European Championship Betting Guide: Monday 6/28/21
The third day of knockout soccer at Euro 2020 sees two of the last three FIFA World Cup winners in action with a trip to the quarterfinals on the line.
For an in-depth look at what to expect in Copenhagen and Bucharest on Monday, read on, and be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for all the odds on Euro 2020 and more.
Croatia vs. Spain
Parken Stadium | Copenhagen, Denmark | 12pm ET
The Pick: Draw +270
Monday brings two-time Euro winners Spain and 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia against each other for the third European Championships in a row, though unlike in tournaments past, this year’s clash takes place in the knockout stage.
We got us a good one in the Round of 16 pic.twitter.com/GUkHtXJeee
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 23, 2021
While the two nations split those meetings in 2012 and 2016, the Spanish are heavy favorites to advance this time, and the analytics back up that choice.
Even though La Roja scored only once in their first two matches before the goals started flowing in a 5-0 rout of Slovakia on Matchday 3, Luis Enrique’s men still lead the tournament in expected goals (8.8) and possession (69.3%), are second in shots on target (6.3 per game) and third in total shots (16) and passing completion (89.5%).
They’ve been sound defensively, as well, conceding just once and allowing the joint-fewest shot attempts while spending the least amount of time in their own third.
If you’ve watched Spain this month, you’ve likely not come away impressed. They were frustrated over and over again in a 0-0 draw against Sweden on Matchday 1 and then essentially ran it back for a carbon-copy 1-1 result against Poland.
The Swedes are currently ranked No. 18 in the world while Poland is No. 21. Croatia is No. 14.
And, yes, the Spanish did hammer the Slovaks on Wednesday to finish the group stage on a high note, but if you’ve been reading this website this summer, you’ll know that Slovakia was as overmatched as any team in this tournament, making that result a little less impressive than the scoreline would make it seem.
Now the 2010 World Cup champs get a Croatian team that also enters this match with confidence after a 3-1 win over Scotland to lift them to runner-up status in Group D.
It’s true that Zlatko Dalić’s side hasn’t always been in top gear in this tournament -- they didn’t offer much in a 1-0 loss to England, nor in a 1-1 to the Czech Republic – but while the numbers agree that their group stage performances were fairly average, they are just three years removed from a historic run to the World Cup final And they still have Luka Modric in the team.
LUKA. MODRIC. WHAT. A. GOAL.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 22, 2021
Per usual, Modric will be a key figure to Croatia’s success on Monday, as the Real Madrid midfielder will be the Vatreni’s release valve and main catalyst to the transition game that will likely be the team’s best chance of offense against a Spanish side destined to have the majority of the ball.
It’s not a stretch to assume Croatia will be under siege for much of this match, and it’s likely they’ll concede at some point -- they’ve kept just two clean sheets in 2021, and those were to Malta and Cyprus -- but they’re also hard to keep off the scoresheet and have been outstanding at navigating knockout football under Dalić, making them much more than just a token longshot.
Lastly, even though Spain still have the reputation of a successful tournament team, it’s worth noting that La Roja have failed to advance beyond the Round of 16 in each of the last three major tournaments. Plus, Croatia have beaten Spain twice across their last three meetings since 2016.
If star winger Ivan Perisic hadn’t just tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday, it’d be tempting to back Croatia outright, but the loss of the Inter Milan man’s cutting edge on the flank is enough to consider the stalemate after regulation the better option.
France vs. Switzerland
National Arena Bucharest | Bucharest, Romania | 3pm ET
The Pick: France -190
At +600, the Swiss have the second-longest odds to move on to the quarterfinals. Their opponents in Bucharest, meanwhile, are still FanDuel Sportsbook's favorite to be crowned champions at Wembley on July 11.
Surely this match will be straightforward then, right?
To be fair, Switzerland have had some bright moments this month -- they were the better side against Wales despite drawing 1-1, and they did beat Turkey convincingly to secure passage to the Round of 16 -- but Vladimir Petković’s side is one of only two teams left with a negative goal difference after a 3-0 dismantling by Italy on Matchday 2. Plus, they’ve not beaten a top-10 team since 2018, with six losses and four draws in that stretch.
Of course, France haven’t exactly been invincible at these Euros.
After a satisfactory 1-0 win over Germany, the 2018 world champs could manage just draws against Hungary and Portugal, but while the numbers suggest they’ve been average, Didier Deschamps’ men still went unbeaten in the tournament’s toughest group and were a questionable penalty call and a disallowed goal away from posting a perfect group stage record.
1 - France have finished 1st of their group in all 4 major tournaments under Didier Deschamps, after not doing so in their previous 3. Les Bleus are the only team to finish 1st of their group in all major tournaments (EURO + WC) since the 2014 World Cup included. Habit. #FRAPOR pic.twitter.com/ZV0L1yYqed
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) June 23, 2021
Keep in mind that France have been defeated just twice in the last three years -- they’re the second-ranked team in the world for a reason -- and they’ve not lost to the Swiss since 1992, a run that includes a memorable 5-2 French win at the 2014 World Cup.
Then there’s this: while Les Bleus have reached two major tournament finals in a row, the Swiss haven’t gotten beyond the Round of 16 at a major tournament since -- ready? -- 1954.
And while the prospect of extra time always has to be considered after the group stage -- even when there’s a clear favorite, a la Italy-Austria on Saturday -- note that France have only been pushed beyond regulation once in the eight knockout stage games they played at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.
No, the French won’t always be the obvious choice to back moving forward, but it’s hard to envision them falling to an average Swiss side at the first hurdle.
Straightforward it is.