UEFA EURO 2016 is just around the corner, perfect time to serve up bold, early game-by-game rundown of Group E first round matchups, complete with early soccer odds and soccer picks.
Group E Preview
Belgium emerge as the favourites of Group E over one of the most successful European nations in the football arena, Italy. Although sportsbooks don't corner the section wholeheartedly in the Red Devils' camp, they are still significantly shorter on the Group Betting board priced at EVEN money while the Azzuri are priced at -163 to win Group E. That's a bit surprising all things being considered, mainly seeing as they are largely unproven in major competition.
To be fair, though, one can't ignore the remaining field either. With Sweden and Republic of Ireland also contained in this section, this is a group that many soccer bettors have down as the proverbial ‘Group of Death,' one of a few in the competition, and nothing can be taken for granted, including the market outlook currently trading. Let's discover what the EURO 2016 looks like.
Table 1: Group E Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Nation||Group Winner||To Qualify||Top 2 Finish|
|Republic of Ireland||+1069||+149||None Available|
Both Belgium and Italy won their respective qualifying groups to qualify for EURO 2016. The Red Devils went 7-2-1 all while scoring 24 goals and conceding five. The Azzuri went undefeated with a 7-3-0 mark all while scoring 16 goals and conceding 7. Sweden, meanwhile, went just 5-3-2 in qualifying and finished third in their group behind Austria and Russia. They enter the competition via a 4-3 playoff win over Denmark. Similarly, Republic of Ireland went 5-3-2 and finished third in their group behind Germany and Poland – arguably, one of the toughest qualifying groups of the entire tournament. They sealed their spot with a 3-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Table 2: Group E First Round Match Betting Odds at Pinnacle Sports
|Republic of Ireland vs. Sweden||+224||+324||+153|
|Belgium vs. Italy||+148||+225||+224|
Republic of Ireland take on Sweden in their campaign opener at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on Monday, June 13. Belgium and Italy, meanwhile, clash at the Stade de Lyon in Lyon later the same day.
Republic of Ireland vs. Sweden
Republic of Ireland are the quintessential plucky underdogs that have shown they can punch above their weight-class. What they lack in star power and depth they more than make up for with guts and glory. How far that'll take them in the competition though remains to be seen. Sweden looms as a tough opening challenge, prompting soccer odds makers to send the Boys in Green as the underdogs. Auspiciously, they're not exactly written off entirely as it's a tense soccer betting line. Wins over defending World Champions Germany and a playoff victory over Bosnia Herzegovina shows the Boys and Green are up for an upset or two.
Sweden are heavily reliant on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who scored 8 of their 15 goals in qualifying and three of their four goals in their playoff victory over Denmark. If that doesn't underscore his significance to their campaign, what does? Put another way, if Ibrahimovic isn't playing at his best, the Swedes can be rather unspectacular.
Sweden haven't lost to Republic of Ireland in competitive play yet with a W4 D2 record. In ten fixtures overall they are W5 D2 L3 (all three losses came in non-competitive play). Most recently, Sweden defeated Republic of Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers 2-1 on the away following a scoreless draw in Sweden. That improves their run of positive form to three wins and a draw in the last four competitive meetings going back to 1960.
Republic of Ireland could potentially do what they've never done before, defeat Sweden in competitive play. After all, anything is possible. That said, we can't base our soccer picks on ifs and maybes or intangibles such as Law of Averages. Consider previous trends as well as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's X-factor, the Swedes should come through. More to the point, at the generous price of +145 to win how can we not tickle those soccer odds on our soccer picks.
Soccer Picks: Sweden to win at +153
Belgium vs. Italy
There's a lot of hype surrounding Belgium going into the European championships largely down to a crop of young players that are fast becoming the nation's football glitterati. Individual star power of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku, amongst several others, does make this an impressive team on paper. But is the team as strong as the sum of its individual parts? The jury is out on that one, but we'd wager they're not quite there even though they've made significant improvements.
Teams win games not individual players and the Italians are synonymous with that statement. Defensive-minded and disciplined, Antonio Conte's side know what it takes to win championships. They're not short on star power, quality or depth either. But the team ethos and football culture they've shown historically is what has led the Italians to podium many times (four World Cups and a European Championship). Let's not forget, they were also runners-up to Spain in 2012.
For our money, we're not buying what the Belgians are selling. Instead, we like the look of the Italians, who went undefeated through qualification. While they did struggle for goals, they were one of the soundest defensively with seven goals allowed. They look to be the value soccer pick at +190 to win outright in our opinion.
Soccer Picks: Italy +224 to win
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle Sports