Euro 2016 Preview

Italy will be looking to qualify for the next round of Euro 2016 when they take on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's Sweden. 

Friday 17 June

8/10 Italy | Draw 24/10 | Sweden 38/10 (15:00)

A superbly-executed strategy by coach Antonio Conte helped Italy to a deserved 2-0 win over Belgium in their Euro 2016 opener with outstanding goals by Emanuele Giaccherini and Graziano Pelle on Monday. In terms of pure footballing ability, Italy's team is regarded as one of the weakest in years, yet they were still too streetwise for a Belgium team that once again failed to live up to their own high expectations. The defence, featuring Juventus trio Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli, was outstanding but this was by no means the sort of negative or cynical performance that has marred Italy's reputation in the past. Conte's men looked to attack in numbers when they had the chance and, for all of Belgium's possession, Thibaut Courtois was the busier goalkeeper. The Azzurri will be hoping to build on that performance against Sweden, who will once again rely on Zlatan Ibrahimovic to produce his magic. Sweden came away with a 1-1 draw against Ireland on Monday, thanks to an own goal from Ciaran Clark. Erik Hamren’s side looked bereft of a clear game plan and Ibrahimovic often looked too isolated up front to be a real threat. Sweden finished the game without a single shot on target. The Italians could prove to be too challenging for the Ibrahimovic-reliant Swedes. Back Italy at 8/10 and include them in all multiples.

34/10 Czech Republic | 24/10 | Croatia 17/20 (18:00)

Czech Republic come off a 1-0 defeat to reigning European champions Spain, courtesy of an 87th minute goal from Gerard Pique. Petr Cech was in phenomenal form with the Arsenal shot-stopper thwarting Alvaro Morata and co on various occasions. But embarrassingly for his international team-mates, Cech also made more passes (36) in the game than any other Czech Republic player. Unfortunately for the 34-year-old, he was unable to keep a clean sheet when Pique popped up with a late header to break Czech hearts. Apart from their brilliant defending and super saves from Cech, Czech Republic struggled to create opportunities going forward and could face more difficulties against Croatia. The Blazers got their Euro 2016 campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 victory over Turkey. Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric got the winner just before half-time with a well taken dipping volley in a game that the Croats fully dominated. With quality players like Modric, Ivan Perisic, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, Croatia are tipped to win at 17/20.

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Saturday 18 June

13/20 Belgium | 29/10 | Republic of Ireland 4/1 (15:00)

Belgium, heralded for their superb quality and young players, started off with a demoralising 2-0 loss to Italy at Stade de Lyon on Monday. Marc Wilmots’ decision to leave out Yannick Carrasco backfired as Belgium ran out of ideas to breakthrough Italy’s rock-solid defence. Belgium were very disappointing, with Romelu Lukaku and Divock Origi wasteful in front of goal. For all their gifted individuals, the Red Devils looked a disjointed force as both Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne ran into white shirts whenever they took possession. When chances did come Belgium's way, wayward striking and poor control let them down. The Red Devils will be hoping to bounce back strongly against Republic of Ireland, but they’ll need their best players to shine. Republic of Ireland had to settle for a 1-1 draw with Sweden in their opening Euro 2016 game at Stade de France. Clark's own goal was a bitter disappointment for Ireland, who will count themselves as unfortunate not to have taken the three points. But while the draw may have felt like a missed opportunity, their impressive performance helped banish the unhappy memories of Euro 2012. Ireland will fancy their chances against wounded Belgium. However, the Red Devils should have far too much quality and are tipped to claim their first win of the tournament.

Sunday 19 June

1/1 Romania | 5/2 | Albania 11/4 (21:00)

Romania suffered a 2-1 defeat to France in their group opener last week Friday, courtesy of a wonderful late goal from Dimitri Payet. Rather than sitting tight and congesting the space in their own final third, Romania flooded the midfield, robbing Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi of the time to think and create. It forced Payet to come deep to help out and it meant that when Romania did win the ball back, they often had runners from deep. They limited France's flow and were in the game, at least until Payet had the brilliant final word. Romania were unbeaten throughout their 10 qualifiers and were incredibly watertight, conceding just the two goals along the way. Lorik Cana was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in Albania's 1-0 defeat against Switzerland. The Eagles will struggle without their captain and Romania should claim a vital victory.

Monday 20 June

47/10 Slovakia | 3/1 | England 11/20 (21:00)

Slovakia were confident ahead of Euro 2016 following a strong preparation for the tournament, which included a 3-1 victory against Germany but they failed to show their quality in last weekend's 2-1 defeat to Wales. Slovakia were poor, especially in the first half, and they were not able to keep the ball or cope with Wales' aggressive pressing. Jan Kozak’s side did not play their counter-attacking style, which suits them the most. England once again failed to start a major tournament with victory as Vasili Berezutski's stoppage-time header gave Russia a draw they barely deserved. Roy Hodgson's side were dominant and fully merited the lead given to them when Eric Dier crashed a 20-yard free-kick high past keeper Igor Akinfeev with 17 minutes left. As the chances racked up - and were not taken - in a fine first half, the argument that this England side lack a ruthless streak gained weight. However, England can take a lot of positives and will look to kill their opponents off. The Three Lions are tipped to secure maximum points here.

12/10 Russia | 9/4 | Wales 24/10 (21:00)

A stoppage-time goal by captain Vasili Berezutski gave Russia an unlikely 1-1 draw with England after Eric Dier appeared to have won the game. Russia seemed to be suffering from the absence of the combative Igor Denisov, ruled out of the tournament through injury, as Roman Neustadter and Alexander Golovin, both making their competitive debuts, were left chasing shadows. The Russians gained a foothold in the second half, slowing the game down and finally keeping some possession, but they were lucky to split the spoils. Russia will struggle to stop Gareth Bale who was on target as the Welsh claimed a 2-1 win in their opening game against Slovakia. The Real Madrid star hit seven of Wales' 11 goals in qualifying and he’ll be a constant threat to the Russians. Wales did not simply collect three points in Bordeaux; they comfortably won with a scintillating display of attacking football that will have their fans starting to believe. The Welsh are tipped at valuable odds of 24/10.

Tuesday 21 June

7/4 Ukraine | 22/10 | Poland 16/10 (18:00)

Ukraine, who are only competing at their second European Championship after joint-hosting the tournament four years ago, reached Euro 2016 through the play-offs but did not look out of their depth against world champions Germany. Ukraine had the better opportunities to score in the first half and must have wished they could still call on the services of Andriy Shevchenko, who scored their only European Championship goals four years ago and is now part of Mykhailo Fomenko's coaching staff. Although Fomenko's side had decent chances to score, Germany never looked like losing the grip of the game, with Toni Kroos bossing the midfield to engineer a deserved 2-0 win. A goal by Arkadiusz Milik was enough for Poland to break down a determined Northern Ireland and hand his team a 1-0 victory this past Sunday. That was Poland’s first ever win at a European Championship following two disappointing displays in the last two tournaments, including in 2012 when as co-host they finished bottom of their group. Poland have a much stronger team now with quality players like Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jakub Blaszczykowski, Lukasz Piszczek and Robert Lewandowski. Back Poland to claim victory at 16/10.

12/1 Northern Ireland | 52/10 | Germany 2/9 (18:00)

Northern Ireland suffered a 1-0 defeat to Poland in their opening Euro 2016 match last Sunday. An Arkadiusz Milik goal early in the second period of the Euro 2016 contest inflicted a first defeat in 13 on Michael O'Neill's side, who were the first to represent their country at a tournament since the class of the 1986 World Cup. O'Neill's side were stubborn, resilient and well-organised and while they shackled Robert Lewandowski, strike partner Milik's lethal finish just after the interval proved their undoing. Northern Ireland will face Group C favourites Germany, who produced a 2-0 victory against Ukraine, courtesy of goals from Shkodran Mustafi and substitute Bastian Schweinsteiger. There were spells when Germany threatened to return to their 2014 best, but also longer spells in which we saw the kind of problems that threaten to deny them doing that historic double of two successive international trophies. Germany have a plethora of weapons in their attack with the likes of Mario Gotze, Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller leading a lethal team that is superior to Northern Ireland in all departments. Back them to Win on the Half-time/Full-time Double at 6/10.

Written by Chad Nagel for @Hollywoodbets.

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