UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifying Soccer Picks: Spain vs. Ukraine

Nikki Adams

Friday, March 27, 2015 12:40 PM GMT

Two-time defending champions Spain host Ukraine in EURO 2016 Qualifying action on Friday at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan. The hosts are significantly favored in this game, but coming through on those favorable soccer odds isn't going to be as straightforward as the odds makers would suggest.

EURO 2016 Qualifying: Group C Standings
Four games into the qualifying campaign and Spain, shockingly, trail Slovakia in Group C. What's more, they are level on points with Ukraine, but ahead only by goal differential (Spain are a plus 10 while Ukraine are a plus 5).

The defending champions boast a 3-0-1 record and 9 points in group C, marred by their 2-1 defeat to Slovakia in Zilina last October that gave the Slovaks command of the section. Ukraine, meanwhile, are also sitting pretty on a 3-0-1 record and 9 points and, ironically, they also lost to Slovakia 1-0 at home.

Although few soccer bettors might have expected the Slovaks to come out of the gates with such verve and swagger, it's early days yet. There's a long way to go before qualifying wraps up. Obviously, the makeup of Group C can change. If Spain or Ukraine are to advance their bid for a top spot, they'll need to keep close to Slovakia. In other words, winning this game can be potentially group-deciding.  

Spain Significant Faves
Predictably, Spain enter this game as the hot favorites to win outright at -333 on the EURO 2016 Qualifying odds board. This market cast has a lot to do with La Roja's reputation and title winning credentials. After all, they won three straight titles on the international stage (EURO 2008, World Cup 2010 and EURO 2012) before bowing out of the 2014 World Cup prematurely and that has to count for something in soccer betting exchanges.  Still, there are those soccer bettors that aren't buying into that reputation anymore; so-called prognosticators of Spain's demise in world soccer, conveniently highlighted by La Roja's rather gruesome account in Brazil last summer.

This market is also underscored by home advantage: La Roja is undefeated at home in this campaign, having beaten Macedonia and Belarus by a combined score of 8-1. They are also riding a 14-game winning streak at home in European Qualification; their last loss dates back to 2003 when they lost to Greece 1-0. During that run of form, they've scored a mind-blowing 37 goals and conceded a paltry 7 goals. One of those wins also included a 2-1 win over Ukraine in qualification for EURO 2004. 

Ukraine Dangerous Underdogs
Ukraine soccer is coming off an impressive week in European club competition with both Dynamo Kiev and Dnipro advancing into the last 8 of UEFA Europa League. Domestic fans will hope they'll have something more to cheer about this weekend when their side takes on one of the best sides in European soccer this side of the decade.

Soccer odds makers send Ukraine into this game as the whopping +1200 underdogs, which may seem disingenuous considering the great strides they've made on the European front in recent weeks. Still, this is more a reflection of La Roja's standard of excellence at home rather than a slight towards the Ukrainians.

Reality is the Ukrainians will have all to do in Sevilla on Friday if they hope to mastermind the upset. They have the skill and quality to pull off the feat, but matches such as these don't come down to intangibles alone. Confidence is going to be key for Ukraine.

Their qualifying campaign this season is off to a promising start, save for the hiccup against Slovakia. They had easy road trips to Belarus and Luxembourg so far winning both without conceding a goal (5-0 combined).That said, in their last seven away qualifying games in Europe they are only 3-1-3. What's glaringly absent in their account so far is a truly signature win, a win over an established European heavyweight such as Italy, France, Spain. Against this triplet, Ukraine is 0-3 and 1-6 on the scoreboard.

Soccer Betting Verdict:
There's a lot to like about the Ukrainians, but backing them for the upset +1200 is a long shot for your soccer picks. Heck, even the draw at +450 soccer odds is a bit of a stretch. Spain are the obvious favorites in this game and it comes as no surprise that they have the soccer betting market cornered on -333 soccer odds. Frankly, it will be a shocker if they don't come through this game with the "W" secured when all is said and done. Take Spain on your soccer picks at -333 to win at home and the Over 2.5 at -125 soccer odds.

Soccer Picks: Spain to win outright at -333

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