The Round of 16 is in full swing at the Euros, as Denmark, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Belgium have all punched their tickets to the quarterfinal round. Belgium’s victory over Portugal ensures we’ll have a new champion of Europe, and there’s a pretty distinct possibility the new champion will be playing Monday afternoon.
Two of the strongest sides in the tournament – Spain and France – are heavy favorites (-175 and -165, respectively) in their first knockout round match, but there isn’t much value left on the surface as such heavy favorites. Not to worry, however, as I’ve found a few bets I still like in each of the two matches, so without any further delay, here are my best bets for day three of the Round of 16 at Euro 2020.
Croatia vs. Spain: Euro 2020 Odds & Game Pick >>
Croatia vs. Spain
The Croatians enter this match as the second-heaviest underdog in the Round of 16 at +550. On paper, they’re pretty heavily overmatched by Spain; luckily for Croatia, games aren’t played on paper, but on the unlucky side, they’ll be without one of their top players in Ivan Perisic, which will prove to be a monumental omission from the lineup.
Perisic is the top goal scorer for the Croatians, he’s the only forward to start every group stage match, and he’s played in over 100 games for his country. Still, a positive COVID-19 test will keep him out of one of the most important games in recent memory for Croatia. This team enters the knockout stage with the worst expected goal differential (-2.44) of any team that managed to advance from the group stage. Now, enter Spain, which could cause serious problems for an undermanned squad.
Spain is in the complete opposite mindset as Croatia. They racked up five goals and a clean sheet in their final match against Slovakia, but those five goals made up 83.3% of the goals they scored in the group stage. It seems underwhelming to the naked eye, but taking a deeper look proves that Spain has been humming all tournament long. They just weren’t able to finish. Against Slovakia, the levy finally broke, and I think that’ll translate over to this game against Croatia.
In the group stage, Spain controlled possession for an incredible 68.7% of the time, over 7% better than any other team. Croatia, on the other hand, kept control of the ball just 54.0% of the time. While that’s still a positive mark, it’s not in the top half of the sixteen teams who advanced to the bracket rounds and won’t be good enough if the Croatians want any chance at keeping this game within striking distance.
Croatia actually topped Spain the last time these two teams played in 2018, so if Spain needs any added motivation, they’ll have revenge on their mind on top of having a legitimate shot to win the entire tournament. I expect Croatia to come out with a ton of adrenaline after their 3-1 victory over Scotland, and the first half should be tightly contested. However, Spain will pull away in the second half; Croatia’s lack of offense – especially without Ivan Perisic – will hamper them from mounting a comeback. Missing Perisic is a much bigger deal than most are making it out to be, and it’ll be noticeable as this game wears on.
Despite over 2.5 goals sitting at plus money, I don’t trust that Croatia will score in this one, and I would rather not rely on one team to tally three goals on their own. Instead, I’ll turn to the spread and take Spain -1 at +105. Worst case scenario here is a push, and while not the ideal outcome, it’s something we can live with. Spain is fully capable of winning this game 2-0; they’ll be in top form after taking their last match by a score of 5-0.
The Pick: Spain -1 (+105)
France vs. Switzerland
Like the game before it, the France vs. Switzerland matchup seems to be a bit of a lopsided one. Switzerland is tied with Croatia as the second-heaviest underdogs in the Round of 16, as they’ll battle a French side that entered Euro 2020 as the betting favorite. It’s the most unfortunate possible matchup for the Swiss and one I think they’ll have a hard time dealing with.
Switzerland earned just 4.22 expected goals in the group stage – the fourth-lowest mark of any team who advanced to the knockout round. On the other hand, France is a balloon of frustration waiting to pop to the tune of a multi-goal output. They were dealt into the so-called “Group of Death” – along with Hungary, Germany, and Portugal – and the stiff competition made the French look relatively mortal. France struggled at times in every single matchup and only managed to beat the Germans while drawing with Hungary and Portugal. However, I think the heightened level of skill they played against will have prepared them well for the knockout round.
Perhaps France’s top-scoring thread, Kylian Mbappe, has yet to find the back of the net, something I think changes very early in this matchup with Switzerland. They’ve got nobody to keep Mbappe in check, and France can put the pressure on right from the outset by trusting both Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante to hold the fort in front of their goalkeeper. I expect plenty of lopsided counter-attacks and corner kicks right from the first whistle for France in this one, and if they take a first-half lead, look for them to put the pedal to the metal and open up a multiple-goal lead instead of sitting back counting the seconds until the final horn.
The only team Switzerland has battled thus far that’s been a close comparison in terms of raw skill to France was Italy, and the Italians dismantled them 3-0. It’s a bit aggressive to predict another three-goal defeat, but I am willing to place the same wager on France as I did on Spain: -1. We’re getting a bit better odds on the host country (+115) than we did with Spain, so there’s a bit of value there as well. I also like France to win to nil or to win the game and keep a clean sheet (+145). I don’t see the Swiss being able to sustain enough pressure against the French or have much control of the ball. It’ll be tough to win many tackles from a side in France, completing 89% of its pass attempts.
The Picks: France -1 (+115); France To Win To Nil (+145)
France vs. Switzerland: Euro 2020 Odds & Game Pick >>
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