SOCCER

European Championship Betting Guide: The Semifinals

Euro 2020’s ultimate prize is within reach for a quartet of teams who have rightfully earned their place in the final four at one of the world’s greatest sporting competitions.

In a tournament that’s seen 10 different nations take their turn as host this past month, this week’s semifinals and Sunday’s final will all be held in London.

Will that home-field advantage mean the favored English will claim the crown? Or will one of Italy, Spain, or Denmark ruin football’s long-awaited homecoming?


Read on for the details on a pair of perfectly poised semifinal contests, and be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for additional odds on Euro 2020 and more.

Italy vs. Spain

Wembley Stadium | London, England | Tuesday, 3pm ET
The Pick: Italy +135

Let’s be honest: the first semifinal of Euro 2020 has everything you could ask for in a major tournament knockout match.

From a prestige standpoint, it doesn’t get much better on the international scene than Italy and Spain. The pair have won five World Cups and four European Championships between them, with the Italians last claiming glory at the 2006 World Cup, two years before the Spanish began a run of three consecutive major trophies with a triumph in Euro 2008.

Coincidentally, La Roja ended that treble in style at Euro 2012 with a 4-0 dismantling of Italy in the final, the second of four consecutive meetings between the two nations in the knockout stages of Europe’s greatest soccer competition.


But while Spain sent the Azzurri home in the 2008 quarterfinals in Vienna and again four years later in Kiev, Italy got the better of the Iberians in the round of 16 in 2016, a 2-0 win that still resonates among the two sides five years later.

Five starters from that contest in Paris are expected to play from the opening whistle on Tuesday: Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci for Italy, and Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Alvaro Morata for Spain, with the former four having started the 2012 final, as well.

But it’s not only the links to the past that make this matchup so intriguing -- it’s the way these two sides have played at this tournament.

Both Roberto Mancini and Luis Enrique -- two former internationals for the national teams they’re currently in charge of -- have been open in their desire to play attacking, entertaining football, and each have delivered the goods. Through five matches, Spain and Italy are the two highest-scoring teams in tournament, and they rank 1-2 in total shot attempts, total registered attacks, and time spent in the opposing third.

They’ve each been solid defensively, as well. Italy have conceded only twice -- once in extra time to Austria in the Round of 16, and the other on a Romelu Lukaku penalty in the quarterfinals -- and though Spain have been marginally more suspect in defense with an average of one goal allowed per game, their dominance on the ball has meant they’ve given up the second-fewest shot attempts per contest.

So, yes, between a shared history of success, the recent head-to-head encounters, and the general excellence of both sides, Tuesday’s match at Wembley should make for a fantastic advertisement for the beautiful game -- though the final score might not be as close as the numbers would suggest.

You see, for all the statistical edges the Spanish have going for them -- they’re unrivaled in possession, they’ve scored 11 goals in their last three games, etc. -- every match they’ve played at this tournament outside of the 5-0 win over a poor Slovakian team has left something to be desired.

In the quarterfinals, Spain couldn’t find a winner against a Swiss team that were down a man from the 77th minute on and barely survived the ensuing penalty shootout. They squandered a two-goal lead in the Round of 16 against Croatia before rallying in extra time, and they struggled mightily to put away chances in draws against Poland and Sweden in the group stage.

On the flip side, Italy have been in top gear since they kicked off the tournament way back on June 11, roundly dispatching Turkey and Switzerland 3-0 before rotating the squad in a 1-0 win over Wales to close out a perfect group stage.

And while they struggled against an average Austrian side in the opening knockout round, Mancini’s Italians professionally eliminated world No. 1 Belgium in the quarterfinals, showing class in attack and the typical Azzurri steel in defense.


With a 32-match unbeaten streak in tow, Italy have been deserved favorites every time they’ve taken the pitch at these Euros, but they’re not playing like a team burdened with expectations -- they’re playing with joy, the same emotion they elicit when you watch them.

Meanwhile, La Roja hasn’t given us those feels for almost a decade, and they’re not quite as good nor as in-form as the team they’re facing Tuesday.

Even if the Achilles injury to electric left back Leonardo Spinazzola is a blow, we can feel confident backing the favorites to emerge victorious from this epic contest, and get ready to enjoy hearing “Il Canto degli Italiani” one more time this summer.

England vs. Denmark

Wembley Stadium | London, England | Wednesday, 3pm ET
The Pick: Draw +250 or Denmark +450

The second semifinal features a pair of national teams peaking at the right time and -- perhaps -- both on a collision course with destiny.

In the 55 long years since the England Men’s National Team last raised a trophy, the Three Lions have often been accompanied by hype and hope, but they’ve not really come close to repeating the magic of the 1966 World Cup. In the 26 major tournaments since that memorable triumph on home soil, they’ve reached the semifinals only three times and have never made it past that penultimate hurdle.

Yet history aside, this England team -- with its blend of youth, experience, star power, and depth, not to mention the tactical acumen to make it work -- has checked all the boxes required for a legitimate title challenge.


Gareth Southgate’s team has yet to be scored on and has continued to improve with each match, highlighted by a 4-0 drubbing of Ukraine in the quarterfinals, and so the question needs to be asked -- could football really be coming home?

Standing in England’s way, however, is an opponent set to pose the sternest test the Three Lions have faced in this tournament.

Denmark were fancied prior to the Euros as a potential contender for great things, but after accruing zero points in their first two games following Christian Eriksen’s on-field cardiac arrest on Matchday 1, simple progression to the knockout stages looked bleak.


Yet since Matchday 3, the strong form the Danes displayed in those defeats to Finland and Belgium has produced result after impressive result, moving Kasper Hjulmand’s team within one win of their first final since their stunning Euro ’92 championship.

Unlike England -- which has relied on a stout defense and just enough attacking spark to advance -- Denmark has been an offensive force this summer, averaging more than two goals per game and ranking just behind Spain and Italy in shots per game, registered attacks, and time spent in the opposition third.

The Danes haven’t been as impenetrable at the back as the English have been -- they’ve kept just one clean sheet in this tournament -- but they’ve actually allowed fewer shots per game than the Three Lions this summer and are averaging the second-most aerials won of any side, nearly six more than their opposition on Wednesday.

Recent history would suggest this contest will be tight, as the last four matches between the two nations have all been decided by one goal or less, including a pair of UEFA Nations League games last autumn. Neither side scored in Copenhagen in September before the Danes collected a 1-0 win in London the following month in a match that saw Harry Maguire sent off for a second yellow midway through the first half.

And while some things have changed in the nine months since their last encounter, this tournament has confirmed there isn’t a wide difference in class between these two sides -- certainly not enough to merit Denmark’s status as a +450 underdog.

Instead, it’s likely the home-field advantage of Wembley combined with the name recognition of this England side that lends to the line being what it is, and neither are insurmountable factors for the Danes once the whistle blows.

It’s true that the Three Lions could very well end their long trophy drought on home soil this summer, but history suggests they won't. And in an even contest like this, why not go where the value is?

Destiny calls for someone. Better to invest where the reward is greatest.