Injuries have ruined Russia’s UEFA Euro 2016 preparations and one expects the Russians to struggle in their Group B opener against pool favourite England on Saturday.
Neither Igor Denisov nor Alan Dzagoev, arguably Russia’s finest midfielders, will line up versus England due to knocks, with the latter absent from the Russian roster because his damaged metatarsal will not mend any time soon.
Russia did not impress during UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying and, if the Russians had been drawn in a tougher preliminary group, they probably would not have recovered from taking only eight points from their first six games. Russia has reverted to its Fabio Capello form in its recent friendlies, losing all three of its warm-up matches against UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers – Croatia, France and the Czech Republic.
The reputation of Russia is what has earned its second favouritism in UEFA Euro 2016 Group B, with bookmakers refusing to believe that Slovakia and/or Wales are more talented than the Russians. Time may prove that Russia was worthy of UEFA Euro 2016 Group B second favouritism but one doubts that the Russians are anywhere near England’s level.
England qualified for UEFA Euro 2016 with a perfect 10-0-0 record and, in a tournament without a team that stands out from the crowd, the Three Lions could go close to winning the title. France has faced both England and Russia since November – the Three Lions won 2-0 in London, whereas the Russians lost 2-4 in Paris. According to one’s collateral form analysis, England is three goals superior to Russia and, consequently, odds of -109 with 888Sport and Unibet about a Three Lions victory rate as a decent bet.
Coral and Paddy Power are offering odds of +260 about England beating Russia by more than one goal and, if one thought that Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson would bench Wayne Rooney, that would have been one’s headline pick. However, it seems that Hodgson is tied to Rooney, at least until such time that the England captain has a stinker.
Wales went 0-1-3 in its four UEFA Euro 2016 preparatory games versus the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Ukraine and Sweden, whereas Slovakia went 4-3-0 in similar matches against Switzerland, Iceland, Latvia, Ireland, Georgia, Germany and Northern Ireland. On a collateral form line through Northern Ireland there is nothing to choose between Wales and Slovakia but the overall value of the results of the Falcons is superior to those of the Dragons.
The most meritorious result that Wales have posted in recent years is a 1-0 home win over Belgium but the Red Devils are international football’s most overrated team in that they are a side that is less than the sum of their parts. One fancies Slovakia’s chance of finishing second to England in UEFA Euro 2016 Group B and the Falcons are worth backing at odds of +197 with Marathonbet to win their Saturday fixture.
Finally, no Albania goal scorer was one of one’s UEFA Euro 2016 futures selections and Switzerland is far from prolific versus competitive sides so under one and a half goals is a logical pick in their Group A game on Saturday – Marathonbet is offering odds of +168 about the low-scoring option.
That Albania’s three goalkeepers began Thursday’s training session 30 minutes before their outfield teammates tells you everything that you need to know about the Eagles and how their boss, Gianni De Biasi, is approaching UEFA Euro 2016. Albania will set out to keep clean sheets and qualify for the UEFA Euro 2016 knockout phase through defensive steel.
Albania has not scored more than one goal in any of its last nine matches against UEFA Euro 2016 qualifiers since 2014 and Switzerland failed to breach England’s defence in both of their clashes during the preliminary campaign.
England to beat Russia
Saturday 11th June, 20:00 GMT
Slovakia to beat Wales
Saturday 11th June, 17:00 GMT
Switzerland v Albania – Under 1.5 goals
Saturday 11th June, 14:00 GMT