As UEFA EURO 2016 fast approaches, we bring you an early game-by-game rundown of Group C first round matchups, complete with early soccer odds and soccer picks.
Group C Preview
No surprises to be had in this section which nation is the runaway favourite: Germany, World Cup 2014 Champions. Die Mannschaft are matched as the overwhelming favourites to win Group C, priced at -300 soccer odds or thereabouts depending on your choice sportsbooks. They are also heavy -800 favourites to qualify for the knockouts and, even, more so to finish in the Top 2 at -1400 soccer odds. A EURO 2016 knockout round without Germany participating in it is in no uncertain terms an unlikely outcome.
Yet, it's not as straightforward of a group as Joachim Low would have liked. Germany were drawn into Group C with Poland, Ukraine and Northern Ireland. Poland were part of the same qualifying group with Germany and, more importantly, recorded the upset when they defeated Germany 2-0 in Warsaw en route to a runner-up finish in the section, just a point behind the World Champions. Ukraine and Northern Ireland won't be pushovers either. Where the latter is concerned, they are making their EURO debut but let that not take anything away from the Green and White Army. They'll certainly fancy their chances for advancement, if not through a top two finish they could secure advancement into the knockouts with a third place finish. The expanded tournament from 16 to 24 participating nations allows for four of the best third-placed teams to enter the last 16.
Here's an overview of Group C betting odds according to Pinnacle.
Table 1: Group C Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Nation||Group Winner||To Qualify||Top 2 Finish|
|Northern Ireland||+3000||+247||None Available|
If Group C Betting Odds were any indication the battle in this section is going to feature Poland and Ukraine for a spot inside the top two spots. The pair are nestled delicately on -120 and -110 soccer odds to accomplish the feat. Northern Ireland are trading large at +700 to secure direct advancement into the knockouts, but they are merely priced at +275 soccer odds to qualify for the knockouts, which just underscores the fact that they have everything to play for in what is largely being dubbed as one of several ‘Group of Death' sections.
Table 2: Group C First Round Match Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Poland vs. Northern Ireland||-135||+267||+480|
|Germany vs. Ukraine||-192||+333||+643|
Poland open their campaign against Northern Ireland on Sunday, June 12, 2016 at the Stade de Nice in Nice. While Germany open their campaign against Ukraine on Sunday, June 12, 2016 at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille Métropole.
Poland vs. Northern Ireland
Poland put in a prolific qualifying campaign for EURO 2016 Winner in what was a rather tough group that contained Germany, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Georgia and Gibraltar. En route to a second-place finish they scored 33 goals and conceded 10. Although 23 of those goals scored came against the section's minnows Georgia and Gibraltar combined, they still managed to defeat Germany 2-0 in Warsaw which is nothing to wrinkle your nose at.
If there's a cloud to be had over Polska it's the fact that they are yet to get through to the knockouts of EUROs having failed to do so in two successive appearances (2008 and 2012). On to their third straight appearance, Polska hope to get off to a flying start against Northern Ireland but historical trends suggest this might be a tougher matchup than the odds makers would have it. As such, we're not so sure Polska deserve to be such overwhelming favourites at -120 soccer odds to win outright.
Form coming into the finals though is quite encouraging for Polska as on the heels of their qualifying campaign they reeled off four straight wins in friendly action, beating Iceland, Czech Republic, Serbia and Finland all while displaying their prolific scoring ways scoring 13 goals and conceding just three.
Northern Ireland qualified from a relatively straightforward group with a top spot finish behind a 6-3-1 record and scoring 16 goals and conceding 8. They finished a point ahead of Romania and five points ahead of Hungary – a pair of nations that also qualify for EURO 2016 this summer.
Defensively organised and technically talented the Green and White Army are dangerous floaters in this section that could rise to the occasion against superior opponents. Northern Ireland's record in competitive matches against Poland is W3 D1 L2. The key to winning this game or gaining a draw will be thwarting Robert Lewandowski – the Bayern Munich striker was top scorer with 13 goals in qualifying. Consider Polska's defence can be shaky at times, the Green and White Army look disingenuously priced as the +350 underdogs in their group opener.
It's our opinion that this matchup could be more interesting than the odds makers would have it. Fact is although Poland's qualifying campaign was stellar they've yet to prove their merit at a major tournament. Northern Ireland won't be intimidated as much as they might be facing Germany. What's more, the Green and White Army are undefeated in the last two meetings between these two nations – a 3-2 win and a 1-1 draw in a couple of World Cup qualifying clashes in 2009. Granted it's been several years since they've met, but it's enough to have us leaning towards several alternative plays to bet. Perhaps, controversially so. Northern Ireland to win or draw is a tempting +105 soccer pick while Northern Ireland draw no bet is trading at +240 soccer odds. Either one of those options appeals more to us than the match betting odds.
Soccer Picks: Northern Ireland to win or draw at +480 or Northern Ireland draw no bet at +267
Germany vs. Ukraine
Expectations are high on Joachim Low and his lads as they enter their first major tournament since being crowned World Champions. They might have fallen slightly in market estimation following the draw in December, but they are still amongst the top favourites to triumph in France. They have a tradition of success, particularly in the group stage of major competitions and overwhelmingly that trend is expected to continue. Of course, Ukraine can't be underestimated. A couple of narrow defeats to Spain in qualifying proves they can hold their own against superior teams. While we can't dismiss the Ukrainians out of hand, no side comes into a major tournament as well prepared and ruthlessly efficient as Die Mannschaft. It's hard to look beyond a winning performance by Germany in their group opener and, quite frankly, the -200 price tag is a fair price for your soccer picks all things being considered.
Soccer Picks: Germany to win at -192
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle Sports