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Italy's second team may still win

Italy v Republic of Ireland
Wednesday June 22, 20:00
Live on ITV

With Italy breezing through to the next round already, it's all about jockeying for position in Group E. Italy are certain of first place because of their head-to-head record against Belgium, so will rotate the squad completely.

That explains the 2.50 around about Italy winning the game. That seems a massive price given the relative abilities of both sides, and will be one worth taking, but only once the team news is out.

Even if Antonio Conte does change the entire starting XI, Italy's second team may still win. If the Azzurri drift in the Match Odds market on the back of team changes, get on.

Italy were less impressive against Sweden than they had been with Belgium, but they did enough to land us a couple of bets, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a slightly more liberated performance here.

Conte has always been capable of switching from a tight, throttling set up to an open one (his Juve were only OCCASIONALLY dull to watch) and I wouldn't be surprised to see a counter attacking masterclass here.

The Republic of Ireland were steamrollered by Belgium, with the life of their challenge seemingly fading the moment that Sweden equalised in their opening game. They must win this one, will have to try and get at Italy, and the longer it doesn't work, the more risks they'll take.

That plays into Italy's hands, and in the absence of Claudio Marchisio, I feel that Marco Parolo could have a key role. Parolo is a really good penalty area finisher in the style of a young David Platt, and he came close against Sweden.

He's worth a bet to finish off one of Italy's counter attacks, assuming he plays, but Antonio Candreva is injured. Watch out for team news before placing the bet as Parolo may be rested.

In a tournament light on goals, the price for Over 2.5 goals is inevitably inflated, and with the likelihood of a more open approach by the Irish, the Overs are too big here at 2.56

I stated in my Group E Preview that I felt Ireland could be good enough to qualify and even finish second in the Group, while Italy would struggle. I was wrong.

My bet on Italy's Tournament Goals finishing Under 5.5 is still running, but three goals and I'm done. They may even arrive at that total here against an Irish side who started the tournament so well but haven't quite had the required quality so far. Gallant, but falling short. As a Welsh rugby fan, I sympathise.

Italy will march on, and as the tournament moves on, they're looking more and more like the team that everyone wants to avoid.

Recommended Bet

Over 2.5 Goals in Italy v Republic of Ireland @ 2.56
Marco Parolo to score @ 5.80
Italy to win (depending on team news) @ 2.50

Iceland v Austria: Back the viking spirit to deny unworthy favourites

Iceland v Austria 
Wednesday, 17:00
Live on BBCi

They've never made a big tournament before and because they don't know when the next one will be, they're making the most of this one. 
In many ways they're the team at this Euros who most resemble the infamous Greece team of 2004. 

You know when you've been in a game with this lot and in their match against Hungary they showed they're not afraid to resort to a few underhand tricks, conceding 15 fouls and seeing three players booked. 
For all the positives about them though, you have to worry about whether they have in them to chase a game if they go behind, even though they did so against Portugal. So it's a good thing for them they may not have to. If Portugal lose or draw 0-0, they just need to draw to finish second.


Despite all of the disappointment of having just the one point from two games and not having scored a goal, at least they're in a position where their destiny is pretty much in their own hands. If they win and Portugal don't, they'll finish second. If they win and Portugal win, they'll almost certainly finish third and with a decent chance of going through. 
They obviously can't control what happens in the Portugal match but if they'd been offered the chance to make the last 16 on the proviso they beat Iceland before the tournament started, they would have taken it.
All that said, they don't really look like scoring and Iceland don't look like conceding too many. But maybe now that they need a win, we'll see them adopt a different approach. As ever, it's anyone's guess whichMarko Arnautovic we'll see on the night but he remains their best chance of creating or scoring a goal. 

Match Odds 

I'm not sure what it is about this group but I don't agree with how any of the matches have been priced up. I thought Iceland and Portugal were too short against Hungary, and that at 2.16, Austria are far too short in this one. 
Iceland were just as impressive as Austria in qualifying and have gone on to play well above what we expected in their first two matches. Austria have seriously under-performed so far. This should be a lot closer in the betting than it is, especially when we add fitness and team spirit into the equation, two qualities Iceland have in abundance. Austria are a big lay.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

At least those pricing up the markets have got this one right - 1.65 on Unders, with Overs trading at a far bigger 2.50. We expect a war of attrition and we're likely to get one - never the sign of a high-scoring match. Add to that that not a single match in this Group has broken the 2.5 goals barrier and it's a case of 'enough said'.

Sweden v Belgium: Back Red Devils to run riot against overrated Swedes

sweden v Belgium
Wednesday June 22, 20:00
Live on ITV4

After stinking the place out against Italy, Belgium turned on the style against the Republic of Ireland, and while some of you may still not trust them, I'm puzzled to see them as big as 1.86 to beat a poor Swedish side. Sweden seem to be overrated in every market in which they're placed, due to the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. 
That makes our betting approach pretty simple here. I think that there'll be goals in this game, but having tipped this to be Group E's top scoring match in my Group Preview at 5.00, there's no real need to get involved again. 
Italy may run riot against Ireland, but then Belgium may do something similar here. In terms of the Group betting portfolio, we're covered. 
They're can't be any big question about Belgian motivation for this. They'll want to finish strongly, even if they cannot now win the group, and certainly won't want to leave themselves vulnerable to a Swedish victory for second place. Belgium will do the job at a backable price. 
I certainly wouldn't put you off backing Over 2.5 Goals at 2.20, or even extending that to 3.5, andonce again the corners market is interesting. Belgium and the Republic of Ireland fell short by one corner, but aside from that, all of the matches in this Group have had at least 10 corners so far, and that outcome is by some distance the likeliest again, in what should be a lively game. 
Team news will be important here from a Belgian point of view, but I expect three of their back four at least to stay the same, and I'm going to stay with the theme of Sweden's defending of set pieces. 
It didn't work out for us in the Italy game, but having gone for the Juve duo in that match, I'll let the Spurs pair carry my money in this one. Toby Aldeweireld has scored only one international goal, but grabbed four for Tottenham last season, while Jan Vertonghen has six for Belgium and didn't score for Spurs in the last campaign. On balance, though, both are worth backing as anytime scorers here.
The other price that interests me is Belgium to win Euro 2016 at 15.00 - as I said before the tournament, I thought that they would drift, and now we have evidence to support the belief that this is a high class side that could win the thing. Now is the time to back them. 

Recommended Bets 
Back Belgium to win @ 1.86

Slovakia v England: England will do enough to qualify

Slovakia v England
Monday June 20, 20:00 BST
Live on ITV 1

In my pre-tournament preview I nominated Slovakia as possible outsiders to go quite deep and I have seen nothing to overly deter me from that line of thinking.
Obviously they were beaten by Wales in their opener but they played quite well on reflection and were unlucky not to take at least a point from that game.
Ján Kozák's side then showed great resolve by beating Russia on Wednesday in a match that saw them lead 2-0 at half time. The Russians ensured a nervy final 10 minutes as they pulled one back, but the Slovaks held firm and they are now in a great position to make it through to the knockout phase.
Napoli's Marek Hamsik is their key man as he proved again against Russia with a goal and an assist. He sits just behind the lone striker and Eric Dier will have to be at the top of his game to contain him.


With 45 minutes gone in Lens on Thursday things were looking bleak for England. Jeered off by their own fans, Roy Hodgson made the brave decision to take off Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling, and replace them with Daniel Sturridge and Jamie Vardy.
As far as double substitutions go, it was one of the best. The Three Lions roared back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 thanks to a goal apiece from Sturridge and Vardy. One of them looks certain to start in Saint-Etienne, but I doubt he will play both from the off - with the Leicester man appearing to be the favourite to remain on the bench.
Joe Hart's position shouldn't be under threat despite his blunder for Bale's goal and the Man City keeper has proven before that he can put serious errors behind him and play brilliantly in the next game.
Topping the group would be advantageous as it would mean facing a team who finished third in one of the other groups, and only a victory here would guarantee that. A draw would seal qualification, but would only be enough for top spot if Wales fail to beat Russia.

Match Odds
Slovakia 6.20 England 1.79 The Draw 3.55

It's Slovakia who stand-out to me in this market as I have them down as better than Wales and the Welsh were a point bigger for their game against England.
That being said, Hodgson's side have impressed me as well during this tournament and I find it difficult to see them being beaten - especially when a draw puts them through to the next round.
If I were forced to bet though, I would invest in the Slovaks with a view to cash out pretty quickly if they get ahead.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals 2.44 Under 2.5 Goals 1.68

The goals haven't exactly been flowing in this tournament to date as only seven of the 24 matches played in the first two rounds of fixtures have ended with the ball in the net on three occasions or more.
That is a percentage of around 29% but if we concentrate solely on Group B, that shoots up to 50%. It's also worth noting that the two that missed out only did so by a single goal and there is yet to be a clean sheet in any of the four games played.
I also have a feeling that this final set of group matches will be more open as it's do or die time for some of the teams involved and there is no point exiting on a whimper.
The two sides involved here are much better going forward than they are in defence and I can definitely see plenty of chances at both ends. The over is a very generous price at around the 2.44 mark and it looks like the stand-out bet for this particular game.

Correct Score

A draw wouldn't overly surprise me as it could end up suiting both nations and, as I think we'll see some goals, a correct score of 2-2 is huge odds at 26.00.
A point would see England qualify and most likely Slovakia as well - even if it leaves them in third place. Clearly a 2-2 outcome is far from nailed on, but it's definitely not a one in 26 chance, which makes the price on offer decent value.

Recommended Bets

Back Over 2.5 goals @ 2.44
Back a 2-2 Correct Score @ 26.00

Russia vs Wales : a miserable tournament for the Russians

Russia v Wales
Monday June 20, 20:00 BST
Live on ITV 4


It's been a miserable tournament for the Russians on all fronts thus far as their fans have disgraced them off the field and the players haven't done much better on it.
They were thoroughly outplayed by England in their opener but somehow scraped a point, however they weren't so lucky next time against Slovakia as they were beaten 2-1.
The pressure is now on Leonid Slutsky and while he can rightly point to some key injuries, there's no hiding from their abject displays thus far. Nevertheless, a win here would probably see them through to the last 16, but it will take a huge improvement from the attacking players who have all looked poor.


When Gareth Bale's free kick hit the net in Lens on Thursday it seemed that the Welsh were on the verge of securing qualification to the knockout phase of the tournament.
A second-half comeback from England has left things in the balance though and only a win over Russia would guarantee safe passage. In reality a draw would probably be enough to see them through - possibly even as runners-up - so don't expect a gung-ho attitude to try and secure the three points.
Chris Coleman's men have always been better at defending than they have attacking anyway and that is highlighted by the fact that they conceded just four goals in qualifying.
They are yet to keep a clean sheet in the finals themselves, but they now face their weakest opponents on current form.

Match Odds
Russia 2.72 Wales 3.00 The Draw 3.30

This is a pretty tight market with the Russians being put in as the marginal favourites. That must be on reputation alone though as they have been one of the worst sides in the entire 24 team tournament and they don't look capable of beating anybody at the moment.
I wouldn't want to be investing heavily in the Welsh either though as if Gareth Bale doesn't score, it's difficult to see anybody else troubling Igor Akinfeev too much.
The Welsh have enough defensive qualities to contain the misfiring Russia team and with a point almost certainly seeing them into the last 16, I think the value is on the draw.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Over 2.5 Goals 2.54 Under 2.5 Goals 1.64

There is no doubt in my mind that under 2.5 goals is the most likely outcome here but I wouldn't be interested in investing heavily at such a short price.
Under 1.5 is available to back at a more generous 2.88 but the draw is half a point bigger than that and the second selection I like is almost double figures...

Correct Score

There have only been two 0-0s in the tournament to date but I think that this could be the third. Russia have shown little going forward and Wales have a very organised defence.
Chris Coleman will be monitoring the score in the England game and if Hodgson's team are winning, don't expect Wales to push forward when a point would secure second place.

Recommended Bets
Back The Draw @ 3.30
Back a 0-0 Correct Score @ 9.00

Switzerland v France : France make it three wins from three

Copa America : In-form Mexico meet champions Chile, Venezuela to frustrate Argentina

Defending champions Chile suffered an opening group game defeat to Argentina but have clawed their way to the quarter-finals and now tackle in-form Mexico, who are so far unbeaten and boast a four-game advantage in previous fixture head-to-heads. 
Juan Carlos Osorio’s Aztecs enter at 6/4 to triumph, while La Roja are 33/20 to prevail and edge closer to retaining their crown, with a stalemate after 90 minutes being 15/8 to occur.

Javier Hernandez struck in the win over Jamaica and has looked sharp throughout the tournament, with the former Manchester United hitman set to provide a genuine threat to Chile, while Hector Herrera and Oribe Peralta have also been impressive.
For the Chileans, Alexis Sanchez will hope to add to double over Panama, including an absolute thunderbolt strike, while Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal, who also dispatched twice against Bolivia, could help hurt Mexico.

Mexico v Chile
Sunday 03:00 BST
Live on Premier Sports
Mexico have scored and conceded in 2/3 at the 2016 Copa America, only shutting out Jamaica.
Across all competitions Chile are now 10 games without a clean sheet. They scored and conceded in all three of the group games that got them to this stage. Although Copa America quarter-finals have erred on the side of boring at recent tournaments, these two have the form and talent to deliver something a bit more spectacular. If the coaches stay true to themselves and the players are not overawed, this will be a match worth staying up for. 

Argentina v Venezuela
Sunday 00:00 BST
Live on Premier Sports
In the event of a draw, there's no extra time at the Copa America. It's straight to penalties. For a big underdog like Venezuela, that's just the encouragement they need to play for the draw and give themselves half a chance of an upset in the penalty shootout.

Star man Messi has been unstoppable at times in this campaign and fired in an incredible nine-minute hat-trick against Panama after coming off the bench, while Manchester City frontman Sergio Aguero also got in on the act and could do so again here.
Meanwhile, Venezuela’s attacking danger is likely to be West Bromwich Albion striker Salomon Rondon, who fired in the winner over Uruguay, with fellow forward and Torino marksman Josef Martinez could threaten too after his decisive effort past Jamaica.

The Creoles have conceded just once in three tournament appearances so far and, with Copa America quarter-finals tending to be low scorers (7/10 since 2011), we like the big price on them restricting the tournament favourites - and indeed the match - to Under 2.5 Goals.

Recommended Bets
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.28 in Argentina v Venezuela
Back Both Teams to Score @ 2.00 in Mexico v Chile

Portugal v Austria : both team will score

Portugal v Austria
Saturday, 20:00
Live on BBC1


Negatives: the result. The fact they only scored one goal from 26 shots. Guilty of a lapse in concentration to concede Iceland's goal. The absence of a Plan B when they had 40 minutes to get a winning goal. Positives: for the most part they looked organised and well-drilled. The fact they created so many chances to start with. The fact that there's no need to panic, a draw is a draw and Austria's loss means that topping the group is very much still a possibility.
Having been injured for most of the season, it's hardly surprising Joao Moutinho didn't look fully fit. He could be replaced by one of the two young guns- William Carvalho or Renato Sanches, who looked lively in a 20-minute cameo. Fernando Santos could do worse than try to find a place in the starting XI for the mercurial Ricardo Quaresma, possibly at the expense of Joao Mario. 
Cristiano Ronaldo needs to let his feet do the talking rather than his lips. His comments at the end of the Iceland match stank of sour grapes and he'd be better advised to comment on his own performance rather than Iceland's.
On another day they could have been 1-0 up within the first minute. On Tuesday they lost 2-0, had Aleksandar Dragovic sent off and are now up against it. They also saw Zlatko Januzovic limp off injured and if he were to miss this match, they'd be deprived of one of their chief creator of goals. 
The fact they conceded shouldn't have come as a surprise to stats-lovers because as Opta tell us, they've now gone 13 matches without a clean sheet at major tournaments. 
The bigger worry is that if and when Portugal do score, they have a goal of their own in them. They could do with giving David Alaba, the man who almost scored so early, more freedom to roam forward.

Match Odds

One of those where you could make a case for any of the three outcomes. At 5.40 Austria are arguably the value on the back of an impressive qualifying campaign; the fact they had one bad match doesn't make them a bad team. The draw at 3.75 is a lively runner for two relatively evenly matched teams who wouldn't see a point as disastrous. You could also make a case for 1.81 Portugal on the basis they're technically the better side, have Ronaldo and were guilty of not finishing off the game against Iceland rather than playing a poor game. But with so much uncertainty, the obvious play is to leave this market alone.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals/Both Teams to score

Results over the past year or so point to Portugal being an 'unders' side with plenty of 1-0 wins in qualifying. Had Iceland's goal not come when it did, they would probably have been more than content to let their first match end that way rather than going in search of a second. 
But Austria looked vulnerable on the break against Hungary and as discussed already, find it extremely hard not to concede at major tournaments. 
A better alternative is that both teams will score. 1-1 ranks as one of the likelier outcomes given everything we've said already whereas an early goal for either side would obviously open up the game. Interestingly, Portugal have a recent habit of producing a somewhat crazy game in the second match of a tournament (2-2 against the USA in 2014, 3-2 against Denmark in 2012) but even without that quirky trend, this looks a solid bet with two defences we can't really trust.

Recommended Bets

Back both teams to score @ 2.14
Back Nani to score anytime @ 4.00