Best bets for the UEFA Euro 2020 quarterfinals

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Best bets for the UEFA Euro 2020 quarterfinals​

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The Euro 2020 round of 16 saw five of eight favorites advance, highlighted by a marvelous Monday that featured 14 total goals, the most ever on a single Euro knockout day.

Spain survived and advanced, 5-3, over Croatia in extra time. Tournament favorite France did not, going out on penalties to Switzerland after a 3-3 draw.

That leaves England (!) with the shortest price to win the tournament (+200), and the next three betting favorites are all on the same half of the bracket: Spain (+320), Italy (+400), Belgium (+650).

As always in tournament knockout games, remember that all bets are for 90 minutes plus stoppage time, unless otherwise indicated. So if you bet Spain to win last round (points finger at self), the late Croatia comeback lost you the bet, even though Spain did win after extra time.

Here are my best bets for the quarterfinals.

Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill.


Quarterfinals​

Spain win vs. Switzerland (-135) on Friday​

This line opened at -175, and I'm not certain why it moved toward Switzerland, other than perhaps the Swiss line being too high. Had Croatia not scored twice in the final six minutes of regulation, perhaps the perception of Spain would be different.



Regardless, Spain still has the most possession (72 percent), goals (11) and expected goals (11.4 excluding penalties) in the tournament, and this game should follow that trend.

Against France and Italy, Switzerland was outshot 39-17 and conceded a combined 6.6 expected goals while tallying only 1.4 expected goals. Even excluding Spain's two penalties, La Roja has had at least 2.4 expected goals in each game, with 3.9 versus Croatia.

Switzerland also won't have Granit Xhaka, who is suspended for yellow-card accumulation. The Arsenal midfielder led the Swiss in touches, passes completed, tackles and recoveries through four games. Spain should run the midfield even more in his absence.

Spain and manager Luis Enrique surely learned something about killing off a game (right?!), whether that's by subbing in a stronger midfielder (Rodri and Thiago were available) or simply being more defensive-minded in the closing moments. I don't think Spain will make the same mistake twice.

Belgium win vs. Italy (+230) on Friday​

A matchup worthy of the final comes instead in the quarterfinals. Italy has generally been the best team at the tournament, with the top goal difference (+8), shot difference (+59) and expected goal difference (+6.5).

In the round of 16, Italy struggled to create good opportunities against Austria, particularly in regulation. The Azzurri's 18 shots were worth 0.89 expected goals, for an average of 0.05 expected goals per shot, less than half the tournament average. Now Italy faces a Belgium side that has limited opponents to a tournament-low 0.07 expected goals per shot.

Admittedly, Belgium's vaunted attack hasn't been clicking much yet, with the second-fewest shots (38) and expected goals (4.1) among the quarterfinalists. Belgium also had only 0.24 expected goals versus Portugal, getting outshot 23-6. Some of that was related to game state, since Portugal had smaller advantages of 7-4 in shots and plus-0.22 expected goals prior to Thorgan Hazard's 27-yard strike.

Even with Kevin De Bruyne's questionable status after an ankle injury against Portugal, the upside for Belgium is still there, with Romelu Lukaku up top and a loaded midfield behind him. Belgium's situation is similar to Germany's against England. Both were facing slightly better teams and getting a playable price in what's nearly a toss-up game.

Denmark win vs. Czech Republic (+110) on Saturday​

No team has allowed fewer shots (24) or expected goals (2.1) than Denmark at Euro 2020. And that's not just because Denmark is parking the proverbial bus, as the Danes rank second in shots (74) and goals (nine) and fourth in expected goals (7.8) themselves.

Denmark has taken at least 16 shots in each of its four games, while allowing no more than 11 in a game, for a plus-51 shot difference that trails only Italy in the tournament.

Czech Republic looked solid against Netherlands, even prior to the Dutch red card, but I'd much rather ride with Denmark than a Czech side that has 33 shots and 2.5 expected goals at even strength, both in the bottom two among the quarterfinalists. Besides, who wants to bet against Danish magic right now? Not me.

Ukraine-England under 2.5 goals (-130) on Saturday​

The concise case for the under: England's four games at Euro 2020 have had a total of four goals (all by England), and only the Germany match had multiple goals.

More verbosely, England's stingy defense has allowed a total of 35 shots worth 2.7 expected goals in four games, with only Germany topping 0.7 expected goals against the Three Lions. Each of England's opponents has had its tournament low in shots versus England, and Germany was the only one that didn't have its tournament low in expected goals.


Ukraine's offense hasn't been stellar anyway. Aside from the North Macedonia game, Ukraine has a total of 21 shots and 1.6 expected goals at even strength, with one good chance against Sweden prior to Marcus Danielson's red card.

England's Raheem Sterling-led attack has been good enough but not explosive, with 27 shots total and between 1.4 and 1.5 expected goals each game, so England does not appear poised to break out, despite all the firepower on its bench.

I can also see the case for taking Ukraine under 0.5 goals (-125). I'll go with the option of a few more scorelines (1-1, Ukraine 1-0 or 2-0 win) over the chance of an England rout and clean sheet. This shapes up to be a lot like the other four England games.
 
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