Sweden vs. France Preview

The first group stage of this summer’s European Championships comes to a close on Tuesday evening, with Sweden facing France in Kiev. The Swedes were eliminated from the competition following their 3-2 defeat to England on Friday evening.

Two goals from Olympiakos defender Olof Mellberg had had given his team the lead, though two goals in five second half minutes gave Roy Hodgson’s the points. They had also led in their opening game against Ukraine before going on to lose the match, so you might be tempted to take advantage of the 9/0 (8/1) offered by Paddy Power for France to come from behind and win the game.

That was what happened the last time these two sides met, with France running out 3-2 winners in a friendly in Goteborg back in 2008. Henrik Larsson had given Sweden an early lead, before a Karim Benzema goal, and two from Sidney Govou secured put the game beyond doubt before Kim Kallstrom’s late conciliation.

It is twenty years since their last met in a competitive fixture, drawing 1-1 in the group stages of the 1992 European Championships.

Sweden are unsurprisingly outsiders here, with most bookmakers offering 6.0 (5/1) for them to win the game, with France odds on at 1.65 (13/20) with Bet Victor. The draw is most prevalently a 3.75 (11/4) shot.

France go in to the game as favourites to win Group D, though that will depend on the outcome of England versus Ukraine in Donetsk, as well as their own result. If they avoid defeat, they will ensure their place in the quarter finals, as well as extending their unbeaten run to an incredible twenty-four games.

With Laurent Blanc’s men is such fantastic form, you might want to take advantage of the 4.20 (16/5) Bwin are offering for France to win with four or more goals scored in the game.

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Croatia vs. Spain Preview

Monday evening’s game in Gdansk sees leaders Spain face second place Croatia, with both sides knowing victory will win them group C. A draw will be good enough for holders Spain, whilst a high scoring draw will be good enough for their opponents.

If the game finishes 1-1, Croatia will be eliminated if Italy equal or better the result Croatia recorded against the Republic of Ireland in the opening round of games.

Spain are odds on favourites to win the match, with Stan James offering the best price of 4/5. Croatia are 15/2 with Bet Victor, whilst the draw is around 15/8. Vincente Del Bosque’s side go in to the game having stormed to a 4-0 victory in their last game against the Irish.

Sergio Busquets looks set to recover from an injured foot, whilst Fernando Torres is likely to keep his place in the starting line-up following his brace on Thursday. The Chelsea striker is 6.5 (11/2) to open the scoring on Monday, and is now 4.5 (7/2) second favourite to win the tournament’s Golden Boot.

Fourth on the list in the top goal scorer market is Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic, with Sporting Bet offering the best price 0f 21.0 (20/1); a generous price considering, his current tally of three in the last two games. The Wolfsburg striker’s last goal was the second half equaliser against Italy in Poznan on Thursday.

These two sides last met in a warm up game before the 2006 World Cup, with Fernando Torres scoring a last minute winner in a 2-1 victory for Spain.

With a 2-2 score line benefitting both teams, the bookmakers have slashed the odds making it the mostly likely outcome in their opinion. Usually you would expect a price of 15.0 (14/1), though in this instance, Bet 365 offer the best price of 7/1 (8.0).

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Italy vs. Ireland Preview

Italy go in to their final group game on Monday evening, knowing that victory is their only chance of qualifying for the last eight of the competition. However, if Spain versus Croatia is a 2-2 or higher scoring draw, the Italians will be out regardless of their own result.

Republic of Ireland became the first side to be eliminated from the competition following their 4-0 defeat to Spain on Thursday, having also lost their opener against Croatia on match day one. Giovanni Trapottoni’s men are massive outsiders at 12.0 (11/1) with Bet Fred to win this game, while Italy are odds on at around 1.29 (2/7) across the board. The draw is 6.0 (5/1) with Stan James.

Antonio Di Natale, who scored in his sides 1-1 draw with holder Spain on match day one looks set to start on Monday, as Mario Balotelli looks unlikely to shake off a knee injury he picked up in training. The Udinese striker is 5.5 (9/2) to get the first goal in Poznan whilst Andrea Pirlo, who scored his tenth international goal last time out, is a 12.0 (11/1) shout with Bet 365 to get the goal scoring underway.

The last time these two sides met, Republic of Ireland famously won in a friendly in Liege just over a year ago. Keith Andrews and Simon Cox scored either side of half time to give Trapottoni a famous win against his home country.

They were also drawn in the same qualification group for the 2010 World Cup, with both the home and away games finishing all square, whilst it was Irish who were victorious when the met in 1994 World Cup group stages.

It is over twenty years since Italy won this particular battle, so you might be tempted to back the Irish to go out on a high, with Bet Victor offering a very generous price of 29.0 (28/1) for a 1-0 Republic of Ireland win. You can also get the same price from Stan James for Damien Duff, who is set to win his 100th cap, to open the scoring.

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Spain vs. Ireland Preview

Tournament favourites Spain face the Republic of Ireland in Thursday evening’s late kick off in Group C. The Spanish were held to a 1-1 draw with Italy on Sunday, with Cesc Fabregas equalising after Antonio Di Natale’s opener on the hour mark.

The two teams met almost ten years ago to the day, in the last sixteen of the 2002 World Cup. Robbie Keane’s last minute penalty cancelled out Fernando Morientes’s early opener, with Spain eventually winning 3-2 on penalties. That was Irelands last tournament game, before their 3-1 defeat to Croatia on Saturday, while Spain have gone on to dominate European and World football in that time period.

Unsurprisingly, Vincente Del Bosque’s team go in to this game as huge favourites, with nobody offering better than 1.28 (2/7) for a Spanish victory. Bodog have the best odds of 6/5 (11/2) for the draw, as well as having the best price of 15.0 (14/1) for the Republic of Ireland win.

That defeat to Croatia was Irelands first in over fifteen months. It was also the first time they had conceded away from home since their 1-1 draw with Slovakia in qualifying back in October 2010. However, tests don’t come much tougher than the prospect of facing a side going for a record third consecutive trophy.

Even score odds on a heavy Spanish victory don’t provide much value, with the 4-0 victory priced at just 13.0 (12/1) by Stan James. Those punters tempted to back a shock result might be interested in the price of 29.0 (28/1) offered by Bet Victor for a one-nil Republic of Ireland win.

Alternatively, you might fancy Keith Andrews, arguably Irelands best player in their group opener, to give his side the lead, with some bookmakers offering 51.0 (50/1) for the midfielder to get the first goal of the game.

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Italy vs. Croatia Preview

Thursday’s match in Poznan sees Group C leaders Croatia meet Italy, with Slaven Bilic’s side knowing that three points would see them safely into the quarter finals.

The Croats ran out 3-1 winners against the Republic of Ireland on Sunday, with Mario Mandzukic scoring twice. The Wolfsburg striker is now a rather generous 26.0 (25/1) with Bodog to win the tournaments golden boot.

Croatia are in good form, having lost just four times in three and a half years. They last met Italy in a friendly back in 2006, and ran out 2-0 winners; a game where Luka Modric scored his first international goal. Modric, who has 8 goals in 55 international appearances, is 8.0 (7/1) with a variety of bookmakers to score at any time.

Croatia are 3.5 (5/2) with Bet Victor to take all the points here, with the draw at around 3.20 (11/5). Italy are favourites to win the game at 2.30 (13/10).

The Italians go into this game having held holders and tournament favourites Spain to a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s early evening kick off. Subsitute Antonio Di Natale scored just four minutes after coming on for Mario Balotelli, though Cesc Fabregas’s equaliser four minutes later meant the spoils were shared. That goal from Di Natale was Italy’s first since their 2-0 win over Poland back in November, which was also the last time they tasted victory.

They went into the tournament on the back of three straight defeats. A loss here would leave them relying on other results in order to progress to the quarter finals.

With Croatia in much better form than their supposed superior opponents, you might want to take advantage of the generous odds available for them to record a narrow victory. Bwin are offering odds of 5.5 (9/2) for Croatia to win with less than three goals scored in the game.

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Netherlands vs. Germany

In arguably the stand out fixture of the Euro 2012 group stages, the Netherlands meet Germany in Wednesday’s late kick off in Kharkiv.

The Germans, who have lifted the trophy on three occasions, could wrap up qualification for the quarter finals with victory, depending on the outcome of Group B’s other game earlier in the day. Joachim Low’s team picked up all three points following their one-nil victory over Portugal on Saturday. They go in to the game as favourites at 6/4 with most bookmakers, with the draw at 12/5. The Dutch are 2/1 to get three much needed points.

The 1988 European Champions lost their opening game to rank outsiders Denmark, leaving them with an uphill battle to make it to the last eight. They will be desperate to improve on their last meeting with their fiercest European rivals, having lost 3-0 in a friendly in Hamburg last November – the goals coming from Thomas Muller, Miroslav Klose and Mesut Ozil. All three players are set to feature here, though it is striker Mario Gomez who has been making all the headlines recently.

The Bayern Munich man bagged an incredible 41 goals in 52 club appearances, got the only goal in Saturday’s victory, and is 7.0 (6/1) to open the scoring here, whilst Sporting Bet offer 9.50 (17/2) for a Germany win/ Gomez first goal double.

The Netherlands managed 29 shots on goal in that defeat to Denmark, with just six hitting the target. Incredible, as strikers Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar managed an incredible 85 club goals between them during the domestic season. With such attacking talent on display, goals are certainly to be expected, and you can get odds of 7.0 (6/1) with William Hill that ball will hit there will be five or more scored in the game.

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