SOCCER

European Championship Betting Guide: Friday 7/2/21

The quarterfinals of Euro 2020 begin Friday with a pair of matches. Should you back Spain to continue their free-scoring ways against the Swiss, and can Belgium overcome their injury woes against Italy?

As the road to Wembley moves to the quarterfinal stage, eight teams remain in the quest for Euro 2020 glory, with a handful of favorites and upstarts still in the mix to claim the title on July 11.

For more insight on what to expect in the round’s opening two matches on Friday, read on, and be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for updated odds on these contests and all other props involving Euro 2020.

Switzerland vs. Spain

Saint Petersburg Stadium | Saint Petersburg, Russia | 12pm ET
The Pick: Spain -160

Euro 2020’s quarterfinal round begins with one of the tournament’s hottest teams taking on perhaps the biggest surprise participant of this stage.

Twice champions of Europe this millennium, Spain were in a Covid-enforced state of disarray at the start of the month, but after posting back-to-back five-goal performances over Slovakia and Croatia in their last two matches, La Roja have found their finishing touch again, and they’re now tipped at +300 as the second-most likely side to win the whole tournament.


Their opponents, meanwhile, were widely expected to be watching the quarterfinals from home after being drawn against 2018 World Cup winners France in the Round of 16, but despite being 6-to-1 underdogs, Switzerland found a way past the tournament favorites in penalties after Monday’s thrilling 3-3 match in Bucharest.

The odds aren't quite as steep for the Swiss this time, but there’s a reason Vladimir Petković’s side isn’t expected to pull a surprise for a second round in a row. Even though the Alpine nation is currently No. 9 among European teams in the latest FIFA world rankings, the numbers would suggest they’ve overachieved this summer, as they’ve conceded eight times -- joint-most in the tournament -- while allowing the fourth-most shots of any side.

Plus, the only other time the Swiss played a possession-based team this summer, they were completely outclassed by Italy 3-0 on Matchday 2.

Conversely, the analytics love the Spanish. With 11 goals to the good, Luis Enrique’s charges are the highest-scoring team at these Euros and also lead the tournament in possession (67.6%), time in the opposition third (36%), and fewest shots allowed per game (6).

There may still be questions about the Iberians’ competency in front of goal at times -- and they did look shambolic at the back over the final 10 minutes of regulation against Croatia -- but they’ve lost just once in the last three years and should be brimming with confidence entering this fixture.


Of course, it stands to reason that if the Swiss can beat a loaded French team, surely they can defeat anyone, but they’ll have to pull off this upset without suspended captain Granit Xhaka in their midfield. Plus, they’ve beaten Spain only once -- just once -- in 22 all-time meetings (1-16-5).

Add in the fact this trip to St. Petersburg will put the Swiss squad over 17,000 airline miles in the last three weeks -- by far the most of any team left in the field -- and the Spanish seem the logical choice to progress.

Belgium vs. Italy

Football Arena Munich | Munich, Germany | 3pm ET
The Pick: Belgium +240 or Draw +200

It’s a match that should be one of the best of the tournament -- in theory.

After all, Belgium are the top-ranked team in the world, while Italy haven’t lost any of their last 31 matches and have arguably been the most impressive side at these Euros thus far.


Their paths to this juncture have been similar, as both sides have gotten here on the strength of solid -- albeit aging -- backlines that have allowed just one goal apiece with clinical attacks each averaging two or more goals per game.

Both posted narrow one-goal wins in the Round of 16, as well, with the Azzurri sweating out a 2-1 margin in extra time over Austria on Saturday and Belgium eliminating defending champions Portugal 1-0 on Sunday.

The teams are evenly matched, and the game is set for a neutral venue, but Italy are still considered the favorites here in large part because of what’s likely to be missing from Belgium's ranks.

Injuries forced Belgian stars Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard to be substituted during their last match, and with neither in line to play on Friday, confidence of an outright victory for the Red Devils has taken a hit.

Now, Roberto Martinez’s team didn’t have either midfielder in their tournament-opening thrashing of Russia on Matchday 1, but there’s a large gulf in class between what Belgium was up against in St. Petersburg on June 13, and what they’ll face in Munich on July 2.

Note also that despite their surplus of goals scored, Belgium hadn’t been creating many opportunities even with De Bruyne and Hazard in the lineup, as their 9.5 shots per game rank 19th in the tournament. On top of that, they’ve allowed nearly three times as many shots on goal as their Italian counterparts, who have given up a tournament-low five on frame at these Euros.

Consider also that Belgium have never beaten Italy in a competitive match -- they fell meekly to the Azzurri 2-0 in the 2016 Euro group stage in their last time of asking – and another W for Roberto Mancini’s men seems inevitable.

And yet…

Even without De Bruyne and Hazard, Belgium can still count on Romelu Lukaku -- who's scored three times this tournament -- to give them a chance in the attacking third. If the Austrians can hold out for 90 minutes against the Italians, surely the Belgians can.

Then there's this: not much has gone to form at these Euros since the group stage, has it?

Half of the matches in the Round of 16 were pushed to extra time, while three of the heavy favorites -- France, Holland, and Sweden -- were eliminated by less glamorous opposition.

Knowing that surprises are becoming the norm -- and given that Belgium have been counted out by most -- this match feels destined for extra time at the least, and with the value on Belgians or the draw, that’s the direction to lean.