With UEFA EURO 2016 around the corner, we bring you an early game-by-game rundown of Group D first round matchups, complete with early soccer odds and soccer picks.
Group D Preview
Two-time defending champions Spain enter Group D as the firm favourites to win at -175, but there are those soccer bettors that would dub their section as the ‘Group of Death', presenting several challenging obstacles to La Furia Roja's bid for an unprecedented third straight EURO title. Indeed, there is no real minnow in this section: Czech Republic and Turkey are notorious dangerous floaters on the European stage, often underrated in sportsbooks when pit against superior opponents. Equally so Croatia, who could prove problematic for the rest of the field with a dynamic central midfield trio that features Barcelona's Ivan Ratkic and Real Madrid's Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic. As such, there could be drama aplenty in this section and it wouldn't be surprising if it comes down to the wire and decided narrowly. Let's discover what the EURO 2016 looks like.
Table 1: Group D Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Nation||Group Winner||To Qualify||Top 2 Finish|
|Czech Republic||+767||-119||None Available|
Predictably, the market outlook is firmly in Spain's camp. As it should be with La Furia Roja gunning for a third straight title. They are deserved favourites to win the group at -175 as well an almost certain bet to qualify at -1600 and at -700 to finish inside the Top 2. However, the rest of the field is priced so tightly particularly in the battle for a Top 2 finish, which means nothing can be taken for granted in this section and the premium on an opening win becomes that much greater.
Table 2: Group D First Round Match Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Turkey vs. Croatia||+258||+230||+128|
|Spain vs. Czech Republic||-188||+324||+647|
Croatia open their bid against Turkey on Sunday, June 12 at the Parc des Princes in Paris. The following day, Spain open their title defence campaign against Czech Republic at the Stade de Toulouse in Toulouse.
Croatia vs. Turkey
Croatia and Turkey are set to reprise their rivalry in their group D opener. The last time these two nations met was in the 2012 EURO playoffs, in which Croatia eliminated Turkey out of the competition with a 3-0 score on aggregate over two legs. You can bet Turkey will be looking to avenge that defeat at the grand setting of the Parc des Princes.
For Croatia it was par for the course then. Turkey had upset Croatia four years prior to advance into the 2008 EURO semi-finals, winning the penalty shootout after the game settled on a 1-1 draw. Indeed, Turkey enjoyed a Cinderella run at that tournament, finishing second behind Portugal in a tough group that included Czech Republic and co-hosts Switzerland with a 2-0-1 record. Following the win over Croatia they were pit against Germany in the semis only to lose narrowly 3-2. Ironically, in that same tournament, Croatia defied the soccer odds too by finishing top of the group with a perfect 3-0-0 record, ahead of Germany (eventual runners-up to Spain).
Thanks to Croatia, Turkey missed EURO 2012. Croatia made their appearance instead but failed to advance into the knockouts. Unluckily, they were drawn into a similar ‘Group of Death' then with Spain, Italy and Republic of Ireland and narrowly missed the knockouts with a 1-1-1 mark. Their only loss came to Spain, a 1-0 defeat that saw them finish third behind Italy by just a point.
Both Croatia and Turkey put in commendable accounts in qualifying – the former held Italy to a 1-1 draw twice while the latter defeated Netherlands and Czech Republic as well as holding Netherlands to a draw on the away.
Although both sides are trading on the long side of EVEN money, Turkey look to be disadvantaged quite significantly at odds of +280 to win outright. Heck, even the draw is priced high at +210. Given the history of both these teams it doesn't seem right at all, making both options look pretty generous. While Turkey are yet to defeat Croatia in regular time or extra time in six previous meetings, they can be optimistic with their record that includes four draws and just two losses. Similarly, Croatia can be optimistic about their undefeated record against Turkey in regular and extra time and stands at W2 D4. It wouldn't surprise us if these two sides cancel each other out in the first round with a draw.
Soccer Picks: Draw at +230 or Turkey Draw no bet at +128
Spain vs. Czech Republic
Spain are clear-cut favourites and great soccer picks to win outright at -200 at the expense of the Czech Republic. At face value, the market outlook makes perfect sense. La Furia Roja are the two-time champions and one of the top three favourites in the competition proper –after France and Germany – to lift the Henri Delaunay trophy. Yet, Czech Republic are severely underestimated at +650 soccer odds, too much so for our taste which has us thinking there could be a value play here.
Czech Republic were quarterfinalists in 2012 (l to Portugal 1-0) and they continued their strong European pedigree by upsetting the odds in qualifying when they won Group A at the expense of group favourites Netherlands. The Czechs went 7-1-2 in qualifying all while scoring 19 goals and conceding 14. Most impressively, the defeated the Netherlands 3-2 in Amsterdam, showing they can take the measure of superior teams even under more difficult away conditions. Indeed, the Spaniards lost to the Dutch in friendly action last year 2-0 in Amsterdam.
Nevertheless, Spain is going to be a tough ask for Pavel Vrba's team. Since La Furia Roja's ignominious World Cup account and wobbly start to EURO qualifying ( 2-1 loss to Slovakia), Vincente del Bosque's side all of a sudden hit a rich vein of form and reeled off eight straight wins to finish top of their group. With confidence peeking at the right time and something to prove on the international stage the Spanish side will be eager to get off to a flying start and exorcise those World Cup demons. For the Czech Republic and their bid to reach the knockouts, it's a bit of an advantage to get this matchup out of the way first. It would be a much tougher ask if this was the group decider. As such, they'll be happy with the draw even, which can be backed at +275. However, if they lose to the Spaniards, they'll still fancy their chances better against Turkey in the second round and against Croatia in the decider.
Soccer Picks: Spain to win at -188
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle Sports