Betting Week in Review: The Euros Feature
The delayed Euro 2020 tournament finally got underway on Friday when Turkey took on Italy. England’s campaign started on Sunday with a game against Croatia, who knocked England out of the World Cup in 2018. We review these games in our betting week in review.
Punters Cheers As England Banish Opening Match Curse
It has been a very long time in the making, but England finally won their opening match at a European Championship. The 1-0 win over Croatia was the first time England was victorious on matchday one at the tenth time of asking, and for England fans, it was sweet revenge as Croatia knocked out the Three Lions in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
England manager Gareth Southgate raised a few eyebrows with his team selection, playing Atletico Madrid right-sided defender at left-back, overlooking Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw, who were both in the squad. Luke Shaw was named a substitute, but Chelsea’s Chilwell and the highly-rated Jadon Sancho were dropped for the game.
The gamble on Chilwell looked like it would pay off for Southgate as England started well in the game, and the 30-year looked dangerous down the left. The Three Lions nearly took the lead after five minutes, Phil Foden hitting the post with the keeper beaten, and the Manchester City man was unlucky that his shot didn’t deflect in off the goalkeeper as it bounced clear.
It took Croatia twenty-six minutes before they had a meaningful attempt at goal. Inter’s Ivan Perisic had his only shot of the match, but it never troubled Jordan Pickford in the England goal.
The only goal of the game was scored in the second half by Raheem Sterling. His well-taken goal in the 57th minute capped off a great week for the player. The 26-year-old will receive an MBE from the Queen for his work to promote racial equality.
Credit for the goal must go to Kalvin Phillips, who had a stunning game for England. The Leeds United man looked a threat all game and deservedly picked up the man-of-the-match award. The 25-year-old never stopped running all game and had a successful passing percentage of 93.9%. Other England players who had a good game include Tyrone Mings, John Stones and Mason Mount.
It wasn’t a great result for bookies, with the English team backed heavily for the win. The odds at kick-off were 11/20 for an England win. A Croatia win was priced @301/50 and the draw 313/100. A saving grace was the low scoring nature of the match with plenty of punters betting on the over 2.5 market, and there were no winners of the multi-goalscoring markets.
Italy Destroy Turkey in the Euro 2020 Opener
Turkey were many people’s dark horses for the tournament, but the bookies had this spot on when pricing them @ 184/25 to beat the Italians, who themselves were priced @ 11/25.
Italy, perhaps inspired by Italian opera tenor Andrea Bocelli’s rendition of Nessun Dorma, always looked likely to continue their impressive recent form, which has seen Roberto Mancini’s side unbeaten in 28 matches. The last time the Azzurri lost was in September 2018.
Italy always looked the likelier to score first, and Turkey had goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir to thank for going into the second-half goalless, saving well from Italy’s 36-year-old veteran Giorgio Chiellini. However, it was only a temporary reprieve as Italy took the lead eight minutes after the interval, Turkey’s Merih Demiral putting past Cakir when attempting to cut out a Domenico Berardi cross.
Just over ten minutes later, Lazio forward Ciro Immobile made it 2-0. The 31-year-old pounced on the rebound after the keeper saved a Leonardo Spinazzola shot. Then, in the 79th minute, Lorenzo Insigne scored his 21st goal of the season with a classy finish after a great pass from Immobile to put the game beyond doubt.
In the same group, Wales started their Euro 2020 campaign with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Switzerland. They had Kieffer Moore to thank for giving them a share of the spoils after the Swiss had taken the lead in the 49th-minute goal from a Breel Embolo header from an Xherdan Shaqiri’s corner. A bandaged Moore flicked a header into the bottom corner in the 74th minute from a Joe Morrell chipped cross. Switzerland thought they had a second goal late on, but VAR ruled out Mario Gravanovic’s goal for offside.
In other games, Belgium, the world’s number one ranked team, put in a dominant performance against Russia. Romelu Lukaku scored twice in a 3-0 win. Substitute Thomas Meunier scored the other goal. Austria beat newcomers North Macedonia 3-1, and the Netherland beat Ukraine 3-2 in a five-goal thriller.
The biggest talking point of the weekend was in the game between Denmark and Finland. Finland won the game 1-0, but the result was very much inconsequential after Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch. The 29-year-old fell to the ground with a suspected heart attack after 41 minutes and received CPR. The former Tottenham man had 15 minutes of treatment on the pitch before regaining consciousness and was transferred to the hospital. The game was postponed for an hour before continuing after the news was received that Eriksen was improving.
It was a controversial decision to restart the match, and under normal circumstances, you would have expected Kasper Schmeichel to do better with Joel Pohjanpalo’s header.
Denmark had a chance to equalise after being awarded a penalty after a foul on Yussef Poulsen. However, Lukas Hradecky easily saved Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s poor effort. Ironically, in normal circumstances, Christian Eriksen would have been the Danish penalty taker.