Euro 2020 has completed yet another absorbing, compelling stage of knockout soccer as the quarterfinals saw some more thrills and spills. The tournament now moves to the semifinals, starting Tuesday in London. Here is a quick look at both matchups as well as some value and safe Euro Cup semifinals picks for you to consider.
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Note: All Euro 2020 semifinals betting odds below are as of July 5 on Betway.
Italy vs Spain
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
When: July 6, 3 p.m. ET
How: Italy played delightful offensive soccer for the first 43 minutes of their match against Belgium, including a terrific curling goal from Lorenzo Insigne from outside the box. They conceded a late penalty in the first half, which Romelu Lukaku converted without fuss.
Having to move to game management in the second half (keeping the ball, inviting fouls and eating away at the clock), Italy showed a new side of their defense to prevent Belgium from scoring again.
The Spaniards were taken all the way to the brink by Switzerland. So much so, in fact, that the Swiss were a few composed penalties away from winning that match. Spain scored and forced a red card, which changed the dynamics of that match. A 1-1 finish after extra time brought on the luck of the shootout. That fell Spain’s way in a roller-coaster of emotions, which ensured their progress into the semis.
Key quote: “I’ve said from the outset that we are one of the seven or eight teams which, no exaggeration, could win this trophy – now we’re one of four,” Spain manager Luis Enrique said.
“That was the most tranquil penalty shootout I’ve ever been through because we’d done all our homework, all our practice, and there was nothing left for the staff and me to do. Win or lose on penalties, the team would have done excellently for my judgment. For how they’ve handled this, how they’ve played, how they’ve represented Spain.”
Fun fact: This is Spain’s third appearance in the semifinal at the Euro Cup in the last four editions. Spain went on to win both previous competitions when they made the semifinal, in 2008 and 2012. Spain only failed to make the semis in Euro 2016.
Quick analysis: Italy will not change their style of soccer against Spain. They will continue to press high up the pitch and test Unai Simon. No other team has taken as many shots on goal as Italy in Euro 2020. That is sufficient evidence to suggest that their final third is settled. However, after an energy-sapping performance against Belgium, will their offense continue to be watertight against a strong Spain team?
Spain have retained the ball better than any other team at Euro 2020. That is evident from the way they play as well as their statistical returns. They have shown a propensity to frustrate opponents with continuous, sharp passing defensively and then attempt a surprise lob pass into the final third. Italy will have to do without Leonardo Spinazzola, who has been ruled out of the tournament. There could be a gaping hole there for Spain to exploit.
Stat to note: Spain lost their first four matches at Wembley Stadium, dating back to the period between 1955 and 1968. In five matches since then, Spain have lost only one match, in penalties against England in Euro 1996.
Value Pick: Italy total cards: OVER 2.5 (+162)
These teams have picked up five yellow cards each at this Euro 2020. However, the Spaniards are probably the more disciplined of the two teams based on their passing accuracy.
Italy can occasionally be a bit eager after being dispossessed of the ball, which will be lethal against this Spain team. The Italians have committed 55 fouls at Euro 2020, third most at the tournament. Some of these fouls were against less superior teams. The Spaniards are not less superior in this matchup.
Safe Pick: OVER 8.5 corners (-175)
Both these teams rank inside the top five in terms of corners taken at Euro 2020. The Spaniards lead the tournament with 41 corners taken, while the Italians are fifth in the competition with 27 corners taken. Let’s do some quick math here. Between both these teams in this tournament, a total of 68 corners have been taken in five matches apiece.
That equates to a combined average of over 13 total corners per match. Factoring in that some of these matches have been against lesser opponents, with due respect, we could reduce the expected corners by at least 20 percent. Still, the math suggests a total of OVER 8.5 corners on Tuesday.
England vs Denmark
Where: Wembley Stadium, London
When: July 7, 3 p.m. ET
How: England continued their astonishing run at Euro 2020 with arguably their most complete performance at the tournament. They thrashed Ukraine 4-0 with as little hassle as possible to ensure they will have their home fans available for the rest of the tournament. More importantly, England’s offense found some creativity and fluency, albeit primarily in aerial battles. The English kept their fifth straight clean sheet in that win.
Denmark recorded their third straight win to complete a stunning turnaround after starting the tournament with two successive losses. They beat Wales 4-0 in the Round of 16 before a 2-1 win against Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. That was not as complete a performance as the Wales win but there is plenty of confidence and value to be derived from a scrappy win as well.
Key quote: “We didn’t want to take a backward step. We wanted to really grasp the opportunity rather than hope we might win or let fate have a chance to play its part. Teams have to go on a bit of a journey and they have to go through some pain sometimes to be able to progress,” England coach Gareth Southgate said.
“We’ve had some great nights over the last four years but we’ve also had some painful nights and we’ve learned from all of those experiences and that has definitely helped us prepare for another tournament and prepare for the individual games.”
Fun fact: Excluding own goals, seven different players have scored goals at Euro 2020 for Denmark. The only time more players have scored at a single edition of the European Championship was back in 2012 when eight different players scored for Germany.
Quick analysis: The English hold all the cards in this one. They are back home in front of wild support, their defense has yet to let up even once and their offense has finally found some more dynamism. Harry Kane has scored goals as well, which will compound Denmark’s problems.
England will understandably start as huge favorites to advance but Denmark can throw a spanner in the works by remaining compact defensively and then taking any chance they receive on the counterattack. Like the Swiss have already shown, take a knockout match to an unpredictable penalty shootout and anything can ensue.
Stat to note: No team has kept a clean sheet for six straight matches in a major international tournament – World Cup or European Championship. The English have now kept five clean sheets in succession.
Value Pick: Handicap 3-way: England -1.5 (+200)
This is the same market that would have netted you a handy profit in the quarterfinal against Ukraine. While a 4-0 result was hard to predict, which would have resulted in a winning bet for a handicap of England -3.5, a simpler handicap of England winning by two or more goals was certainly not implausible.
That is the exact same case in this match as well. England are now dangerous on both ends of the pitch, particularly with a strong bench and an opposing team whose manager conceded that they were a bit tired after their win against Czech Republic. Even if the handicap is not covered in the first 60 minutes, it could be quickly made up.
Safe Pick: England total goals: OVER 1.5 (-106)
Granted, England have not had a terrific tournament in the final third yet. However, they have suddenly been brought to life after Raheem Sterling opened the scoring against Germany in the closing stages.
They have scored six goals in the last three halves of soccer in this tournament. That rate is hard to stay abreast with but there is no reason why England should fail to score two goals in front of thousands of cheering supporters in London.
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Odds Shark Staff Tue, Mar 1, 12:43pm