UEFA EURO 2016 is a month away, but we bring you an early game-by-game rundown of Group B first round matchups, complete with early soccer odds and soccer picks.
Group B Preview
England's odds to triumph in France this summer have been on a steady decline since the market first went to press on the heels of World Cup 2014. A standout qualifying campaign that culminated in a perfect 10-0-0 record for Roy Hodgson's side combined with an eye-brow raising win over Germany in International friendly action earlier this year has seen the Three Lions' stock improve across sportsbooks. That and a relatively favourable Group B draw that sees England avoid many of the heavyweights in the competition. Let's discover what the EURO 2016 looks like.
Here's an overview of Group B Betting markets
Table 1: Group B Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Nation||Group Winner||To Qualify||Top 2 Finish|
Roy Hodgson's side opens their campaign against Russia on June 11 at Stade Vélodrome in Marseille while Wales open against Slovakia at Stade de Bordeaux in Bordeaux. According to Table 1 England are fancied to win Group B and, equally so, fancied to advance finish inside the Top 2. Interestingly, they aren't favoured wholeheartedly in their opener with Russia as they are currently trading just shy of EVEN money at Pinnacle Sports. Similarly, the clash between Wales and Slovakia is trading on a tight soccer betting line.
Table 2: Group B First Round Match Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Wales vs. Slovakia||+172||+208||+205|
|England vs. Russia||+102||+237||+341|
Wales vs. Slovakia
Wales are set to make their finals debut against a plucky Slovakian side that could prove more difficult than the soccer odds makers would have them in the market. Indeed, the Slovakians appear to be somewhat disingenuously priced as the longshots in the section. The Slovaks proved they are capable of the upset when they defeated two-time defending champions Spain in qualifying 2-1. As well, they beat Ukraine away and then held them to a scoreless draw at home. Incidentally, the very same side that Wales lost 1-0 to in March's round of International friendly action.
Jan Kozak's side finished second behind Spain in qualifying and three points ahead of third-placed Ukraine with a 7-1-2 record all while scoring 17 goals and conceding just 8. By all accounts, from a group that was much tougher than Wales had to contend with in qualifying and in which they finished with a 6-3-1 record and 21 points all while scoring 11 goals and conceding four.
Since qualification wrapped up Slovakia have continued the momentum beating Switzerland 3-2 and Iceland 3-1 in November's round of friendly action. In the last friendly outing in March they reeled off back-to-back draws with Latvia and Republic of Ireland. By contrast, Wales appear to have taken the foot off the pedal with two defeats and a draw in three friendly outings.
The only fixtures played between these two nations came in EURO qualifying, two fixtures that yielded rather lopsided results. In 2006, Slovakia beat Wales 5-1. In 2007, Wales returned the favour winning 5-2. Both won on the away.
Quite rightly, the market on this game is tight with both sides trading on the long side of EVEN money, but we're not so certain the odds makers have it right with Wales emerging as the favourites over Slovakia by such a margin. There's plenty of value to be had on your soccer picks in this matchup, but, for our money, we're leaning towards the plucky underdogs at +200 to win outright.
Soccer Picks: Slovakia to win +205
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle Sports
England vs. Russia
The Three Lions' bid to reach EURO 2008 was thwarted by Russia in qualifying. Almost seven years on, the two nations renew hostilities in the first round of Group B play at EURO 2016. Roy Hodgson's side will hope to avoid a similar result in France but they must also overcome a recent spate of poor results on the international stage. At the 2010 World Cup the Three Lions finished second in group play only to exit in the R16 (l. to Germany 4-1). At the 2012 EURO despite a top finish in group play the Three Lions went out to Italy on penalties at the first knockout hurdle. It's also worth noting in both those tournaments they opened their campaigns on draws – a 1-1 draw to USA in South Africa and a 1-1 draw to France in Donetsk. The last international outing was unmemorable with England exiting the 2014 World Cup in the group stage after finishing bottom of their group with a 0-2-1 record. That last outing saw the Three Lions open their campaign with a 2-1 defeat to Italy.
The Three Lions are conspicuously without a win in the openers of their last three major tournaments, a run of form that takes the shine off of their soccer odds. Granted Roy Hodgson's side completed a perfect qualifying campaign and, even, upset Germany in International friendly action in March, but all that will count for nothing if they don't deposit a positive campaign in France this summer. Indeed, that has us wary of backing the Three Lions to win outright at +105 soccer odds on our soccer picks. Then again, England's record in EURO is positive in that they haven't lost in 90 or 120 minutes in 22 fixtures going back to 2007 when they lost 3-2 to Croatia. The record stands at W17 and D5. That alone has us leaning ever so slightly towards the Three Lions at their tempting +105 soccer odds to win. Still, it must be said, we won't be surprised if this game does indeed result in a draw or a Russia win. It's not improbable.
Soccer Picks: England at +102
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle Sports