player of the Tournament

England skipper Harry Kane has bagged 23 goals and added 14 assists in the top-flight this campaign, and whilst this was not enough to win Spurs any silverware, it did secure him the Golden Boot and Playmaker award from the Premier League. For his nation, Kane contributed to 15 goals in the qualifiers, including 10 goals in six starts as he averaged a goal every 50 minutes. It is also worth noting he won the Golden

Boot at the 2018 World Cup and will be on penalties for the Three Lions again. All things considered, I simply cannot get my head around Betfair’s price of 6/5 for him to finish as England’s top marksman. Other bookmakers have the wantaway Tottenham skipper slightly shorter but personally I would be pegging Kane at a similar price to that of Robert Lewandowski in the equivalent market for Poland (4/6).

I have touted Mason Mount for the main prize in my longshots piece but could not ignore the odds with Unibet at 9/1 to be crowned the Young Player of the Tournament.

still just a 22-year-old.

Gareth Southgate has never hidden his admiration for the midfielder and deployed him in a host of different positions. The confidence the Suspicions about Mount’s Three Lions boss has shown ability have been aired since he in Mount certainly seems justified with an average of made his professional debut. 0.52 goal contributions perBut it’s no coincidence that 90 minutes for his nation. every manager he has played under has made him a regular Mount is as short as 1/12 and valued member of their to start England’s opener against Croatia, and barring first XI. injury should feature for the With 116 appearances, 26 goals majority of the tournament, and 18 assists already under which obviously increases his belt, it is easy to forget the his chances of scooping this impressive Chelsea schemer is accolade.

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HOME NATIONS

d, Scotland and an gl En e m ti st la e for th the 1958 World Cup to ck ba 1984) takes a deep ay ch w lo e ul th l cC al M D go (@ to ch ve lo cCul You ha tournament. Dan M or aj m a r fo e Nation fancies. d ie om if H al e it ur vo fa s Wales all qu hi s out s prospects and pick am te ’s ch ea to in dive

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DAN McCULLOCH @DMcCulloch1984

One of my earliest footballing memories was England losing the World Cup semi-final to Germany in 1990. Since then, England’s record has been seemingly quite varied. In 15 major tournaments between 1990 and 2018, the Three Lions have been knocked out in a semifinal on three occasions, a quarter-final four times, the last-16 in three competitions, the group-stage on three occasions, while they also failed to qualify twice. Ignoring the two tournaments in which they did not qualify, England have been generally competitive in the 13 events they have featured in. Even when their tournaments ended at the first hurdle, England have never lost by more than a single goal in exiting the competition so early. Across this time period, England have played in 17 knockout matches. Incredibly, 11 of these have been drawn after 90 minutes, while England have also won three and lost three. Of the 11 matches that were a draw after 90 minutes, eight went to a penalty shootout, of which England lost six and won two. Those eight matches have come across seven competitions, meaning that seven of England’s last 13 major tournaments have featured a penalty shootout. Given that Gareth Southgate’s side are very likely to qualify for the knockout stages, I really like the 4/1 available on both England to win a penalty shootout and England to lose one. Both prices are available with SkyBet. My second England selection is not at a price I would usually select for an ante-post pick, but I think it provides standout value and is based on much of the data already discussed. Across the last 13 major tournaments, England have scored 77 goals in 58 matches, at an average of 1.33 goals-per-game. The Three Lions have only managed to score 10 goals or more in two of those competitions – the Euros in 2004 when they managed 10 and the last World Cup in 2018 when they racked up 12 strikes. Half of those goals came against Panama and they only averaged a goal a game aside from that walkover success.

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All of this leads me to the conclusion that the 4/5 SkyBet are offering on Under 9.5 England Goals is a steal. I understand that England might have more attacking quality than they have had in previous competitions but there is very little recent evidence that they play on the front-foot against middling opposition. If you take the games since the start of 2020, England have scored just twice in four matches against quality opposition (two games against both Belgium and Denmark) and the only teams they have found the net against more than twice were Iceland and San Marino. This isn’t to say that I would rule out England’s chances of winning the competition, and it should be noted that Portugal won it despite only managing nine goals in seven matches in the previous edition. Indeed, of the 24 entrants in 2016, only two sides, France (13) and Wales (10) got in to double-figures. Simply put, all the evidence suggests that international tournaments are tight affairs

and England’s record is testament to that. I expect them to be involved in low-scoring tense contests in the knockout stages in particular, so I’m more than happy to have nine goals on my side. Talking of failing to trouble the scorers…that leads me on to Scotland, who are at a major tournament for the first time since 1998 and who have never reached the second stage of a major competition. Scotland arrived here through the darkest of back doors, with two penalty shoot-out victories against Israel and Serbia seeing them qualify having won their Nations League group a couple of years beforehand. That success was actually under Alex McLeish but it was Steve Clarke who became

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a national hero as he led his country to a reunion with England in the group-stages. All the evidence suggests that will be as far as Scotland get and it is hard to put forward a compelling case for Clarke’s charges getting through a tricky pool, although I have no doubt they can be competitive. While it was a fortuitous victory, Scotland did in fact beat Czech Republic 1-0 when they played last October, while they were fairly impressive in drawing with Austria in a World Cup qualifier in March. The same can also be said about the aforementioned match with Serbia. My first instinct was to try to find a way of getting Kieran Tierney named in the Team of the Tournament but I couldn’t find a market available. Should one do so before

the competition starts then I would look in to that as a) he could feature as a centre back or left back and b) he is a quality footballer and there aren’t too many excellent leftbacks in this competition. However, with that market beyond me, I like the look of Grant Hanley to receive the Most Scotland Booking Points at 9/1 with SkyBet. Hanley has gone from the international wilderness to starting Scotland’s last three matches and I think he will be preferred to Jack Hendry and Declan Gallagher in the backline. While Hanley only managed three yellow cards in the Championship last season, he played in a dominant N o r w i c h side. He has, however, found the referee’s notebook far more prolifically in the Premier League


IT’S HARD TO PUT FORWARD A CASE FOR SCOTLAND GETTING THROUGH A TRICKY POOL – 11 in 46 – and w i t h Scotland likely to be under a lot of pressure in their matches I think he is likely to have to take matters in to his own hands on occasion. Dead heat rules apply but two cards could be enough to win this. Elsewhere, I like the look of John McGinn in the Top Scotland Goalscorer market at 13/2 with SkyBet. Again, a tie could be likely but I think the stats back this one up. McGinn plays further forward for Scotland than he has at club level and has scored 10 goals for his country in his last 17 matches, including three in his last three. Admittedly, he has scored the majority of those goals against sides who are a way off qualifying for this level of competition but

that is the case for most Scotland players. McGinn is fourth favourite in the betting here and while Southampton striker Che Adams is worthy favourite, 3/1 is too skinny for me and I cannot make a case for Ryan Christie or Lyndon Dykes based on recent records. I find Wales really hard to judge given that Robert Page has just stepped in and think the 5/6 on the Dragons not getting out of the group is fair. However, I do prefer the look of the 11/10 with SkyBet on Dragons scoring Over 3.5 Goals in this tournament. Wales have scored in 14 of their last 15 matches and their group-stage opponents include Turkey, who have shipped 11 goals in their last six games, including three last time out against Latvia and two against Serbia and Hungary. Switzerland and Italy are both tighter at the back generally but neither defence is impregnable and I do believe the likes of David Brooks, Dan James, Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Kieffer Moore can cause these backlines problems.

DAN’S VERDICT England to win a penalty shoot-out (4/1 SkyBet) England to be eliminated via a shoot-out (4/1 SkyBet) England to score Under 9.5 Goals (4/5 SkyBet) Hanley to receive Most Scotland Booking Points (9/1 SkyBet) McGinn to be Top Scotland Goalscorer (13/2 SkyBet) Wales to score Over 3.5 Goals (11/10 SkyBet)

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TOP GOALSCORER

TOM’S TOP SCORER TIPS

TOM LOVE (@TomLove_18) knows a goalscorer when he sees one and he’s delved into the Euro 2020 squads to find some generous odds on a handful of players he feels represent value in the Top Goalscorer market. The best players tend to shine on the biggest stage and we’re fortunate to have a collection of the globe’s greatest competing at Euro 2020. The top goalscorers from the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 will all be on show, and if we take the top five goal-getters from each of Europe’s top five domestic leagues, 15/25 (60%) are expected to be in action this summer. Here I will try to dissect where I feel the value may lie, but first I’ll share the method behind the madness when picking players in this muchloved market. Major tournaments don’t often go the way of punters hunting a big name forward fancy. In fact, since Euro ’92, only two of the following 16 players to either conclude the competition as outright winner, or dead-heated for top scoring honours, have been pre-tournament favourites.

Of course, the beauty about Top Goalscorer betting is the TOM LOVE eye-bulging prices and the @TomLove_18 luxury of backing each-way bets, rewarding backers with a pay-out for finishing in the However, that’s discounting top-four places. So I began those that have also placed my analysis with the odds... for each-way backers, such as Roman Pavlyuchenko who Going back to Euro ’96, copped at a massive 125/1 the average price of a Top in 2012. Had you backed the Goalscorer champ in the former Spurs striker with a European Championship simple £10 e/w stake, you’d is 35/1. Of the hot-shots to have banked a tidy £302.50 provide profit over the past reward despite the Russian six tournaments, eight went finishing runner-up. off at 20/1 or shorter, five were 40/1 or larger and two Such examples are reasonably were 100/1 shouts. rife. Since 1994, a 100/1 shot

It’s little surprise to see ROMELU LUKAKU towards the top end of the market (8/1 Unibet). Having fired Inter Milan to an overdue Scudetto with an impressive 24 league goals this term, his 2020/21 form was far from a one-off. Last season the Nerazzurri ace bagged 23 goals and also finished the campaign as second top scorer in the Europa League. The big Belgian has a proven track record and at 28-years-old is in his prime. Pundits often focus on his physical attributes, but Lukaku is one of the cleverest marksmen about. The way in which he uses his muscular frame, his ability to

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or larger has at least placed in the Top Goalscorer market of either the World Cup or Euros, and so diversifying your portfolio is a sensible way to go about things. If the Outright Winner market is the Gold Cup, the Top Goalscorer puzzle is the Grand National, with plenty more runners and riders, as well as the sexy prices to get teeth into.

get into prime goalscoring positions and his clinical nature make the 6ft 3in forward a top candidate.

Eden Hazard, the Red Devils are loaded with creative talent geared to get the best out of Lukaku.

In Serie A this term, 10 players averaged more shots per-game than Belgium’s all-time top scorer yet he was only behind Cristiano Ronaldo in the endof-season goal-getting charts, again highlighting his potency in the final-third.

His international record looks especially strong with 59 goals from 91 senior caps, but since he’s matured he’s really caught fire, smashing in an astonishing 58 Belgium goals in his last 59 outings for the Red Devils. Fearsome form.

Belgium have a negotiable group and Rom could hack up in the pool stages if he’s in the mood. With the likes of Kevin De Bruyne – second for assists in the Premier League this season – and Dries Mertens (eight assists for Napoli) also in tandem, not to mention

With the main man in a freescoring Belgium team, led by offensively-minded Roberto Martinez, there’s an argument to suggest he should be the market leader, especially with the potential to be on penalty duty for the third favourites in the pre-tournament betting.


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Recently linked with a reunion with Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, Memphis Depay looks a great price at 20/1 (Bet365) to top the goalscoring charts for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the Dutch wildcard has knocked in an impressive 26 goals in 48 competitive games since the start of the season for club and country. Secondly, the Lyon forward is the main man for Netherlands up front and will be on spot kick duty. Thirdly, the Oranje have probably the most agreeable group with North Macedonia, Ukraine and Austria in opposition. If the draw plays out as the market anticipates, Frank De Boer’s boys are unlikely face one of the top four tournament favourites until the semi-finals, should they progress that far. Memphis has ended the season in fine fettle too, with nine goals in his last 10 appearances. That should give the Dutch dynamo great confidence going into the

Another option from Group C that holds plenty of appeal is Austria frontman SASA KALAJDZIC at 100/1 (e/w Bet365). The 23-year-old endured a nightmare first season after his move from Admira Wacker to Stuttgart, picking up a cruciate ligament injury that ruled him out for the majority of the campaign. This season though, Kalajdzic has shone for Die Schwaben, banging in 16 goals in 23 starts, plus three in enough to beat opponents three for Das Team in in a footrace and attacks the their latest World Cup ball superbly well. qualifiers. It’s no surprise that he’s Standing at 6ft been touted as a possible for Erling 7in, Kalajdzic is an replacement obvious threat in the Haaland at Dortmund, whilst air, but 60% of his links with Spurs and West goals have arrived Ham have been spoken via his feet. He’s about too. often making runs off the shoulder of In a group with a Virgil centre-halves and Van Dijk-less Netherlands, loves a chip over an inexperienced Ukraine and outsiders the keeper. Defenders may backline be more occupied with his North Macedonia, he should physical presence and that get plenty of chances, and could give him a yard when with the each-way option balls are played through. he looks worthy of a punt at He’s quick and mobile chunky quotes.

summer, especially with a dream move potentially on the cards. The former Manchester United flop has impressively rebuilt his reputation in France and impressed on national team duty, scoring six in eight qualifying encounters, whilst also providing eight assists, highlighting his effectiveness and important to Holland. You’ll see how explosive he can be, not only in getting powerful shots off in tight spaces, but also in his direct running. It means he’s equally dangerous playing as part of a counter-attacking side, as well as when asked to be the difference-maker in the final third against low blocks. The Dutch are playing all three aforementioned group games in Amsterdam which can only be an additional benefit for backers of Memphis Depay.

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Now 28, his creative qualities are there for all to see, with a record of 0.96 non-penalty goals and assists per 90 minutes ranking him in the top-10 players across the five major European leagues in 2020/21. Having proven himself at a top club in Serie A, Malinovskyi now has to showcase his talents on the continental stage. Should he flourish, elite clubs could easily come calling. With just Roman Yaremchuk as an obvious front option, expect the set-piece specialist to be influential on the right-hand-side of a central midfield three. He progresses the ball superbly and Shevchenko may be working on ways to let him cut into space and pull the trigger with If the Yellow-Blue are to go his exquisite left foot. deep into the competition aren’t then they’ll be looking Midfielders uncommon in the Top towards the red-hot Ruslan shake-up Malinovskyi to be their Goalscorer James Rodriguez in 2014 main man. was a triple-figure price, as Malinovskyi was a crucial was Wesley Sneijder who part of the 2019 Belgian placed in 2010, both of league-winning Genk side which operated in similar – his superb performances positions to the Atalanta Therefore, magic saw Atalanta take a ace. punt on the attacking Malinovskyi is well worth a midfielder and he’s been look at a chunky 200/1 to the huge beneficiary of go well this summer. Papu Gomez’s departure to Sevilla. So much so, he’s even surpassed Josip Ilicic as go-to creator in the La Dea set-up. Ukraine are an interesting dark horse. After topping their qualifying group and going unbeaten in the process, Andriy Shevchenko’s charges could impose themselves on the continental stage as being a really strong and emerging side.

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World Cup 2018 finalists Croatia have been written off by a fair few this year despite topping their qualifying group. The Blazers are 1/3 second favourites to qualify from Group D so should be expected to be involved in a fair few games, and you wouldn’t want to write off their prospects for another foray into the final stages.

Hoffe this term but he’s continued to score.

Mario Mandzukic spearheaded the attack three years ago but has since retired and the vacated centre forward position has yet to be nailed down. There’s plenty of options for Zlatko Dalic’s to choose from; Dinamo Zagreb striker Bruno Petkovic had a strong qualifying campaign, but he’s disappointed in the latest Nations League round.

It’s strange to see Kramaric as favourite to be the Top Croatia Goalscorer, yet he’s as big as 150/1 (Spreadex) in the outright betting. That looks worthy of some each-way money given his excellent goals per-90 record in 2020/21.

He may well have played himself into a starting berth with a stunning end to the campaign, notching six goals in his final five outings despite operating behind Ihlas Bebou, and his versatility should also appeal to the Croatian coach.

One player who will be keen to stamp his authority is Hoffenheim striker ANDREJ KRAMARIC. In my opinion, the former Leicester man hasn’t received the credit he deserves for reviving his career in Germany – a 20-goal season in the Bundesliga demands serious respect, especially so considering he missed a good 6-7 weeks through injury. Kramaric has played as a number nine and 10 for

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Mark Stinchcombe @MarkStinchcombe

Mark Stinchcombe focuses on the prestigious Player of the Tournament market, an honour first awarded in the European Championships at Euro 96.

“The European Championship winner had always come from the team winner (5 out of 5) until 2016.” One key reason I believe this was the case is, the short format of 31 games.

trends. And let’s remember, 13 tournaments is a low spread of data.

Year 16/17, 17/18, 18/19

It’s not difficult to imagine in such a small spread of matches that it’s hard to look outside the winning team. But now the Euros format has been extended from 31 to 51 matches – a big increase of +65% games.

It’s widely accepted that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best players in the world.

n World Cup Young Player of the Tournament 2018

I believe Kylian Mbappe is the next best and alongside, Erling Haaland, could be set to dominate like Messi and Ronaldo for years to come.

n French Player of the Year 2018, 2019 (best French player in the world)

We can see in the World Cup, 64 matches, only once in the last seven tournaments has the winner come from the winning team. More matches mean more opportunities for players to shine outside of the winning team. However, the winner has always come from a team that makes at least the semi-finals (6+ matches). The change in the Euros format means sides that make the semis now play at least six matches compared to five in the previous format. Having said all of that, there was only one player I had in mind before I visited the

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His goals, his assists, his pace, his power, his agility, his tricks, his ability off the ball… the man is phenomenal. He explodes into life on a football pitch and that’s very much in keeping with how he exploded into senior football. Since bursting on the scene with Monaco, it’s 105 goals in 109 starts in Ligue 1 for Mbappe. In the Champions League, it’s 27 goals in 38 starts. For France, it’s 16 goals in his last 29 starts, including four goals at the World Cup. The man is just 22. His list of individual awards so far is endless: n Ligue Young Player of the

n Golden Boy 2017

n Kopa Trophy 2018

n Ligue 1 Player of the Year 18/19 N.B. The majority of 2020 awards were postponed. France are 11/2 to win the tournament but perhaps more interestingly 5/4 to reach the semis or to play six matches. Mbappe is 15/8 favourite to win the Ballon d’Or this year. I’ve said many a time he reminds me of the Brazilian Ronaldo and I believe he is a multi Ballon d’Or winner waiting to happen. Therefore, 10/1 (BetVictor) looks a great bet to win the Player of the Tournament and an additional reason to get excited when he’s in action.


PREVIOUS PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT WINNERS TOURNAMENT

WINNER

RUNNER UP

PLAYER OF THE TOURNAMENT

WC 2018

France (13/2F)

Croatia

Luka Modric (Croatia) 2 goals

EURO 2016

Portugal (22/1)

France

Antoine Griezmann (France) 6 goals, Top GS

WC 2014

Germany (6/1)

Argentina

Lionel Messi (Argentina) 4 goals

EURO 2012

Spain (3/1F)

Italy

Andres Iniesta (Spain) 0 goals

WC 2010

Spain (9/2F)

Holland

Diego Forlan (Uruguay – 4th) 5 goals, JT GS

EURO 2008

Spain (11/2)

Germany

Xavi (Spain) 1 goal

WC 2006

Italy (10/1)

France

Zinedine Zidane (France) 3 goals

EURO 2004

Greece (100/1)

Portugal

Theo Zagorakis (Greece) 0 goals

WC 2002

Brazil (7/1)

Germany

Oliver Kahn (Germany) GK

EURO 2000

France (13/2)

Italy

Zinedine Zidane (France) 2 goals

WC 1998

France (7/1)

Brazil

Ronaldo (Brazil) 4 goals

EURO 1996

Germany (9/2)

Czech Republic

Matthias Sammer (Germany) 2 goals

WC 1994

Brazil (10/3F)

Italy

Romario (Brazil) 5 goals

I’m keen on reigning champions Portugal to go well again under the guise of Fernando Santos, and with some of the additional players that have come to the fore since their success in the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix and Diogo Jota. That is more than reflected in their outright price of 9/1 however. Since the last Euros, the aforementioned Cristiano Ronaldo has 42 goals in just 40 caps. He’s understandably just 10/1 to be Top Goalscorer but if he is, or gets near it, and Portugal progress to the latter stages (2/1 to make the semis), 25/1 (BetVictor) is huge value for one of the greatest players of all-time to be crowned the tournament’s best player. For me there is no top country with a player in form that dominates/dictates that could lead to a winner like an Iniesta, Modric, Xavi etc. that is value at the prices. Kevin De Bruyne is 10/1 (BetVictor) but I would rather back Belgium at 13/2 if you fancied him. For example, Iniesta in comparison was much bigger at 16/1. So Mbappe and Ronaldo are my pair of punts to challenge for Player of the Tournament honours.

MARK’S VERDICT Player of the Tournament

Kylian Mbappe (10/1 BetVictor)

Cristiano Ronaldo (25/1 BetVictor)

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REFEREES FELIX BRYCH (45, Germany) The German referee is a doctor in law, having written a paper about sport. He has also written a book. Brych was promoted to the elite category at the start of the 20092010 season and was Referee of the Year in 2017. Likely to be his last International tournament. Trend: Loves the big occasion and will happily issue a red card if necessary.

MEET THE REFS Gavin Murphy

BOOKINGS boff Gavin Murphy has made WLB readers fall in love with the cards markets over the years and his forensic research has presented plenty of possible punting opportunities. We asked the King of Cards to analyse all the 18 whistleblowers to give us a glorious guide to the men in the middle that matter this summer.

The 16th running of the European Championship is upon us and, as ever, the men in the middle will play a crucial role in determining the outcome. For the first time, a South American official will join 18 European referees in what promises to be a feast of football. And Stephanie Frappart will become the first female official to be involved in a men’s European Championship. She will either be a fourth official, or a reserve assistant referee, throughout the tournament. So what can we expect in terms of discipline during the competition? Well, history shows us that the number of cards has steadily increased during recent editions. In Euro 2008, an average of 3.90 yellow cards per-match were flashed - this increased to 3.97 during Euro 2012, and

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the average rose to 4.04 per-game at Euro 2016. In terms of red cards, England’s Alan Mullery was the first man to receive his marching orders back in Euro ‘68 against Yugoslavia. Shane Duffy of Ireland was the last man to see red at Euro 2016 against France. Remarkably, a total of just three red cards were shown in each of the past three competitions. Of course, this time around we have VAR in operation and it remains to be seen what impact this may have on card tallies with the extra scrutiny that brings. Particular focus is expected on handball decisions, and players asking for VAR referrals. UEFA referees chief, Roberto Rosetti, speaking earlier this year, urged his troops to, “Take strong action in cases of mass confrontation between players on the field, as well as when you are being mobbed by players”.


Orel Grinfeld (39, Israel)

Little is known about his private life. The Israeli referee has been on the FIFA list of international referees since 2012. Seems to have been around a while without progressing to the very top echelons of officiating.

“HIS CARD TOTALS HAVE BEEN TRENDING DOWN FOR SOME TIME. DEFINITELY ONE TO CONSIDER FOR THE UNDERS MARKETS”

Trend: One to earmark for the ‘overs’ markets as ranks fifth out of 19 for cards issued.

Ovidiu Alin Hategan (40, Romania)

Sneaky value

Hategan majored in medicine at the Victor Babes University in Timisoara. Later, he taught anatomy in English in his hometown. The doctor has been a familiar face at many major events including the latter stages of UEFA competitions such as the Champions League. Trend: Tends to issue a lot less cards in international competition when compared to domestic action. Sneaky value in ‘unders’ markets for braver punters

Carlos Del Cerro Grande (45, Spain)

Istvan Kovacs (36, Romania)

All action

The Spaniard belongs to the Committee of Referees of the Community of Madrid. He has been an international referee since 2013 so has taken quite a while to arrive at the top table of European officials. As a police officer on leave, he now enjoys enforcing discipline on the pitch.

The second Romanian selected for this tournament hails from Carei. He has been a full international for FIFA since 2010. Trend: One of the harder officials to assess with most metrics hovering around the mean. Looks more likely to issue yellow cards though than compatriot Hategan.

Trend: Likely to be entertaining when he is involved as he scores highly for yellow cards produced, as well as number of penalties and red cards.

Sergei Karasev (41, Russia)

Andreas Ekberg (36, Sweden)

Cüneyt Çakır (44, Turkey)

A former police officer who lives in Malmo, Ekberg began refereeing matches in Torns IF when he was 13 years-old. One of the least experienced officials covering this tournament. Trend: Middle of the road official, who in-keeping with Scandinavian stereotypes, is likely to keep his cards in his pocket more than his peers.

Former Insurance agent from Istanbul. Cakir and his colleague Firat Aydinus were the first professional referees in the Turkish Super League. Vastly experienced official who has covered many major tournaments at club and international level. Indeed, Bjorn Kuipers and he are the only survivors from Euro 2012. Trend: His card totals have been trending down for some time. Definitely, one to consider for the ‘unders’ markets.

Spot kicks!

Karasev is married with two children. His primary hobby is attending heavy metal concerts, with Slayer being his favourite band. The Moscow man meets the standard UEFA criteria of experience and a no-nonsense approach to refereeing. Trend: Ranks third-most likely to award a penalty kick. Statistically, the second-most likely official to dismiss someone from the field of play.

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MICHAEL OLIVER (36, England)

Low cards

The Oliver family enjoyed a unique refereeing double when father Clive took charge of the 2009 League Two play-off final and Michael officiated the next day at the 2009 League One playoff final. He lists legendary FIFA referee Pierluigi Collina as his idol. Trend: The referee most likely to award a penalty kick in the tournament. Another to side with for the ‘unders’ markets for card punters.

Clément Turpin (39,

France)

The jurist from Rhone was a controversial appointment for the 2016 Euros when he was just 34. He was recognised as the best referee in 2019/20 by the French Football Federation. Given his tolerant nature and tendency to avoid controversy he could be a dark horse to feature in the latter stages of Euro 2020. Trend: Somewhat surprisingly, Turpin is the whistleblower most likely to issue a red card. Indeed, he has shown 10 reds in Ligue 1 and is well clear of his Sergei Karasev in the red cards per-game category.

Daniele ORSATO (45, Italy)

The whistleblower from Vincenza refereed the 2020 UEFA Champions League final between PSG and Bayern Munich. The (IFFHS) Referee of the Year in 2020. Orsato, like Lahoz and Kuipers, is another front runner to being blowing his whistle at Wembley on 11th July. Trend: A contender for the 4-6 card markets but swerve penalties.

“REMARKABLY, ORSATO HAS NOT AWARDED A SINGLE PENALTY IN 28 SERIE A MATCHES”.

Slavko VincIC (41, Slovenia)

A replacement for injured compatriot, Damir Skomina. Maribor-born Vincic was arrested as part of a police probe into a prostitution and drugs ring in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He insisted he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and later cleared of any wrong doing. Now he gets his chance to shine. Trend: Seven of his 11 major games this term featured fewer than five cards so he looks good for ‘unders’ backers.

Fernando Rapallini (43, Argentina)

Artur Manuel Ribeiro Soares Dias (41, Portugal)

The former human resource director from Vila Nova de Gaia was the youngest ever Portuguese referee to be used by FIFA. His father was also a referee. Dias is often seen refereeing all over the world and not just in Liga Nos. Trend: There has been an uptrend in his cards issued in recent year so one to pencil in for the ‘overs’.

As part of a referee exchange programme between CONMEBOL and UEFA, Rapallini was selected in April as a referee for Euro 2020.This marked the first time a South American referee had been selected to officiate at the Euros. It will be interesting to see if the man from La Plata tones down how often he reaches for his cards this summer. Trend: Unsurprisingly for a South American official, we can expect Rapallini to issue more yellow cards than any of his European counterparts. He averages around 1.5 cards more per-game than second placed, Carlos Cerro Grande.

Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz (45, Spain) Spain’s main representative following the retirement of Carlos Velasco Carballo in 2016. The Valencian native is known for his chatty and quirky approach to refereeing. Hugely experienced, this could be the last hurrah for the Spaniard who must rank as one of the favourites to officiate the final. Trend: Can often give four or five cards in a half and then zero in the second. Wholly inconsistent with wild swings of behaviour so one to circle for the half-time markets depending on what he has done in the first 45 minutes.

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“TAYLOR IS ONE OF THE MOST LIKELY TO GIVE A PENALTY”. AnTHONY TAYLOR (42, England) Having played in local football, a referees course was mentioned to Taylor in 1995. He comments “It was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to play at any higher level so decided to give the course a go”. Since then he has officiated many Cup finals and the 2020 UEFA Super Cup. Trend: One of the most likely to give a penalty. Unlikely to officiate too many matches given the pecking order so may want to make an impact. Looks value in the 4-6 cards market.

Danny Makkelie

Penalty King

Bjorn Kuipers (48, Netherlands)

(38, Netherlands)

Besides refereeing he works as a police inspector in Rotterdam.

Daniel Siebert (36, Germany)

The Dutch referee was criticised after a Portugal winner wasn’t given in the World Cup qualifiers, as Cristiano Ronaldo managed to beat the goalkeeper for a last-gasp 3-2 winner, and the ball seemed to cross the line completely before the desperate clearance. Despite this, he is viewed as an up-andcoming star in the eyes of referee boss Roberto Rosetti.

Sports scientist from west Berlin. In October 2014, it was announced Siebert would replace Wolfgang Stark as a FIFA referee in 2015. This made Siebert the youngest of the 10 German FIFA referees. He is arguably the surprise appointment for this tournament given his lack of ‘big’ games during the season.

Trend: Highly likely to point to the penalty spot during the tournament given his domestic record this season. Looks one to earmark for the ‘unders’ in the cards markets.

Trend: An inconsistency between his fouls per-game data (lowest of all the referees) and yellow cards issued, suggests he could be a quiet enforcer and value for the ‘overs’.

His father was also a football referee at the amateur level. Kuipers studied business administration the Radboud University Nijmegen and is also the owner of a number of supermarkets and a hair studio in his hometown Oldenzaal. He was the bookies’ favourite to cover the World Cup final in 2018 but lost out to 25/1 shot Nestor Pitana. Trend: As is historically evident with officials desperate to seize their last chance at covering the final, expect low cards from Kuipers as he seeks to avoid controversy.

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LONG SHOTS

LONG-SHOT lover James Cantrill (@JimmyThePunt) has scoured the plethora of Euro 2020 markets and picked out his favourite fancies at nice prices to support this summer.

EDEN HAZARD to be Player of the Tournament (66/1 Betfred)

should bring in engineers to design shin pads that would protect Hazard’s calves. Given that the 30-yearold drew 638 fouls in the top-flight - an average of one every 26 minutes - it was a miracle he never sustained a serious injury during his seven years in London.

Two words for you; shop window. To say that Eden Hazard’s ‘dream move’ to Real Madrid has not worked out quite the way he wanted would be a bit of an understatement. In his two seasons in the Spanish capital, the Belgian had made just 31 starts across all competitions - and scored or assisted a combined total of 10 goals. The squat maverick was brought in to help fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo. However, Hazard’s been blighted by 10 different types of injuries. It’s meant his ‘famous arse’ has spent the majority of its time sitting on the treatment table instead of shaking off defenders at the Bernabéu. At Chelsea, Jose Mourinho once joked that the club

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This tournament provides Hazard a chance to remind Europe’s big clubs of what he’s capable of. I’m sure everyone remembers his match-winning efforts in the Premier League, such as jinking his way past seven West Ham players and drilled the ball home into the bottom corner, or the time he secured the title for Leicester with a first-time finessed finish round the flailing arms of Hugo Lloris… The Red Devils skipper is a classy operator and Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has said he is happy with Hazard’s fitness levels. There’s s a chance he will feature prominently this summer and I am more than happy to take the 40/1 on Eden being named Player of the Tournament, especially considering the same selection is as short as 20/1 elsewhere.


Mason Mount to be Player of the Tournament (66/1 Betfred) This award’s last six winners were Antoine Griezmann (2016), Andres Iniesta (2012), Xavi (2008), Theodoros Zagorakis (2004), Zinedine Zidane (2000), Matthias Sammer (1996). Despite losing the final in extra-time, Griezmann scooped this personal accolade four years ago after he scored six goals and registered two assists, a combined average of 1.29 goal contributions per-90 minutes played. However, UEFA are not just seduced by goal contributions, as the previous two winners illustrate. Despite only registering two assists, Don Andres won the POTT in 2012 as he started every game and dazzled with his feet. Prior to that, his compatriot Xavi ‘the Puppet Master’ as crowned after orchestrating La Roja’s historic title. Rather fittingly, given Mason Mount’s versatility, you could draw parallels – possibly a little ambitiously - to all three of previous winners. And in terms of the data, the Chelsea ace is hot on their heels. Mount has averaged 0.40 goals and assists per-90 in a domestic career that has just eclipsed 14,000 minutes. Since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge, he’s moved to another level, well and truly dispelling any lingering

This longshot combines the tournament favourites to be crowned Euro 2020 champions with one of the hottest strikers on the continent to win the Top Goalscorer gong. Didier Deschamps has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal with Les Bleus. You could even argue that, with the addition of Karim Benzema, this France side is stronger than the 2018 World Cup winners’ edition. However, despite the array of attacking talent at their disposal, the pragmatic head coach has built his success on a solid defence. In the latter stages of the World Cup, France opted for a 4-4-2 against the more dangerous sides as they deployed

doubts over his ability. In the Champions League semi-finals versus Real Madrid, Mount’s late goal secured the Blues’ spot in the final and capped off an outstanding evening for the young Englishman. It was the type of performance that saw the likes of Lionel Messi suggest he has the potential to be one of the best. Odds-wise, it’s worth noting that, along with Declan Rice, Mount is England’s most likely player to start against Croatia. And given how heavily he has featured for Gareth Southgate. he should see a lot of game time this summer. Mount has gone from strength-to-strength these last few seasons and in a tournament that sees England as second favourites, the price is worth a small punt at 66/1.

France to win EURO 2020 & Lukaku to be Top scorer (66/1 Betfred) a low block and looked to strike in transition, utilising the pace of Kylian Mbappe. Whilst this ultimately proved to be a winning formula, I do think it limited the amount of chances their forwards were presented with. This is why, whilst I think Les Blues will take the Euros title, although I do not feel they will house the Top Goalscorer. In the 2018 World Cup, Belgium were the nation that scored the most goals (16) and Romelu Lukaku bagged a quarter of that tally, averaging 0.76 goal-per-90 minutes. The big Belgian contributed to 35 goals in Serie A this term - the most in the league – and fell five goals shy of Capocannoniere winner Cristiano Ronaldo. It feels like he has come of age in Italy under Antonio Conte – he’s the main man at San Siro and shown he isn’t scared of anything, or anyone as he went toe-to-toe (or nose-to-nose) with Zlatan in the derby. Lukaku is a bit of a flat-track bully and should relish the group stages. He won his first silverware - the Scudetto – this season and so should come into this tournament brimming with confidence. Chuck in the creativity of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard behind and the Red Devils dynamo could rack up plenty of goals.

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LONG SHOTS

Germany to be the Lowest Scoring Team (100/1 BETVICTOR)

Germany historically prides itself on its reputation as a Turniermannschaft, a team that improves as tournaments progress. No matter how dismal the situation might be, their ability to come good in major competitions has almost always been admired. However, it has been a turbulent few years for Die Mannschaft with the 2014 World Cup winners crashing out of the group stage in 2018, and I get the feeling that Joachim Low’s swansong may not go to plan. Since conquering the globe in 2014, Germany has been in a steady decline. Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose, Per Mertesacker and Bastian Schweinsteiger had all retired by 2016, and with it, Germany lost its spine and leadership. Following a disappointing Euro 2016 - knocked-out in the semi-finals, as well as the awful effort in Russia, Low decided radical change was required. This began in March 2019 when Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mat Hummels were all dropped as Germany’s supremo shifted focus to building a new, younger team. Perhaps the writing was on the wall though when Germany could only muster three draws against the Netherlands and Serbia that month, conceding five goals in the process. Fast forward two years, and following a 6-0 defeat to Spain and a 2-1 loss to North Macedonia, Low has brought Muller and Hummels back in from the cold, all but abandoning his plans for a rebuild. Now, he’s looking to protect his legacy and he’ll need all the help he can get if Die Mannschaft are going to get out of the ‘Group of Death’. No side scored fewer goals than Germany at the last World Cup (2) , and even with the improvements to the squad, I think at 100/1 an interest wager for the fallen giants to struggle in the final-third once more is worthwhile.

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Turkey to be the Highest Scoring Team (100/1 BET365)

The case has been well made for Turkey being this tournament’s dark horses. Opening quotes of 100/1 have long gone with bookmakers seeing the Crescent Stars price backed quashed in recent months as punters catch-on to Senol Gunes’ group. Turkey shocked the planet at the 2002 World Cup when finishing third, then repeated the trick six years later at the European Championship. If that was to be the pinnacle of the national team’s

accomplishments then the last decade saw the side slide into the abyss. However, the current crop appear perfectly poised as Euro 2020 looms. Gunes’ has a ridiculously talented squad at his disposal, featuring the likes of Burak Yilmaz, Caglar Soyuncu, Ozan Kabak, Cengiz Under, Hakan Calhanoglu, Okay Yokuslu and Yusuf Yazici to name just a few, and have scored 10 goals in their last three international fixtures. At a three-figure price, Turkey to be the competition’s top scorers could be worth a little tipple

Name The Finalists: France vs Turkey (150/1 BETVICTOR) Whilst high-odds mean there is greater scope for a range of prices, I do think it is worth noting that Bet365 have this bet at just 66/1. It could be argued that a side’s form going into a tournament counts for nothing but you cannot ignore the fact that Turkey took four points from France in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign.

The Crescent Stars also put four past the Netherlands as recently as March and scored a further three against Norway’s golden generation only three days later. I do not think I can be backing Turkey to win the competition at around 50/1 but predicting the final two provides us with a nice wayin at a huge price as an alternative option.

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t? ke ar m r ne in W ht ig tr Ou e th up e ic pr u yo How do

SHOUTING THE

ODDS Beat the bookies at their own game by finding an edge when it comes to understanding and beating the odds.

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How do bookmakers calculate all the Outright odds markets?

Mark Stinchcombe @MarkStinchcombe ODDS COMPILER Mark Stinchcombe explains how operators price up the Outright Winner market ahead of major tournaments and after running his own Monte Carlo simulation for every team (tables below) shares his own expertise ahead of Euro 2020.

Odds

xPts

xG xG For Against

ITALY

1.60

6.21

5.10

SWITZERLAND

5.59

3.87

3.57

3.81

TURKEY

7.76

3.43

3.42

4.21

WALES

11.78

2.87

3.00

4.45

GROUP A 2.62

GROUP B Belgium

1.74

6.20

5.68

3.01

Denmark

3.63

4.80

4.36

3.52

Russia

6.92

3.83

3.69

4.02

Finland

51.28

1.73

2.59

5.76

Netherlands

1.42

6.78

5.95

2.61

Ukraine

6.29

4.25

3.90

3.74

Austria

7.54

3.95

3.83

4.02

62.50

1.63

2.39

5.70

England

1.52

6.46

5.61

2.72

Croatia

4.73

4.36

3.89

3.58

Czech ReP

12.06 3.03

3.15

4.49

Scotland

16.69

2.63

2.94

4.81

Who’s going to win the league, who’s going to finish in the top-four, who’s going to be relegated? Why is Team X favourite for the league despite finishing miles off the pace last season? Why isn’t Team Y odds-on for relegation when bottom after six games? The answers are relatively straight-forward. Each team is accurately rated in terms of ability and then fed into a method called a Monte Carlo simulation which will in-turn provide the odds.

favourites at 11/10 (2.11), ahead of France at around 2/1 (3.04), despite the fact that France are 11/2 (6.60) compared to Germany at 9/1 (10.00) in the actual Euro 2020 Outright markets.

What is a Monte Carlo simulation? A Monte Carlo simulation will simulate a season thousands of times to introduce randomness to ultimately alleviate randomness. By simulating stacks of seasons, randomness is effectively ironed out.

This is because Germany play all their games at home in Munich, and are thus favourites to win each. If you believe home advantage is a factor, back Germany at 6/4 (2.50) to win Group F. Bookmakers are split between Germany and France and the best French price is only 13/8 (2.63).

More simulations = less exposure to outliers and less deviations, meaning the closer we will get to the theoretical mean – the true odds. In-order to achieve optimum results, lots of simulations are required to reduce the margin of error.

GROUP C

N Macedonia

GROUP D

GROUP E Spain

1.30

7.05

6.33

2.58

Poland

8.84

3.82

3.70

4.12

Sweden

9.64

3.70

3.59

4.16

Slovakia

39.37 2.06

2.68

5.44

For example, Manchester City are the favourites to win every single football match due to their impressive underlying performance numbers. But we know they don’t win every single game because of the random nature of football matches. Loss of form, injuries, referee decisions etc. So what odds should we offer if we know they’re the best team but are highly unlikely to win all 38 games? This will tell us. Let’s look at an example. I created a basic Monte Carlo simulation and took the bookmakers odds for the 36 group-stage matches and simulated them 10,000 times to see the Winner odds, Expected Points (xPts) and Expected Goals (xG). You can see the results in the tables on the left. Now, Group F is interesting. We have Germany

However, if you believe home advantage is negated by the lack of/no fans, then back Portugal to top the group at 9/2 (5.50). The disparity is huge when you consider they are almost the same odds to win the competition as Germany, and Portugal are arguably in the driving seat if they win their opener versus Hungary, compared to the tough clash between France and Germany which neither will want to lose. This rationale also applies to Belgium’s pool – Group B - with Denmark playing all their group games in Copenhagen. Even so, in this instance I prefer Belgium -0.25 on the Asian Handicap against the Danes at similar odds as winning the group. If they fail to beat Denmark, then winning the group suddenly is a lot harder. At least backing them -0.25 will give us half our money back if the game ends all-square. Belgium beat Denmark 4-2 and 2-0 in the Nations League in 2020 and I believe playerfor-player the group favourites are better in every position than the Danes. After all, Roberto Martinez’s men have won 28 of their last 32 matches as favourites, with just a solitary defeat.

MARK’S VERDICT

GROUP F 2.11

5.72

5.52

3.24

3.04

5.15

4.63

3.36

PORTUGAL TO WIN GROUP F (9/2 Betway)

Portugal

5.13

4.24

4.00

3.77

Belgium -0.25 ASIAN HANDICAP v DENMARK (8/11 Marathonbet)

Hungary

65.79

1.48

2.75

6.54

Germany France

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TARTAN MEMORIES

#4

NORWAY 2004

#3

ITALY 2007

NETHERLANDS 2003

#2

ENGLAND 1999

#1

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT “IT’S SHITE BEING SCOTTISH” One of the most iconic lines in UK cinema from recent years has a real resonance about it. But it’s remarkable that this line was uttered by Mark Renton in 1996. What would the Trainspotting character have said two decades later after a string of miserable attempts by the national team to qualify for a major tournament? Incredibly, the long, long run of unfulfilled hope comes to and end this summer as Scotland take their place at Euro 2020. But for old times

sake eh, let’s have one last self-indulgent, lager-laced soak in the misery of the last two decades. Here are five of my most painful games: Scotland 0-2 England 1999 The agony started here. Both sides stumbled into the playoffs after campaigns polluted with draws against the Faroes and Estonia (Scotland) and crass assumptions on the disabled (England). Naturally though, this game

116 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

Chris Graham @chrisgraham79

Chris recounts some testing times as a Scotland fan which makes Euro 2020 all the sweeter for the Tartan Army.

felt massive. I was a checkout boy at prototype discount supermarket Kwik Save and was quick to try and book the day off. When permission was not granted to take that busy Saturday off a four week standoff ensued between myself and the management, which led me to resign before hotfooting up to the bright lights of Edinburgh to take in this match. The day was a disaster with Paul Scholes clinically killing off the game in the first half


CZECH REPUBLIC 2011

#5

“Nursing a colossal hangover, the twin realisations that Scotland had missed out on Euro 2000 and I was unemployed hit home hard” Dutch hammered us 6-0 in Amsterdam. The desolation, confusion and anger surrounding the pub that night was overwhelming. This would be the last time Scotland finished in the top two of their group in any main qualifying section and it put to bed any ambiguity about whether Berti Vogts was the right man to be in charge. A sting in the tail that night for me was waking at up at 3am and seeing my mate midsleepwalk urinating all over my bedroom floor. A night never to forget. Scotland 1-2 Italy 2007

with a brace. Near the final whistle, the atmosphere in the pub turned nasty and the big trip to Edinburgh had seriously backfired. The following evening, nursing a colossal hangover in Tamsons in Leith Walk, the twin realisations that Scotland had missed out on Euro 2000 and I was unemployed hit home hard. Some Scots still take solace in the 1-0 return leg win at Wembley four days later, I don’t. Holland 6-0 Scotland 2003 Hey, don’t get me wrong, there were some real highs within the 22 years of misery. The 1-0 win over Holland in the Euro 2004 play-offs first leg propelled a fresh-faced James McFadden into the national consciousness and gave us real hope of playing in Portugal that summer. The sight of pint glasses being thrown in the air that day in The Shakespeare in Edinburgh was a wonderful vision but the brutal comedown came four days later when the

What a campaign! Nothing in football has captured me more than Scotland’s ultimately fruitless (getting the gist here?) Euro 2008 qualifying campaign. Home and away victories over France were the 21st century highs before that night in Belgrade last year and for me the campaign was housed in the Famous Three Kings bar in West London. This bar captures the sporting multi-culturalism of London beautifully with the room packed with TVs showing a wide variety of games from different corners of the globe. Big qualifying days would be like a mini fan zone at a major tournament with a wide spectrum of nationalities mingling as their nations aimed to take three points in the race for a major tournament berth. It was all pieced together by one guy on the mic, regaling the scores, getting fan reactions and shouting out goals as they happened. The Famous Three Kings had taken me and my mates to a last game decider against Italy at Hampden where a

win was needed to qualify. It was off to Glasgow Green to watch it in a giant tent and when Luca Toni scored in just two minutes, the feeling of impending doom kicked in. Scotland were superb though and dug in hard that day and when Barry Ferguson equalised halfway through the second half hope returned. Ultimately though, it was not to be as Christian Panucci scored in stoppage time to end the dream. Watching Craig Gordon’s crumpled face as he pulls the ball out of the net still gets to me all these years later. A painful end to a pulsating campaign. Norway 4-0 Scotland 2009 Things took a nosedive after Alex McLeish left for Birmingham in 2007 and the George Burley era will be best remembered for his rows with Kris Boyd, the Chris Iwelumo miss and this match in Norway. I’d moved on from The Famous Three Kings now and was frequenting the Rob Roy pub in Paddington for big Scotland games. A stones throw from the world-class Lebanese and Turkish cuisine in Edgware Road, this pub took me right back to my Dumfries roots. The only lager they served was Tennents, the toilets were foul, the carpet was sticky and the place was inhabited by Glengarry clad middle aged men imbued with an overpowering acrid smell of sweat and body odour surrounding them. It was pure heaven! Closed down a few years ago, I would have paid four figures to be there during that Serbia match last year. The foul smell of the Rob Roy was appropriate during

this match as Burley’s side unravelled in front of our eyes in Oslo. After a decent start it all fell to pieces when Gary Caldwell was sent off in the 33rd minute and John Arne Riise scored from the resulting free kick. The Norwegians scored another before half-time and as the game ended 4-0 later that evening, a place at South Africa had all but vanished. Scotland 2-2 Czech Rep 2011 Scotland get their Euro 2020 campaign up and running against the Czech Republic, a decade on from the doom of this 2011 match. This game had been ringed in my diary for months as close friends of my then girlfriend were getting married that day. After much debate, I managed to score a pass and disentangle myself from the main ceremony that day to watch this match instead. It did not go down well. Dressed in wedding attire in The Old Kings Head in London Bridge, this was another painful match as Scotland needed three points to stay alive in the play-off race. After a spirited display with captain Darren Fletcher getting us back in front with seven minutes to go, the whole thing fell to pieces when the Czechs were awarded a controversial penalty in the last minute of the match. The 2-2 draw left Scotland with too much to do to qualify for a Euro 2012 play off place and it was a seventh straight failure to qualify. The evening was topped off wonderfully when my girlfriend, still hurt by my wedding snub, blew the full-time whistle on our own two-year campaign that night.

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STATS & TRENDS

21% From Euro ’96, the most popular group-stage correct score is 1-0, occurring in 33/156 (21%) of fixtures, with 2-1 next best having landed in 29/156 (19%) matches. Together the two correct scores make up 40% of group-stage scores.

Only TWO refereeS has previously taken charge of the European Championship final in the same season as officiating the Champions League final.

Over

2.5

Goals Over 2.5 Goals punters have collected in 67/162 (41%) groupstage games since the start of Euro ’96 with Both Teams To Score backers winning 72/162 (44%). The average goals-per-game in group-stage games stands at 2.28.

EX T RA-T IME Since 1980, 48% of European Championship knockout games went to extra time with 32% being decided on penalties – two third of the extra-time encounters were still locked level after 120 minutes.

Of the 22 sides to qualify for the Euros unbeaten since 1992, only Spain and Italy (both Euro 2012) have made the final.

The last six European Championship winners won their qualifying group. the first five in the betting suit this trend.

4

Four of the last SIX World Cup holders to turn up at the European Championship reached the final of the competition. This is good news for backers of world champions FRANCE.

Over the past six European Championships, 32 of the 48 goals (67%) scored by the 12 players who top-scored came in the group-stage. 118 | WELOVEBETTING ULTIMATE EURO 2020 BETTING GUIDE

SHEARRRREEERRR! No player has top scored in their domestic league and at the European Championships since Alan Shearer in 1996.

2.12 GOALS PER GAME

The first set of group-games tends to be the tightest with opening fixtures from Euro ’96 to Euro 2016 averaging just 2.12 goals-per-game with 31% of encounters ending level. Goals rise to 2.40 for the second round of group-games with draws dropping to 29% and goals peaking at 2.58 for the concluding group-games with stalemates at just 12%.

0-0 Since Euro ’96, the 0-0 correct score has banked in only 12 of 156 Euro group-games – that’s 8%.

Remarkably, three of the last eight European Championship winners failed to qualify for the World Cup two years earlier. Half of the 24 nations at Euro 2020 failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

Over 2.5 Goals punters have collected in 67/156 (43%) group-stage games since the start of Euro ’96 with Both Teams To Score backers winning 72/156 (46%). The average goals-per-game in groupstage games stands at 2.51.


THANK Y U! Finally, a big thank you for purchasing the preview magazine. It’s been months in the making and weeks at the coalface, giving us many sleepless nights. We hope you’ve enjoyed the content and picked up a few potential punting opportunities to make the tournament a success. A big nod must also go to the many contributors who’ve played their own part across the 100+ pages. So in no particular order, we’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the guide, including: Tom Love (@TomLove_18), Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984), Jack Wright (@JackWright_ BSB), Mark Stinchcombe @MarkStinchcombe), Jason Murphy (@jasonjmurphy1), Gavin Murphy, James Cantrill (@JimmyThePunt), Andy Brassell (@andybrassell), Kevin Hatchard (@ KevinHatchard),Adrian Clarke (@adrianjclarke), Sam Tighe (@stighefootball), Jeevan Jeyaratnam (@ JeevesOdds), Martin Laurence (@martinlaurence7), @Bet_On_Value, Ian Broadrick (@brodders_be), Neil McDonald (@NeilMac555), Tipster Wizard (@wizard_season), Jake Osgathorpe (@JAKEOZZ), Alex Jones (@AlexJ0nes9), Ben Ragg (@punters_corner_), Brett Curtis (@brett_curtis92), Gerry Taylor (@TheFurlongPole), Joshua Jones (@joshuapsjones), Marcus Ally (@marcus_ally_4), Will Dyer (@W2Dyer), James Potter (@TheBettingDesk), James O’Rourke (@JamesOR1), Chris Graham (@ChrisGraham79) and Selectabet (@selectabet).

ANALYSIS. INSIGHT. ADVICE.

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Euro 2020 - The Ultimate Betting Guide  

We’ve jam-packed 120 pages of unmissable Euro 2020 betting content to give you the best opportunity of success this summer. From the Outrig...

Euro 2020 - The Ultimate Betting Guide  

We’ve jam-packed 120 pages of unmissable Euro 2020 betting content to give you the best opportunity of success this summer. From the Outrig...

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