Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – Slovakia v England
England secured a win from a losing half-time position for the first time at a major tournament as they came from behind to beat Wales 2-1 in Lens.
Slovakia v England, Monday 20th June (20.00), TV3 & ITV 1
And now the Three Lions know victory over Slovakia in Saint-Etienne on Monday will secure top spot in Group B.
Daniel Sturridge scored the injury-time winner against the Dragons but it could have been a very different story for Roy Hodgson’s side, who were jeered off at the break.
With England’s campaign – and arguably Hodgson’s future – on the line, he gambled by introducing Jamie Vardy and Sturridge for the struggling Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane.
Gamble Pays Off
The roll of the dice worked as Vardy scrambled in an equaliser before constant England pressure saw Sturridge land the decisive blow late on. Hodgson needed to be positive and inspirational – qualities his detractors have accused him of lacking in the past – but here it came off.
It was all-out attack in the second-half from the Three Lions and the momentum shifted almost instantly with virtual England domination. It was not scientific – more a question of throwing everything at it and see what happens – but the desired result was achieved.
England are now unbeaten in their last nine games at the European Championships (excluding penalty shoot-outs) and haven’t lost in this competition since June 2004 (W5-D4-L0). But there remains a concern over the Three Lions’ profligate finishing and poor defending.
England have had 21 more shots than their opponents over their first two Group B games and only managed to boast a +1 goal difference.
And the pre-match favourites have only twice shutout their opponents in nine matches now – one of which came against 10-man Portugal minus Cristiano Ronaldo and the other when France pitched up at Wembley just days after the terrible terrorist attacks on Paris.
With six of England’s last seven matches featuring winning Both Teams To Score bets as well as the first four Group B games…
a repeat looks a real runner at 11/10, knowing what Slovakia are capable of.
Just Deserts For Slovaks
Slovakia’s defeat against Wales in their opening game was their first in 10 fixtures and in truth they were probably unfortunate to have lost as they dominated possession and also enjoyed more attempts on goal.
Against Russia, the Repre got their just deserts as Marek Hamsik scored a stunner whilst also creating the first for Vladimir Weiss in a 2-1 victory.
Denis Glushakov’s consolation failed to take the gloss off an admirable defensive display with Slovakia often dangerous on the counter-attack.
Jan Kozak’s side are a little reliant on Hamsik’s magic but 20 of their 22 attempts at Euro 2016 have seen Hamsik, Weiss or Robert Mak involved, either as the shot taker or shot assister, proving they’re more than just a one man team.
Since Euro 2012, Slovakia have scored 22 (73%) of their 30 competitive goals before half-time and knowing England are struggling for stability, it might be wise to put our faith in a punt on the Repre netting a first-half goal at 21/10.
Meanwhile, Over 2.5 Goals is also worth consideration since the final group games at European Championships since 1992 have seen Over 2.5 Goals land in 59% of matches – as opposed to 36% in the first and second matches.
But with England failing to win by more than a one-goal margin at a major tournament since the 2006 World Cup, backing the Three Lions to win 2-1 at 8/1 is well worth a wee wager as it fits the trends nicely.
Both Teams To Score (11/10)
Half of first home goal – first-half (9/4)
England to win 2-1 (8/1)
*Prices correct at time of publication.