Welcome to the second day of the 2020 European Championships.
Things got off to a pretty formful start in the tournament opener, with Italy cruising to a 3-0 rout against overmatched Turkey in a Group A contest. Jeremy Pond (Italy — Team Total Over 1.5 Goals) and Matthew Trebby (Total Over 2.5 Goals) delivered winners on debut, so they’ll look to continue their winning ways on Saturday’s three-match card.
The trio of games on the docket are: Wales vs. Switzerland (Group A); Denmark vs. Finland (Group B); and, Belgium vs. Russia in the Group B nightcap.
As mentioned in Thursday’s story, the Action Network soccer analysts have you covered when it comes to all your Euro 2020 needs, providing game previews, detailed analysis and selections during the tournament.
Let’s take a look at our handicappers’ best bets on the intriguing card.
Saturday’s Best Bets
|ANALYST||PICK | ODDS||BEST BOOK|
|Anthony Dabbundo||Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120)||DraftKings|
|Jeremy Pond||Denmark -1.5 (+133) vs. Finland||DraftKings|
|Matthew Trebby||Switzerland ML (+115) vs. Wales||BetMGM|
|BJ Cunningham||Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120)||DraftKings|
Odds as of Friday afternoon.
Anthony Dabbundo: Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120)
- Odds available at DraftKings
Since Kevin De Bruyne was announced out for the opening group-stage match in Russia, the Belgium line and total are both considerably lower. De Bruyne is one of the best attacking creators in the world, and the Belgians will miss him. That being said, both teams enter Euro 2020 with defensive question marks.
For one, Belgium loves to play a high line under manager Roberto Martinez, but that becomes much riskier when you have aging center backs as it does. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have struggled at their respective clubs the last two seasons, which is a sign they’re in physical decline.
Russia is an attack-first side, featuring plenty of creative players in Aleksander Golovin (Monaco), Aleksei Miranchuk (Atalanta) and Artem Dzyuba (Zenit Saint Petersburg) as the target man up top. Miranchuk and Golovin didn’t get a ton of minutes for their clubs, but shined with 0.32 and 0.40 xA per 90 minutes, respectively.
When these sides met in the qualifying, both were wide open and featured plenty of chances. While I am hesitant to take overs in this tournament in general, this is a great over spot at plus money or better.
Jeremy Pond: Denmark -1.5 (+133) vs. Finland
- Odds available at BetMGM
We got off to the kind of start we hoped for in Friday’s tournament opener between Italy and Turkey. An own goal early in the second half triggered an Italian onslaught, leading the talented Azzurri to a convincing 3-0 victory.
Now, we turn our attention toward this interesting matchup between Denmark and Finland in Group B competition. The Danes, who are heavy -245 favorites at DraftKings entering this affair, are deserving of that lofty number. Denmark won the 1992 edition of this European showcase, but failed to qualify for the 2016 tournament.
However, the Danes righted the ship and finished second behind Switzerland in Euro qualifying play. Now, they’re one of the dark horses in the 24-team field and look to make others take notice against the weakest team in the group.
Denmark enters the tournament in stellar form, having gone unbeaten in 11 of its last 12 contests. The Danes get to face Finland, making its first appearance in the event, on home soil in Copenhagen, so anything less than a win would be considered an utter disappointment.
That said, I’m expecting Christian Eriksen, Pierre-Emile Hojberg and rising star Jonas Wind to have the Danish attack going right at the Finnish defense from the opening whistle.
For that reason, I’m taking a swing on Denmark to stamp its place in this tournament in style and will back it on the alternative line of -1.5 goals as my top selection on the card.
Matthew Trebby: Switzerland ML (+115) vs. Wales
- Odds available at BetMGM
I was pretty surprised to see the Swiss at a plus number, especially against Wales, for this Group B match to start the tournament.
The Welsh are not the same team that made a very fun run to the semifinals in 2016. They don’t have any regular players coming into this competition off great club seasons at a high level, including its two big stars from 2016 in Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale, both of whom now are at least 30 years old.
Wales’ best bet will be that 6-foot-5 striker Kieffer Moore causes enough problems so it can snag a point or more in this meeting.
I don’t see that happening against the Swiss, though, because of their strong spine in the center of defense and midfield. The back line has two Bundesliga center backs (Manuel Akanji and Nico Elvedi) coming off strong seasons, as is right back Kevin Mbabu. Between Granit Xhaka, Denis Zakaria and Remo Freuler, there’s a lot of midfield quality as well.
There are question marks in the attack given Xherdan Shaqiri’s lack of playing time for Liverpool, but he’s capable of a match-winning performance at the international level, as is striker Breel Embolo.
The Swiss were my best longshot to make a run in this tournament, and I fully expect this experienced team to start with three points against a lesser side.
BJ Cunningham: Belgium vs. Russia — Total Over 2.5 Goals (+120)
- Odds available at DraftKings
Belgium comes into this tournament as the top-ranked team and rightfully so, because its attack is quite frightening. Romelu Lukaku, who’s obviously the main man up front, had an incredible season for Inter Milan. Lukaku scored 24 goals, plus he put up a 0.73 xG per 90-minute scoring rate in Serie A play.
I mean you can go up and down the Belgian roster and there is just loads of talent. However, its defense is getting up there in age, as it’s going to be potentially relying on a center-back pairing that’s on the wrong side of 30 years of age.
Now, the Belgians were incredibly impressive through Euro qualifying, scoring an astounding 40 goals, while only allowing three in their contests. Since the 2018 World Cup, Belgium is averaging 2.68 xG per match, while conceding just 0.88 in the category.
However, Belgium actually played Russia twice in Euro qualifying and both matches were really high scoring, with Belgium winning 3-1 in the first meeting and 4-1 in the second contest.
The second meeting, which was played in Russia, was a lot closer than the final score line suggested, as Belgium only out-created Russia by a 2.05 xG-1.66 xG margin. This match will be played in St. Petersburg, so if it goes similarly and given the fact that De Bruyne is going to be out, the Russians could have a chance at pulling off the upset.
Russia’s offense is kind of electric and I think it will be a big over team in this tournament, because it lit up its qualifying group by averaging 3.26 xG per match. However, San Marino was in its qualifying group, which if you don’t know doesn’t have a professional player on its roster and was outscored 51-1 during the qualifying stage.
However, even if you remove the two games against San Marino, the Russians still averaged more than two expected goals per match. That said, I think this showdown is going to be similar to how their previous two meetings went.
I have 2.83 goals projected for this contest, so I think there is a lot of value on over 2.5 goals at +112 odds and will make it my top pick.
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