Euro 2020 Match Betting: England v Scotland preview and more

The first round of group games has thrown up some surprise results, and given us an indicator for what we can expect in the days to come. We will now turn our attention to Match day 2, and assess three group clashes — England v Scotland, Croatia v Czech Republic, and Sweden v Slovakia. Within that, we will take a cursory glance at the match odds for these matches.

England v Scotland Betting tips — Buoyant England ready to replicate Euro 96 memories

Having never previously won an opening group game at the Euros, England put that unenviable record to bed with a mature display, as they beat an insipid Croatia 1-0 last Sunday. Raheem Sterling swept home the only goal of the game after latching onto a perfectly weighted pass by Kalvin Phillips.

Sterling has now netted 13 times in his past 17 appearances for England, but the result was an early confidence booster for Gareth Southgate and his charges. Next up is Scotland on Friday at Wembley, and this showdown will invoke memories of Euro 96. At that tournament, England dismantled the Auld Enemy. Paul Gascoigne left Colin Hendry on his back before firing home a sumptuous volley to seal a 2-0 victory.

England has the weight of expectation on its shoulders, but if football is really going to be coming home as many fans would seem to think, they need to be a bit more inventive upfront. Currently, England are 33/100 to beat Scotland.

For Scotland, their return to the Euros was punctured by a 2-0 defeat in their opening Group D game against the Czech Republic. Patrik Schick scored a double, including a spectacular goal from the halfway line. Steve Clarke’s men tried to rally late on, but Kieran Tierney’s injury during the warm-up before the game was a huge blow. They now go to Wembley with a heightened need to pick up a result, but they will have to have a game plan to stop Phil Foden.

Name Winner Top 2
England 21/50 1/14
Croatia 19/5 4/6
Czech Republic 21/2 2/1
Scotland 16/1 3/1

Sweden v Slovakia Betting Tips — Swedes can’t be underestimated after Spain draw

Sweden are a plucky brunch, and they dug deep to pick up an unlikely point in a goalless draw against Spain earlier this week. Spain created plenty of opportunities. But Alvaro Morata was guilty of passing them up, and many of his efforts lacked conviction. At the other end, Sweden lacked cutting edge, although Alexander Isak was very direct. The Spain draw will have given Sweden a lift, and they are 4/5 to beat Slovakia on Matchday 2.

Slovakia, on the other hand, are coming off the back of a 2-1 victory over Poland in their opening Group E game. Milan Skriniar plundered home a volley to get his side off to a winning start, and perhaps like Sweden, may have been slightly underestimated. Sweden v Slovakia could be a very open affair, and this is judged by the fact you can get odds of 7/5 for there to be Over 2.5 goals during the 90 minutes.

Croatia v Czech Republic Betting Tips — Luka Modric will look to get back to his scheming ways

Against England, Croatia were rather subdued, and they failed to settle in the game. Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric was one such player that was underwhelming. However, against the Czech Republic, he will look to get on the ball more often and dictate things in the middle of the park. England was a bad day at the office for Zlatko Dalic’s charges, but they are 23/20 to bounce back against the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic will have the wind in their sails after their victory over Scotland. If they can replicate that performance, they could make progress from Group D at the expense of Croatia. Schick has now been involved in 10 goals in his last nine international appearances, and he will be a threat aerially.

 

 

 

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More top action this week as the horse racing bandwagon turns its attention to the 2021 Royal Ascot Meeting. The five-day meeting (Tues 15th-Sat 19th June) is always one of the highlights on the flat racing calendar and we’ve got it all covered! 

The action continues on Wednesday 16th June with a top card that in spearheaded by the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. 

Did You Know? 18 of the last 19 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes winners were aged 4 or 5 years-old, while 13 of the last 19 successful horses in the race were previous Group One winners.

Like all big race days, here at CASUMO we’re in your corner with key trends and stats, plus our free tips – use these trends to narrow down the field and find the best profiles of past winners.

Let’s get cracking! 

 

2.30 – Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) 5f ITV

 

Queen Mary Stakes Trends

18/19 – Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
18/19 – Had between 1 and 3 previous runs that season
16/19 – Had won over 5f (or shorter) before
16/19 – Won their previous race
15/19 – Won by a horse foaled between Jan-Mar
13/19 – Placed favourites
7/19 – Winning favourites (2 joint)
7/19 – Returned a double-figure price
4/19 – Trained by Wesley Ward (including 3 of last 6 runnings)
3/19 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori (3 of the last 5)
2/19 – Won by trainer Richard Hannon

CASUMO VERDICT: Another 2 year-old race to get us going for day two. Therefore, the betting will be a good guide with these youngsters all lightly-raced. With Frankie Dettori booked to ride the US runner – Artos – then this filly will be popular. She was a nose winner at Churchill Downs last time out over 5 ½ furlongs, while the first-time visor is also interesting here. Another popular one is sure to be the Aidan O’Brien-trained Yet, who got up on the line to win on debut at Dundalk last month and she sports the first-time tongue-tie here. We’ve a few other Irish runners too in Harmony Rose and Orinoco River, but the form pick for me is the Listed winner – NYMPHADORA – who won well at York last month. She had Crazyland back in third that day and Mas Poder in fourth, but at the line had 1 ¼ lengths in-hand and you felt it might have been more. Beautiful Sunshine is one of the more experienced in the field with three runs (2 wins) and can go well too, but her last two wins have been with cut in the ground, so that might be a worry if there is no rain. The other two of interest though are the Clive Cox-trained GET AHEAD (e/w) and the already mentioned MAS PODER (e/w). The former hails from a yard that won this in 2017 and have a 19% record with their 2 year-olds at the track. She was a nice winner over this course and distance last month so that track experience is a plus and has been freshened up with almost 6 weeks off since. Then, Mas Poder, caught the eye when running green but a decent fourth on debut behind Nymphadora at York and with the expected improvement looks another to have onside from the Kevin Ryan yard. 

 

KEY CASUMO TREND: Frankie Dettori has ridden 3 of the last 5 winners. 

 

3.05 – Queen´s Vase (Listed) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 2m ITV

 

Queen´s Vase Key Trends

16/18 – Had never raced at Ascot before
12/18 – Had at least 2 previous career wins
12/18 – Placed last time out
11/18 – Had run over at least 1m4f before
9/18 – Placed favourites
7/18 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
6/18 – Ran at either Lingfield or Haydock last time out
6/18 – Winning favourites
5/18 – Trained by Mark Johnston
5/18 – Ridden by Ryan Moore
2/18 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute (won it 4 times in all)
2/18 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
No winner from stall 1 in the last 15 years
The horse from stall 7 has been placed in 6 of the last 14 runnings (4 wins)
14 of the last 15 winners came from a single-figure stall
6 of the last 15 winners came from stalls 7 or 8

CASUMO VERDICT: A race dominated by the Irish, with six of the 15 runners. Of those six, Aidan O’Brien, who has won the 5 of the last 8 runnings, has three – WORDSWORTH, ARTURO TOSCANINI and KYPRIOS. Jockey Ryan Moore has opted to ride their Wordsworth, so this 3 year-old is likely to be the most popular in the betting. That said, he hung a bit last time out and just got run out of things in the closing stages at Navan over. Moore would have had the pick, but he doesn’t always get it right – just look at the Epsom Oaks earlier this season! Therefore, I think another O’Brien runner – ARTURO TOSCANINI (e/w) – might be worth chancing. This 3 year-old stayed on well over 1m2f last time at the Curragh wo suggest this step up in trip will be a plus and Wayne Lordan, who was on that day, remains in the saddle. He’s also officially rated a pound higher than Wordsworth. Of the rest, Taipan, Ruling, Kemari, and course winner Stowell enter the mix, but the Mark Johnston stable are another that have a good record in this race – they run Dancing King, who has won his last four, and GOLDEN FLAME (e/w). Both look improving stayers, but the last-named got better the further they went last time out over this 1m6f trip and we know he will stay the distance very well. He beat Pied Piper by an easy 4 lengths that day and Derby-winning jockey, Adam Kirby, has been booked to ride. 

KEY CASUMO TREND: Trainer Aidan O’Brien has won 7 of the last 18 runnings. 

 

3.40 – The Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Windsor Forest) (Group 2) 1m ITV

 

Duke of Cambridge Trends

16/17 – Had won over a mile (or further) before
15/17 – Had at least 1 previous run that season
15/17 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
14/17 – Won by a 4 year-old
14/17 – Had won a Group 3 or better race before
11/17 – Had run at Ascot before
10/17 – Favourites that were placed
7/17 – Had won at Ascot before
5/17 – Returned a double-figure price
5/17 – Winning favourites (1 co)
4/17 – Trained by Sir Michael Stoute
4/17 – Ran at Epsom last time out
4/17 – Owned by Cheveley Park Stud
3/17 – Trained by John Gosden
2/17 – Won by trainer James Fanshawe
2/17 – Winners from stall 1
Only four placed horses (2 winners) from stall 1 in the last 17 runnings 

CASUMO VERDICT: Some nice milers on show here, but the form picks are LADY BOWTHORPE and Queen Power. The pair are rated 117 and 113, so the selection has 4lbs in-hand on these terms and that should be enough. This William Jarvis runner actually beat Queen Power by a head at Newmarket in May over 1m1f and has since run the useful Palace Pier to 1 ½ lengths in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury – that’s the best form on offer and a repeat of that would make her hard to beat. Queen Power will give her a race though and comes here having won the G2 Middleton Stakes easily over 1m2f at York last time. But I’m just not sure the drop back to a mile will suit. Her best recent runs have been over 1m2f and even though she’ll be staying on well at the depth, she’ll need the pace to stay in the race during the first half of it. Of the rest, Champers Elysees, Double Or Bubble and ONASSIS (e/w) are respected with the last-named worth a dabble. This Charlie Fellowes runner landed the Sandringham Stakes at the Royal Meeting last season and is the only CD winner in the field. She’s done well since when upped in grade and rounded off last season with a fine 6th (of 16) in the G1 Champions Sprint Stakes over 6f. She acts on ay ground and won at this meeting off a long break last season, so the 242-day break isn’t a worry. 

KEY CASUMO TREND: 14 of the last 17 winners were aged 4 years-old. 

 

4.20 – Prince of Wales´s Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f ITV


Prince of Wales´s Stakes Trends

19/19 – Had won over at least 1m2f before
18/19 – Returned 17/2 or shorter in the betting
18/19 – Won by a 4 or 5 year-old
16/19 – Had at least 1 previous run that season
16/19 – Finished in the top three last time out
13/19 – Were previous Group 1 winners
12/19 – Placed favourites
11/19 – Won their last race
11/19 – Had run at Ascot before
9/19 – Won by a non-UK based trainer
6/19 – Winning favourites
3/19 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien
3/19 – Ridden by Frankie Dettori
2/19 – Won by a Godolphin-owned horse
3 of the last 13 runnings have gone to a French-trained horse

CASUMO VERDICT: Looks a three-horse battle here with last year’s winner – Lord North – and the two Aidan O’Brien runners – Love and Armory – the trio in question. Ryan Moore rode Armory to win the G2 Huxley Stakes at Chester easily last month, but the fact he’s deserted him for Love is interesting. This classy filly landed the 1,000 Guineas, Epsom and Yorkshire Oaks last season and gets a handy 3lbs from Lord North. She’s not been out since last August and this is actually her first try over this 1m2f trip too. We know she stays further so we can expect connections to make us of that but the trip and the fact this is her first run at the track, plus racing against the boys here are all small negatives that make me lean towards LORD NORTH. Last year’s winner bolted up in this race by 3 ¾ lengths and showed he’s better than ever back in March when landing the G1 Dubai Turf at their World Cup meeting. Frankie is the icing on the cake and the Gosden camp have been saying all week this is one of their best chances at the meeting. Of the outsiders, Audarya can go well, while course winners – Sangarius and Desert Encounter – at least have proven form at the track.

 

KEY CASUMO TREND: The John Gosden-trained Lord North won this race in 2020.

 

5.00 – Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) 1m ITV

 

Royal Hunt Cup Trends

17/19 – Had won over at least a mile before
16/19 – Aged 4 or 5 years-old
14/19 – Unplaced favourites
14/19 – Returned a double-figure price
14/19 – Carried 9-1 or less
12/19 – Had run at Ascot before
11/19 – Won by a 4 year-old (inc 9 of the last 12 runnings)
10/19 – Had 2 or 3 previous runs that season
5/19 – Won their last race
2/19 – Won by trainer James Fanshawe
2/19 – Won by trainer John Gosden
1/19 – Winning favourites
Overall, high number stalls have dominated in recent years
13 of the last 15 winners came from a double-figure stall
We’ve seen 3 winners from stall 33 in the last 12 runnings

CASUMO VERDICT: The Royal Hunt Cup is always a competitive affair and this year is no different with 30 runners. 4 and 5 year-old have the best record – winning 16 of the last 19, so the older horses – Escobar, Trais Fluors, Bowerman, Bugle Major, What’s Up Story, Cliffs Of Capri, Teston and Hortzadar are overlooked. 13 of the last 15 winners also came from a double-figure draw – if this is to be repeated then those drawn low would have this as a negative – Path Of Thunder, Beat Le Bon, Pepperoni Pete, Real World, Fantasy Believer, Irish Admiral, Bell Rock, Eastern World and the well-fancied Finest Sound are those drawn low. Going back to the age trend, it’s the 4 year-olds that have the best recent record too – winning 9 of the last 12 – so the three I like are ASTRO KING, BRUNCH and MAGICAL MORNING. Astro King was only a shorthead behind Finest Sound at Nottingham in April and wasn’t disgraced with a running on third at Thirsk last time. The stiffer track here will help and Ryan Moore takes over in the saddle on this Sir Michael Stoute runner. Brunch has run well this season with a second in the Lincoln and then a neck runner-up at York last time out. He’s up 3lbs more here but wasn’t the best away last time, but probably would have won with a better start. Finally, Magical Morning comes from the John Gosden yard, that won this in 2015. He was last seen running second to Matthew Flinders at Doncaster last year but has been gelded since and could have more to come. He’s been freshened up with 9 months off, but won first time out last season and with another winter on his back will be a much stronger horse.  

KEY CASUMO TREND: 13 of the last 15 winners came from a double-figure draw. 

 

5.35 – Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (2yo) 5f ITV


Windsor Castle Trends

19/19 – Had at least 1 previous outing
18/19 – Won by a foal born April or earlier
17/19 – Had 2 or 3 previous runs
14/19 – Had won over 5f before
14/19 – Placed last time out
14/19 – Had never run at Ascot before
10/19 – Returned a double-figure price (inc a 100/1 winner)
10/19 – Unplaced favourites
9/19 – Won their previous race
9/19 – Won by a Feb foal
4/19 – Winning favourites
2/19 – Trained by Wesley Ward
2/19 – Trained by Aidan O’Brien (2 of last 6)
Just one horse placed from stall 1 in the last 13 runnings
10 of the last 13 winners came from a double-figure stall

CASUMO VERDICT: If Artos goes well in the Queen Mary Stakes (today’s first race) then the chances of RUTHIN will be enhanced massively with Ruthin smashing that one by 6 lengths on debut at Keenland. This is a race the Wesley Ward US yard have won in the past too and Frankie Dettori has been booked to ride. She led from the front on debut and being a filly also gets a handy 5lbs allowance here. Draw 12 also looks ideal and will give her options to go either side of the track, while 10 of the last 13 winners hailed from a double-figure stall anyway. The Ward camp also run Golden Ball, who was another easy winner on debut at Keenland and the fact they are sending her over means she’s respected too. Horses from stall one have struggled, so CD winner Chipotle has this trend to overcome. The Queen won this race 12 months ago too – she tires to follow up with the Michael Bell-trained Spring Is Sprung. Armour, if overcoming the low draw, Dig Two and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Amalfi Coast are all ones to note too, but the other pick is TIPPERARY SUNSET (e/w). He’s now 2-from-2 after wins at Hamilton and Beverley. Draw 18 looks ideal and hails from the shrewd John Quinn yard that are 1-from-4 with their juveniles here at Ascot in recent years. 

 

KEY CASUMO TREND: US trainer Wesley Ward has won 2 of the last 12 runnings. 

 

6.10 – Kensington Palace Stakes (Handicap) (4yo+) fillies and mares 1m ITV4

No previous runnings
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has a 16% record with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Ed Walker is just 1-from-34 with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Ralph Beckett is just 2-from-33 with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Trainer Mick Channon is just 1-from-31 with his 4+ year-olds at the track
Frankie Dettori has a 25% record when riding 4+ year-olds at the track 

CASUMO VERDICT: A new race here so only trainer and jockey track stats to go on really. The Sir Michael Stoute yard have a 16% record with their 4+ year-olds at the track so their Ryan Moore-ridden Lights On has to be one for the shortlist. She beat Dreamloper by just a shorthead here last time out and on just 1 pound worse terms shouldn’t be a lot between them again. But I’ll take a chance on the Gosden runner – MOSTLY (e/w) – bouncing back to form. She wasn’t suited by the undulating track last time at Nottingham and lost her action as a result, plus that also came over 1m2f – I feel the drop back to 1m here will suit better having won at Kempton over this trip in March. A 50 day break to freshen up and draw 14 look ideal too. With only average track stats with their 4+ year-olds at the course the Beckett-trained Declared Interest, the Channon runner – Dalanijujo – are overlooked. Several others have cases, including Lola Showgirl, Caspian Queen and Stunning Beauty, but it’s the Joseph O’Brien entry – SO I TOLD YOU (e/w) – that is worth having onside too. This 4 year-old bolted up at Sligo last time out and despite being up 13lbs for that looks a fast-improving sort. The drop back in trip should be fine, but we also know she stays further than this mile and you can expect connections to make full use of that.  Regular jockey, Dylan Browne McMonagle makes the trip over and can also claim a handy 3lbs here. 

KEY CASUMO TREND: Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has a 16% strike-rate with his 4+ year-olds at the track.

 

All times BST

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Wednesday 16th June Euro 2020 Fixtures

Italy v Switzerland Betting Tips — Roberto Mancini’s charges come flying out of the blocks

Setting the tone, and getting off to a good start, is imperative at any major international tournament. Italy certainly did just that. They laid down a marker of their intent with a sensational 3-0 victory over Turkey in the opening game of Euro 2020 on Friday night.Roberto Mancini’s men zipped the ball around with pace, and they were menacing every time they went forward. Ciro Immobile scored, and he teed up Lorenzo Insigne for a classy finish 10 minutes from the end of the game to wrap up a comfortable win. Italy overwhelmed Turkey as they racked up 24 attempts on goal and enjoyed the majority of possession (63%). Switzerland may have learned a thing or two from the Azzurri’s win, but if Italy can keep up the same tempo, Switzerland may struggle to contain them. Italy is a short 3/5 to collect three points against Switzerland.For Switzerland, they will have been disappointed by their draw against Wales in their opening game. Breel Embolo caught the eye as he was direct, and he planted home a header to give the Swiss the lead four minutes after the restart. However, they were denied by Kieffer Moore, who flicked the ball with his head into the bottom corner of the net.

Had it not been for Danny Ward, then Switzerland may have run rampant. Nevertheless, there were some encouraging signs for the Swiss, and they will relish facing Italy. Embolo is at 5/1 to add to his tally against Italy.

Turkey v Wales Betting Tips — Senol Gunes returns to drawing board

Against Italy, Turkey offered very little going forward, and they looked brittle at the back. Although the own goal scored by Demiral as he tried to cut out a cross by Domenico Berardi was unfortunate, Turkey was very much second best.

It is clear from the outset how much of a blow being without Cenk Tosun is. Maybe attack could well be the best form of defence, but Turkey can’t go too gung-ho, or else they will get picked off by Gareth Bale and co. Turkey is better than what they have shown, well at least their win over France in qualifying wasn’t a complete fluke! At the time of writing, Turkey is 13/10 to beat Wales on Wednesday.

For Wales, meanwhile, the Red Wall travelled only in their hundreds to Baku, so the locals made it a more cavernous atmosphere. Wales had to soak up some pressure from Switzerland, and Embolo was a handful. Wales coach Robert Page reverted his formation to 4-2-3-1, and for long periods, the tactical change didn’t pay off. However, you would expect them to get their act together, and leave Baku with three points this time around.

Finland v Russia — Finns enjoy perfect start despite the emotional rollercoaster

As well as making their debut at the European Championships, Finland also endured an emotional rollercoaster. The sight of Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsing on the pitch was deeply worrying, but when the match resumed, Finland held their own, leaving it very late to pinch all three points thanks to a Joel Pohjanpalo header. Currently, Finland is rated at 5/1 to return maximum points from their first two group games.

In stark contrast, Russia was left flailing against Belgium in their opening Group B match, and they crashed to a 3-0 defeat. Russia was bullied at times by Romelu Lukaku, who fired in two goals. The former Manchester United striker admitted he was ‘scared’ when the news surrounding Eriksen filtered through. Speaking after the game, he said: “It was difficult to play the game. I hope he is healthy, and I dedicate this performance to him.”

Finland was expected to be the whipping boys of Group B, but they could well pick up another priceless win against Russia, which would alleviate any pressure against Belgium.

 

 

 

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France v Germany

Navigating Group F: ‘the Group of Death’

Undoubtedly, Group F has been labelled the ‘Group of Death’ for good reason. It contains European heavyweights France and Germany, as well as reigning champions Portugal. One of these teams will be packing their bags early. But can Portugal escape the ‘Group of Death’, and successfully defend their title?

We will find out the answer over the next few weeks. In this preview, we will look ahead to Match day 1, which sees Germany lock horns with France in Munich, while Hungary will welcome Portugal to the Puskas Arena in Budapest.

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France v Germany:

France motoring along ahead of Germany showdown

After falling at the final hurdle to Portugal five years ago, France will be hungry to add a third European Championship title to their cabinet. Les Bleus are currently carrying the mantle of World Cup champions, and they look in fine fettle going into Euro 2020. Indeed, in a warm-up match earlier this week, they thrashed Wales 3-0 and were sublime going forward.

Didier Deschamps has an abundance of riches at his disposal and, against Germany, they will look to get early balls to Kylian Mbappe, who has an electrifying amount of pace. When one-on-one with the goalkeeper, he rarely turns down an opportunity. Mbappe could well end up being the top scorer of the tournament, and he could lay down a marker in the opening group game.

Germany will be roared on in front of a home crowd. While Joachim Low will want to end his tenure as national manager on a high. Former Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick is set to take over, and this could be a momentous summer for Germany.

There is plenty of talent in the squad, and they are one of the most decorated teams in the tournament, with three European Championship titles to their name. Currently, Germany are slight underdogs to beat France, as they are valued at 37/20 to pinch all three points.

Hungary v Portugal:

What other records will Cristiano Ronaldo break for Portugal?

After ending his international trophy drought five years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo still remains vitally important for his country. With 103 goals in 173 appearances for the defending champions, Ronaldo has been a goal-scoring machine. At 36, however, he is in the autumn of his career, and it could be his swansong at the Euros.

There are plenty more records Ronaldo could break this summer, including most goals at the European Championship Finals. At the moment he’s tied on 9 with France’s legend Michel Platini. Portugal has a great supporting cast in the likes of João Félix and Bruno Fernandes, and they could put Hungary to the sword on June 15 if they are at the races. Portugal are priced, at the time of writing, at a short 11/20 to beat Hungary in their opening group game, and it is hard to argue with that. Only complacency could prevent Portugal from a winning start.

Hungary is undoubtedly the weakest team in the tournament, but you can’t imagine they will allow themselves to be rolled over against Portugal. The main tactic will be to keep Ronaldo quiet, but it will also be all about managing periods in the game, such as not conceding in the first 15 minutes.

However, if we look over at the head-to-head record, it makes for grim reading for Hungary. In nine previous meetings with Portugal, they have drawn twice and lost seven of those clashes. However, at Euro 2016, the two teams played out an entertaining 3-3 draw. Portugal came from behind three times to secure a draw, and yes, that man Ronaldo netted a double.

 

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Monday 14th Preview

Are Spain primed for Euro 2020 success?

Spain will kick off their Euro 2020 campaign at home to Sweden and it will be fascinating to see how they get on without any Real Madrid players in their squad. We will soon see whether that backfires against Sweden. Aside from previewing that match, we will also look ahead to the other two opening group games on Matchday 1. This sees Scotland host the Czech Republic and Poland lock horns with Slovakia in St Petersburg.

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Portugal draw provides few clues about Spain

There have been a series of international friendlies taking place over the past week, as teams fine-tune their preparations for the start of Euro 2020. Spain welcomed Portugal to the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Friday night, but the two sides played out a drab draw. Indeed, there were only three shots on target that were managed between the two sides over the 90 minutes.

The major story was that Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte earned his first international cap for Spain, having never played a senior game for France. Enrique has made a big gamble by excluding Real Madrid veteran Sérgio Ramos, who is Spain’s most-capped player, from his squad. Nevertheless, the Portugal draw gave us few clues about how Spain are shaping up ahead of Euro 2020.

While Spain were put to the sword against Italy in the last-16 stage five years ago, they should be comfortable against a Swedish side bereft of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Spain are currently short favourites at 4/9 to pick up three points against Sweden.

Although being without Ibrahimovic for Euro 2020 will be a dagger to the heart of Sweden, they will fancy their chances of qualifying for the last 16. Victor Lindelof will shore things up at the back, while Emil Forsberg will give them some dynamism in midfield.

Furthermore, in Alexander Isak, they have a proven goalscorer. Currently, Sweden are 19/20 to finish in the top two in Group E, and you feel that their opening group game against Spain will determine this.

 

Scotland finally back in the big time

After more than two decades away from the international major tournament scene, Scotland proudly take their place in Group D and will be hoping to ruffle a few feathers. They gave an excellent account of themselves against the Netherlands, despite being short of seven players due to COVID-19 preparations.

Although Memphis Depay rescued a draw for the Netherlands with a late free-kick, Scotland looked to be a real threat and Steve Clarke has got them playing some great stuff. Kieran Tierney, in particular, excelled against the Netherlands, and you can expect him to bomb down the left flank at Euro 2020. Whether their defensive frailties show up against the Czech Republic remains to be seen, but Scotland are 2/1 to win their opening group game.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic have history at the Euros. They reached the final in 1996 before they were defeated by Germany. The Czechs also have England in their group, so the battle for the top spot could be keenly contested. While the Czechs are the favourites against Scotland, this could end up being even honours.

Poland relying on Robert Lewandowski magic

When you think of Poland, you think of Robert Lewandowski. Group E has a rather intriguing element to it, as it also contains Sweden and Spain. Lewandowski had an excellent campaign at Bayern Munich where he lifted the Bundesliga title. He also broke Gerd Muller’s single-season record for most goals (41). If Lewandowski is firing on all cylinders, it is hard to see Slovakia stopping him.

Slovakia, meanwhile, may not be the most glamorous team, but Marek Hamsik will want to shine. Although he doesn’t generate as many headlines as he did when he was at Napoli, he’s still the metronome of the team. However, Poland are a tough starter. Slovakia are currently priced at 17/4 to win.

 

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