The Euro Cup is only three days old, and I must say I have been impressed with the quality of games and the fight that each team has put up. I'm hoping the trend of goal scoring continues in these games and we are able to avoid the first stale nil-nil draw of the tournament. For all the positives of the tournament so far, soccer is such a cruel sport.
As any England fan would attest to, you can put in work for 90 minutes and get a minute away from a vital three points when it all falls apart in the third minute of second-half stoppage time. While I am pissed off at them for blowing my bet, betting on England at any point in life is like playing with fire. Always destined for disappointment.
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What could have been a great 3-0 start to the tournament quickly turned into a 2-1 start and left me wanting more. Poland outplayed Northern Ireland and secured the 1-0 win. Wales and Slovakia played a solid game; there should have been at least four or five goals. Gareth Bale came to play.
Looking forward to Tuesday, only Group F is in action, which leaves us with two games to choose from.
As always, odds are courtesy of our friends at Bovada.
Portugal vs. Iceland
On paper, this looks like it's going to be a one-sided affair with Portugal dominating possession and scoring chances. I think that is the most likely scenario, which means I am going to take a shot with Portugal to record a shutout win. The odds sit at +110, which is far better than laying -180 for them to win a game they will probably be very much in control of.
I watched both team's final warm up games before Euro kicked off, and Portugal looked like an offensive powerhouse. They played Estonia, which doesn't mean much, but they looked like a team that was gelling well and feeding off of each other. Ricardo Quaresma had a hell of a game, scoring two and assisting on another.
What I was most looking for was how the defense would fare, and Pepe and his center-back partner passed the eye test. Once again, Estonia is a minnow and the result can't be taken too serious, but the movement and communication is what really impressed me.
Iceland loves to play defensive football and attack on the counter. The problem with that is they don't have many very good attacking players, which leads me to believe Pepe (who plays against the best players in the world at Real Madrid) will be able to contain Iceland's main man, Gylfi Sigurdsson.
This will be Iceland's first major tournament game, and I believe they will be undone by the pressure and lights surrounding the match. Iceland's best chance of qualification from this group would have been to avoid playing Portugal in the first game and easing into the tournament and securing a point or three against one of the other small nations that comprise group F.
Pick: Portugal to WIN & record a shutout (+110)
Austria vs. Hungary
This game has all the makings of being one of the worst games in the group stage. It might earn the title of having the lowest TV ratings as well. But somehow these teams both made the Euros and will get their time in the spotlight.
Austria was the far better team in qualifying. They boasted a 9-0-1 record, with all nine of their wins coming in succession. During their recent friendlies however, that form has dipped drastically with losses to Holland, Turkey and Switzerland. Their only two friendly wins came against Albania and Malta. Not something to hang your hat upon.
Hungary, on the other hand, comes into this game after a few uninspired friendly matches which saw them score only one goal in the three games. Albeit that one was against Germany, but that Germany lineup was very weak.
The only way to play this game is to bank on Austria keeping a clean sheet and skip watching it entirely. During qualifying, Hungary was only able to net 11 goals in 10 games. If things don't go their way in St. Etienne, they will be hard pressed to find the back of the net against an Austrian outfit that conceded only five in qualifying.
Austria will have the best player on the pitch in David Alaba, and his big-game experience should be able to settle his squad down and help them focus on the task at hand.
Austria knows that these three points will go a very long way in order to secure passage to the knockout stage.
Pick: Austria to record a shutout (-110)
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