European Championship Betting Guide: Wednesday 6/16/21
With the opening 12 matches now in the books and all 24 teams with a game under their belt, Euro 2020 is ready to turn the page to Matchday 2.
Among the initial squads to get a second run-out in this tournament, Italy and Finland will look to continue to impress, Wales and Switzerland will try to build on positive results, while Russia and Turkey will hope to bounce back from disappointing starts.
So how will Wednesday play out? Read on for the backstories behind the matches, and be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for the big picture of Euro 2020 odds and more.
Finland vs. Russia
Saint Petersburg Stadium | St. Petersburg, Russia | 9pm ET
The Pick: Draw +260
At first glance, this line feels out of whack, doesn’t it?
After all, Finland beat Denmark 1-0 on the road on Matchday 1, while Russia were manhandled 3-0 at home to Belgium -- and yet the Russians are favored?
When you look at the whole picture, however, it makes more sense.
Yes, Markku Kanerva's Fins have a priceless win under their belt -- being major tournament debutantes, it’s their first Euro victory in team history -- but they were outshot 22-1 against the Danes, ceded 63% of the possession, and needed five saves and a penalty stop from goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to preserve the W.
One shot. One goal.#DEN #FIN #Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/dFCRn5S7c2
— The Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) June 12, 2021
It also bears mentioning that Danish star Christian Eriksen went into cardiac arrest late in the first of that match. Play was suspended for nearly two hours, and both teams were understandably shaken upon the game’s emotional resumption, making it difficult to draw many concrete conclusions for either side.
The feel-good success story of Teemu Pukki and company is in large part what makes these expanded tournaments fun, but let’s not get carried away: the Fins are still the second-lowest ranked team in the tournament -- 54th overall in the latest FIFA ranks. Plus, they had gone winless in their previous six matches before Saturday, and in four previous encounters with Russia, they were defeated by a combined score of 15-1.
Meanwhile, Stanislav Cherchesov’s squad were poor against Group B favorites Belgium -- their total expected goals (xG) was a paltry 0.34 against the Red Devils -- but they did spend more time in the opposition third of the pitch (25%) than their own (22%) against a team that’s +600 to lift the trophy on July 11.
That’s not much of a silver lining…but it’s something.
In qualifying, Russia beat up on mediocre opposition -- they went 8-0 against the four sides who finished below them in their group, winning those matches by an aggregate score of 31-1 -- and while Finland falls into that category rankings-wise, they’ve proven to be tougher to break down than that likes of Cyprus, Kazakhstan, and San Marino.
There’s also geography to consider: St. Petersburg is just over 100 miles from the Finnish border and is a four-hour train ride away from Helsinki, meaning this crowd might be more balanced than the ones the Russian National Team was buoyed by on their way to the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals on home soil.
Truly, it’s a match that could go either way, as Russia will likely dominate possession and offer more in attack, while Finland will defend and try to hit on the counter.
If we’re honest, it’s hard to envision the Fins taking six points from their first two matches, but if they defend like they did against the Danes, a draw is certainly in play here.
Turkey vs. Wales
Baku Olympic Stadium | Baku, Azerbaijan | 12pm ET
The Pick: Draw +200 or Wales +220
To put it mildly, this tournament did not start well for Turkey.
Failing to get a result against a strong Italian team in Rome may not have been surprising, but the manner of defeat was. The normally-stingy Turks -- who had allowed three goals total in their 10 Euro qualifying matches -- shipped three in the second half alone en route to a humbling 3-0 defeat, their first in 2021.
Meanwhile, Wales didn’t exactly impress in their opener against Switzerland, but a second-half Kieffer Moore header and a late offside decision that went in their favor helped Rob Page’s Dragons earn a 1-1 draw.
That point could go a long way toward Welsh dreams of advancing to the knockout stages for a second consecutive Euros -- they were surprise semifinalists in 2016 -- but success against a Turkish team they’ve not faced in 24 years is required, especially with Italy looming on Matchday 3.
Both sides had less than 40% possession in their opening match, and both spent relatively little time in the opposition third -- 23% for Wales and a miniscule 15% for Turkey -- so it’ll be interesting how these sides will adjust against like opposition.
In an even contest such as this, recent form suggests that Wales might have the edge -- in 14 matches since last September, they’ve lost just three times, and those defeats came to three of FIFA’s top four-ranked teams in Belgium, France, and England.
Meanwhile, even though Turkey had an impressive World Cup qualifying win over the Dutch in March, their other five matches this year were against teams with an average FIFA rank of 108 -- and they won only three of the five.
It’s certainly possibly Şenol Güneş gets a better tune out of his group on Wednesday, and with Baku just north of the Turkish border, they’ll be aided by a partisan crowd. But they were too disappointing in the opener to back them as a favorite here.
Lean toward Gareth Bale’s Welsh, or just take the draw.
Italy vs. Switzerland
Stadio Olimpico | Rome, Italy | 3pm ET
The Pick: Italy -180
On the strength of a 27-match unbeaten run, Roberto Mancini’s Italians entered Euro 2020 as a trendy pick to contend for the title, and they’ve only strengthened that opinion after an impressive 3-0 win over Turkey in the competition’s curtain raiser on June 11.
Just how dominant were the four-time World Cup champions last Friday? They spent 41% of the match in the Turk’s third of the field and posted tournament-highs in shots (24) and shots on goal (8) while not allowing a single attempt on their own frame.
Traditionally rugged in defense, the Azzurri have now kept nine consecutive clean sheets, and they’ve fine-tuned an attack that scored almost four goals a game in a qualifying campaign that saw them go 10-0-0.
9 - Italy have kept nine consecutive clean sheets, their longest run since keeping 10 in a row between November 1989 and June 1990. Formidable. #EURO2020 #TURITA pic.twitter.com/UvzsaJrQH0
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 11, 2021
Of course, Switzerland aren’t a pushover -- according to FIFA, they’re No. 13 in the world -- and they boast a decent eight-match unbeaten run of their own. Yet when Vladimir Petković’s side have come up against elite opposition, they’ve struggled, going 0-3-2 in the last three years against teams ranked ahead of them.
FYI: Italy are currently World No. 7.
Add in the fact that the Swiss have had one fewer day of rest than the Italians and needed to make the nine-hour flight from Baku to Rome, and this one becomes even more straightforward.