Finally, the 2020 European Championships are here.
We had to wait an extra year due to the global pandemic, but the star-studded soccer tournament has fans around the world absolutely giddy in anticipation of this showcase event. The tournament opens Friday, with Turkey taking on Italy in Rome, kicking off a month of top-notch matches that will feature some of the best countries on the planet.
From heavy favorite France to defending champion Portugal, as well as mighty contenders in Belgium, England and Spain to name a few, all eyes will be focused on this 24-nation competition.
Our Action Network soccer analysts have you covered when it comes to all your Euro 2020 needs, providing game previews, detailed analysis and selections throughout the tournament.
The crew will be dishing out its best bets on a daily basis as well, which means it’s jumping right into the mix with four selections for the opening Group A tilt.
Let’s take a look at our handicappers’ top selections for this showdown.
Friday’s Match: Group A — Turkey vs. Italy (3 p.m. ET | ESPN)
|ANALYST||PICK | ODDS||BEST BOOK|
|Anthony Dabbundo||Turkey +1 (-118)||DraftKings|
|Matthew Trebby||Total Over 2.5 Goals (+135)||DraftKings|
|Jeremy Pond||Italy Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (-125)||BetMGM|
|BJ Cunningham||Turkey +1 (-118)||DraftKings|
Odds as of Thursday afternoon.
Anthony Dabbundo: Turkey +1 (-118) vs. Italy
- Odds available at DraftKings
Welcome to Euro 2020 in 2021. Italy, which has one of the oldest center-back pairings in the tournament, and will face off against the youngest squad in the competition in Turkey.
While the Italians are at home for this match and performed well in Euro 2020 and World Cup qualifying under manager Roberto Mancini since missing the 2018 World Cup, they played a pretty easy schedule. That has led me to find major question marks about the Italian attack.
The nation will be without Marco Verratti, who happens to be its best midfielder. The result is a midfield of Manuel Locatelli, Jorginho and Nico Barella. It’s a capable bunch, but the Italians will definitely miss Verrati’s elite ball retention and progression numbers.
That’s a problem against an excellent Turkey defense, which only allowed three goals in 10 qualifying matches and has an underrated group featuring Merih Demiral (Juventus) and Leicester City player Caglar Soyuncu. Needless to say, I expect Turkey to keep this Group A game close.
Italian striker Ciro Immobile is more successful when he has room to run in behind defenses, but Turkey is much more likely to sit deeper and frustrate him and the Italians. Expect long periods of stale possession from Italy that won’t lead to many clear scoring chances.
Jeremy Pond: Italy Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (-125) vs. Turkey
- Odds available at BetMGM
We kick things off in Rome, with an interesting battle between a savvy veteran Italian side facing the youngest team in the 24-team field.
Italy is a massive favorite in this match, hovering around -200 odds across the sportsbook spectrum. And honestly, Azzurri deserve that lofty number. The Italians are unbeaten in a ridiculous 23 consecutive matches, with their last last loss coming via a 2-1 setback against Portugal on Sept. 18, 2018 in a Nations League fixture.
Italy’s offense has been stellar of late as well, scoring at least two goals in its last seven matches.
Don’t get me wrong. I highly rate Turkey manager Şenol Güneş and his side. I have the nation, which has wins against pre-tournament favorite France and powerful Netherlands on its recent résumé, advancing to the knockout phase. However, I expect a combination of the Italians’ experience and shaky Turkish legs to result in Güneş’ sides falling behind and having to chase a result.
Needless to say, I fully expect Italy to go at Turkey from the opening whistle and be relentless on the attack. For that reason and the other points made above, I’m backing Italy to score at least two goals as my top selection.
Throw in the fact Turkey has conceded at least two goals in six of their last 10 matches, and I like my chances of hitting this wager to open the tournament.
Matthew Trebby: Turkey vs. Italy — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+135)
- Odds available at DraftKings
Coming off the European soccer season of the under when it comes to the total , I’m starting Euro 2020 with an over play.
Italy’s backline is seemingly stable with Juventus veterans Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci in the middle. The problem is Chiellini is 36 years old and coming off a subpar club season, while Bonucci hasn’t played much this year. Neither is in great form or has much pace, and there’s a lack of stability at both fullback positions.
Going forward, I like what Italy brings to the table. Nicolo Barella could be a breakout star of this tournament coming off a Serie A-winning season at Inter Milan. He serves as a great link between the midfield and attack, where Federico Cheisa, Ciro Immobile and Lorenzo Insigne are all in their prime.
While Turkey has a strong center-back pairing in Caglar Soyuncu and Merih Demiral, the midfield is lacking great cover for them.
However, there’s talent going forward. Hakan Calhanoglu is out of contract with AC Milan and looking to seal his next big move, while Lille striker Burak Yilmaz might be the best in this group.
I expect both teams to be up for the opener, which will have fans at Stadio Olimpico for the first time in 15 months, with the Turks fully determined to cause trouble in this group.
BJ Cunningham: Turkey +1 (-118) vs. Italy
- Odds available at DraftKings
Italy is one of the more fascinating teams entering the tournament due to the fact their results in Euro and World Cup qualifying were very impressive. The Italians won all 10 of their Euro qualifying matches, as well as their three World Cup qualifying games. They also created 2.95 xG per match, while only allowing 0.91 xG per match.
However, they have the lowest strength of schedule of any country coming into this tournament.
This is going to be a really tricky Group A game for Italy, because Turkey plays out of a 4-1-4-1 formation most of the time, which is not a very popular formation these days. The Turks utilized this look during their 2-0 win and 1-1 draw with France during Euro qualifying, as well as their the 4-2 victory over the Netherlands in a World Cup qualifier.
Italy typically plays out of a 4-3-3 formation, which Turkey will be ready for since that’s what Netherlands played in that aforementioned match in late March. Turkey’s defense is actually impressive as well, as it allowed only 0.97 xG per match over Euro and World Cup qualifying.
As far as squad composition is concerned, Turkey’s group is solid top to bottom, featuring 13 members playing in either England, France or Italy.
With how good Turkey is defensively, I think they should be able to handle the Italian attack and keep this game to at least a one goal margin. Therefore, I think there is some value on Turkey’s spread of +1 at -113 odds.
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