Ireland may make life difficult for UEFA Euro 2016 host France but one cannot see anything other than a Blues victory in Sunday’s last 16 match in Lyon.
The expansion of UEFA Euro 2016 to a bloated 24 teams has enabled sides such as Ireland to reach the knockout phase but the Irish qualified after drawing 1-1 with dreadful Sweden, losing 0-3 to Belgium in a one-sided game and netting an 85th-minute winner versus a second-string Italy that was guaranteed to win Group E regardless of the result.
Ireland’s management team of Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane hugged each other as though they had won a rollover lottery jackpot because the two of them probably realised that the Irish were lucky to make UEFA Euro 2016’s last 16. Ireland’s tactics against higher ranked opponents have tended to be defend, defend, defend and, with France playing on home soil, one expects the Irish to play to type. Offer Ireland the raffle of a penalty competition versus France and one is confident that the Irish would snap it up before kick off.
France is too short in the betting on the UEFA Euro 2016 last 16 match because not only will Ireland defend deep but also the French have not found their shooting boots, relying on late goals to beat Romania and Albania before drawing 0-0 against Switzerland in their final Group A game. One thinks that the cream will rise to the top eventually, though, and so the half-time/full-time double-result market in which draw/France is available at odds of +285 with 888Sport and Unibet is the most attractive bet. Draw/France was the winning double-result option for two of France’s three UEFA Euro 2016 Group A matches, while Ireland was level at half time in each of its three Group E games.
Germany is similarly priced to France in its UEFA Euro 2016 last 16 tie, with the FIFA World Cup winners facing Slovakia in Lens. Croatia and Spain have been UEFA Euro 2016’s media darlings but Germany topped Group D without conceding a goal and, had it not been for its profligacy and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Michael McGovern having a blinder, the Germans would have scored double figures versus the Northern Irish.
Slovakia lost, perhaps unluckily, 1-2 to Wales in its first UEFA Euro 2016 Group B match before bouncing back with 2-1 win over Russia and, definitely luckily, a 0-0 draw against England. One rates Slovakia higher than Ireland but, again, it is another side that has only made the knockout phase because it has been expanded to include another round.
One will not get very rich backing Germany simply to get the better of Slovakia so, in search of value on one of the many exotic markets, one has settled upon the Germans to win by a one-goal margin at odds of +225 with Betfair, BoyleSports and SkyBet. Slovakia has lost just one of its last 35 games by more than one goal and that was a 0-2 loss to Spain during qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016. Germany is a shade of odds on to defeat Slovakia without leaking a goal.
Regular readers will know that one is not Belgium’s biggest fan but the Red Devils have landed on their feet with a UEFA Euro 2016 last 16 clash versus Hungary and a position in the top half of the draw. Hungary finished top of awful UEFA Euro 2016 Group F but there is no depth to its form and, while cannot recommend backing Belgium to go all the way irrespective of their extremely kind tournament draw, through gritted teeth one can pick the Red Devils to beat Hungary by a one-goal margin at odds of +225 with several bookmakers, including Bet365, Ladbrokes and SkyBet.
Draw/France – Half Time/Full Time Result
Sunday 26th June, 14:00 GMT
Germany to win by a One Goal Margin
Sunday 26th June, 17:00 GMT
Belgium to win by a One Goal Margin
Sunday 26th June, 20:00 GMT