Zlatan Ibrahimovic played a part in Sweden’s equalising goal versus Ireland but the Irish kept the Swedish striker quiet for 99 per cent of their UEFA Euro 2016 Group E clash and, remember, it was an Irish defender who headed the ball into the net. Sweden left back Martin Olsson made several forays down the side of the pitch that he patrols but his Swedish teammates did not present much of a threat either centrally or on their right wing. Sweden looks incapable of scoring more than one goal against any team with a good defence.
Italy has a good defence with most of the Blues defenders playing their club football for Italian Serie A champion Juventus. Italy’s stoppers, particularly Leonardo Bonucci, excelled in their side’s UEFA Euro 2016 Group E 2-0 defeat of a Belgium team that failed to live up to its billing as one of the competition’s major contenders. The 2-0 scoreline flattered Italy, not least because Graziano Pelle netted his side’s second goal in the 93rd minute. A 1-0 win for Italy would have been a fair reflection of the match between the pre-tournament UEFA Euro 2016 Group E favourites.
Sweden offered very little as an attacking force in its UEFA Euro 2016 Group E opener against Ireland and that combined with Italy being better defensively than offensively makes the case for backing under two and a half goals in their Friday game easy to make at odds of -159 with Marathonbet.
Three of Sweden’s last five games have gone under two and a half goals, whereas it is four out of five for Italy. A draw would all but qualify Italy for the UEFA Euro 2016 last 16 and keep alive Sweden’s hopes of reaching the next phase. Therefore, one does not expect either Italy or Sweden to play recklessly in their second UEFA Euro 2016 Group E match, with the odds favouring a low-scoring encounter.
Croatia has marked out itself as a legitimate UEFA Euro 2016 contender and one fancies that it book its place in the last 16 with a win over a Czech Republic team that simply cannot keep a clean sheet versus any side that is not a minnow.
The Czech Republic’s 0-1 loss to Spain in its UEFA Euro 2016 Group D game made it 22 failures to keep a clean sheet in its last 23 matches, the exception being its recent 6-0 friendly victory over Malta. Croatia’s all-star midfield, led by Luka Modric, created many chances in its 1-0 UEFA Euro 2016 Group D win over Turkey and the Croatians should profit from the Czech Republic’s defensive shortcomings. Spain would have beaten the Czech Republic handsomely had Petr Cech not pulled off a series of outstanding saves.
Argentina and, rather less impressively, Norway are the only two teams that have lowered Croatia’s colours since this time two years ago. Several bookmakers, including Ladbrokes, SkyBet and William Hill, are quoting odds of -110 about a Croatia success over what may be UEFA Euro 2016 Group D’s weakest link in a Czech Republic side that cannot defend.
Spain has won each of its last nine competitive games to nil, yet bookmakers are willing to let punters back the Spanish to beat Turkey without conceding a goal at odds against – BetVictor is top of the pops at +120 .
Turkey created just one genuine goal-scoring opportunity in its UEFA Euro 2016 Group D curtain raiser against Croatia and life is not going to get any easier for the Turkish attackers versus a Spain team that retains possession so well. Turkey will have to live off scraps of ball so one thinks that Spain should be odds on to win to nil.
Italy v Sweden – Under 2.5 Goals
Friday 17th June, 14:00 GMT
Croatia to beat Czech Republic
Friday 17th June, 17:00 GMT
Spain to beat Turkey to Nil
Friday 17th June, 20:00 GMT