2016 Euro Cup: France vs Iceland Betting

iceland-france-bettingIceland has had a magical run through the 2016 Euro Cup that began with a 1-1 tie against heavily favored Portugal, and has most recently seen them beat England 2-1. The big question, though, is if this tiny nation of 323,000 can continue slaying the giants.

France has looked solid on their home soil, but not overly impressive. They beat Romania and Albania, as expected, before drawing with Switzerland. Didier Deschamps’ team beat Iceland to advance to the quarterfinals, finally showing their talent in the second half.

Once again, Iceland finds themselves an underdog to a larger nation. Do they have another upset in them? Or is the host nation going to stomp Iceland thanks to their talent and home-field advantage?

Find out as we cover this match along with which team you should bet on.

France vs Iceland (3:00pm EST on July 3)
GTBets.eu Moneyline
Iceland  +700
France  -222
Draw +340

GTBets.eu Spread
Iceland -0.5 (-154)
France -0.5 (+125)

France vs Iceland Overview

The key for France will be carrying the momentum forward that they gained in Lyon against a tough Irish team. After falling behind 1-0 in the first half, Les Bleus mustered two goals to come back and win.

france-ireland-euroFrance has gotten by with mediocre efforts, turning it on occasionally like they did against Ireland. But Iceland is playing out of their minds and will force the French to turn it up a notch if they want to advance. France will deal with a handicap, though since Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante are suspended for this match.

As for Iceland, they’ve been doubted all along the way since many didn’t expect them to advance from group play. The doubts grew even larger when they faced a powerful English team in the quarterfinals. As you can see from our betting line, the doubters are in just as great of force in the semifinals.

But despite the naysayers, this is no longer a dream for Iceland. They are here in the quarterfinals with a real chance to win if things go well. Their defense has been stout, and they’ve also managed to score in every Euro match. If they can put it all together, like they did against England, then the Icelanders have a chance to reach the final four.

Key Matchups

The key player for France is defender Samuel Umtiti, who needs to step up for the suspended Rami. Along with Laurent Koscienlny, Umtiti is key to shutting down an Icelandic team that’s surprised people with their offense.

iceland-france-betting-1And this effort starts with controlling Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, who heads Iceland’s offensive attack. Sigthorsson isn’t the most-heralded striker in the tournament, but he can be dangerous when not given proper attention. If Umtiti doesn’t stand out in his first major international debut, then Sigthorsson has a chance to net Iceland a goal.

One more key matchup will take place between center back Ragnar Sigurdsson and forward Olivier Giroud. Sigurdsson has been Iceland’s star, rarely making a mistake in this tourney. But Giroud will prove an extremely tough matchup, given his 6’4″ frame and strength. If Sigurdsson can continue his magnificence against the bigger Giroud, then Iceland could move on.

Breakout Performers: Olivier Giroud and Aron Gunnarsson

olivier-giroudGiroud didn’t score against Ireland, but the Arsenal striker was key to getting France solid shots. He also provided Antoine Griezmann with one of his two goals, making him a passing and scoring threat. With France likely to stay in the 4-2-3-1 formation that they successfully used against Ireland in the second half, Giroud will be working alongside Griezmann again.

Aron Gunnarsson, who captains Iceland, will be key to Iceland’s offensive and defensive efforts. Playing with an injury, the midfielder has shown his toughness by playing 90 minutes in three of Iceland’s Euro matches. Gunnarsson’s passion and work ethic will not only be important to his team’s game plan, but also in motivating the other players.

Prediction on France vs Iceland

Iceland has made it this far with a strong defensive effort coupled with well-timed counters. And their effort has been incredible since they’ve managed to outwork every team they’ve played. But at some point, it seems that this dream has to end, given that Iceland doesn’t possess the all-around talent that other remaining Euro teams have. This end will probably come against France, even if we’d love to see a great story continue.

Final Score Prediction: France wins 3-1
Betting Advice: We see three good bets here: France on the spread (+125), a draw (+340), and Iceland on the moneyline (+700). The dream probably likely ends here for the Icelanders, but we think that +700 is good value on the moneyline.

2016 Euro Cup: Germany vs Italy Betting

spain-italy-euro-bettingSaturday will renew one of the greatest rivalries in sports, as Italy faces Germany. Only…this rivalry has been a little one-sided over the years.

Eight times these teams have met in a major international tournament, and Germany hasn’t won a single match. But that could very well change this year since the high-powered Germans boast one of the top five teams in the world.

They’ve done little to provide doubts in the 2016 Euro Cup, posting a 3-1-0 record, with a 3-0 drubbing of Slovakia in their last outing.

Italy came into this tournament with the billing of having their least-talented Euro team in 50 years. They’ve shaken this notion, though, especially with their 2-0 victory over Spain in the round of 16, and a 2-0 win over Belgium in group play.

Both teams have impressive credentials, making this a tough match to call. If you’re looking for some betting advice, keep reading as we break down this matchup.

Germany and Italy (3:00pm EST at July 2)
GTBets.eu Moneyline
Italy +285
Germany +120
Draw +200

GTBets.eu Spread
Italy  -0.5 (-143)
Germany  -0.5 (+115)

Why Italy Will Win

Even after impressive wins over Belgium and Spain, nobody is arguing that Italy has more talent. But everybody is harping on the history of this matchup, with Italy being the winner on every occasion.

Some of these include triumphant wins, such as Italy’s 3-1 victory in the 1982 World Cup Final, and, more recently, another victory against Germany in a 2006 World Cup semifinal.

Of course, it takes more than history to win a match of this magnitude. Italy will rely on the defensive talents of Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli, and Leonardo Bonucci to stop the German attack. This is well within reach of this group too, considering that they shut down the Spanish and Belgians.

Coach Antonio Conte is also a key part of this effort. He’s shown brilliant tactical plans that highlight the Italians strengths and hide their weaknesses. Conte’s most-recent plan pressed the Spaniards and negated their ability to play out of the back. Forward Graziano Pellè stayed glued to Spanish playmaker Sergio Busquets, preventing Spain from doing much of anything on offense.

Even if we ignore history, Italy has proven that they’re far better than what anybody expected heading into the 2016 Euro Cup. And that gives them a legitimate chance to win this match.

Why German Will Win

How can this German squad erase a tortured history against the Italians? For starters, they have the better on-field talent. Manger Joachim Low has a number of options in his front side, meaning he can tweak his lineup whenever the situation requires.

spain-italy-euro-betting-1This deep, talented squad was in good form against Slovakia, as Jerome Boateng, Julian Draxler, and Mario Gomez all scored goals. The 6’3″ Gomez is the focal point of this attack, while Thomas Müller and Mesut Özil provide nice offensive support.

In the end, this could come down to a battle of wills between Italy’s defense and Germany’s offense. As mentioned before, the Italians have been exceptional in the backline, holding two top-10 teams scoreless.

But Germany’s front unit is more experienced, deeper, and more talented. This should help them win the possession battle and keep pressure on Italy. If Germany can score twice, this match is over.

Prediction on Germany vs Italy

spain-italy-euro-betting-2Making the quarterfinals of Euro 2016 is nothing out of the ordinary for an Italian squad. But after mastering a tougher-than-expected group and thumping Spain, Italy has gotten the world’s attention. This is a stalwart defensive unit that’s very efficient on counters. But in the end, Germany is too big, too experienced, and too good to not advance. Look for the Germans to end their losing streak against the Italians.

Final Score Prediction: Germany wins 2-1
Betting Advice: While Germany has the firepower to win, we like Italy’s moneyline (+285) or a regulation draw (+200).

2016 Euro Cup: Wales vs Belgium Betting

BelgiumWales has moved into the 2016 Euro Cup’s final eight by beating Northern Ireland 1-0. This means that Gareth Bale and company’s only loss so far is a 2-1 match against England.

Their opponent, Belgium, has also lost just once, dropping their first Euro Cup group play match to Italy by a score of 2-0. Since then, the Belgians have looked more and more impressive, crushing Hungary 4-0 in their round of 16 match.

Will this be the fate of Wales as well? Or can they pull off the upset?

Find out as we cover Friday’s matchup between these teams, and discuss who you should bet on.

Belgium vs Wales (3:00pm EST at July 1)
GTBets.eu Moneyline
Belgium  -125
Wales  +390
Draw  +240

GTBets.eu Spread
Belgium  -0.5 (-125)
Wales  -0.5 (+100)

Belgium vs Wales Overview

wales-euro-cup-bettingRanked behind both England and Northern Ireland in the FIFA rankings, few expected Wales to be the last-remaining British nation left in the Euro Cup. But here they are, riding the high of two straight victories and looking to advance to the final four.

Confidence won’t be an issue for Wales because they beat Belgium last year in qualifiers. And Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen have formed an impressive three-star rotation that’s putting the ball in the net. Wales looks as good as ever, meaning they have a chance to pull off this win.

But Belgium is also living up to lofty expectations, thanks in large part to defensive efforts by Thomas Vermaelen. Unfortunately, he won’t be available against Wales due to a suspension. The Belgians will rely on midfielders Axel Witsel and Radja Nainggolan to help maintain possession and keep Wales out of their backfield.

Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne have also played well in this tourney, but they need more out of Romelu Lukaku and Dries Mertens, both of whom have been inconsistent lately.

Key Matchups

belgium-euro-cup-bettingAfter scoring two goals against Ireland, Lukaku hasn’t done much. But he’s a big forward who proves a tough matchup for Wales’ backline. Ashley Williams will be part of the backline trying to stop Lukaku and prevent him from doing damage.

Another important matchup will take place between Nainggolan and the Welsh midfielder Allen. The latter is key to Wales’ total effort, making solid passes and key tackles. But if Nainggolan can slow him down and disrupt Wales’ attack, then Belgium has a great chance of keeping the Welsh out of the net.

Breakout Performers: Joe Ledley and Kevin De Bruyne

Lost in the Welsh victory over Northern Ireland is that Ledley didn’t have a fantastic match. But he has a good chance to step up against the offensive-geared Belgian side and make some plays. We see him making big tackles and ruining some of the things that Belgium wants to do.

It’s been three matches since the Belgians last scored a goal on Wales. Don’t expect them to play reserved on Friday, as they’ll be looking to end this scoreless streak. This flow will favor Kevin De Bruyne, who’ll likely be playing a freer role. The Manchester City man could either score himself or create a goal for somebody else if the gameplan goes his way.

Prediction on Belgium vs Wales

Wales knows that they can play with Belgium, having done so last year. They also have three excellent players in Bale, Ramsey and Allen, who can provide the firepower needed to take down Belgium. But the Belgian side hasn’t even shown what they’re capable of yet in the tournament. While we expect Wales to provide resistance, Belgium might have a date with destiny in the finals.

Final Score Prediction: Belgium wins 2-1
Betting Advice: This is a tough one. We like Belgium on the spread, but Wales is offering good value on the moneyline.


2016 Euro Cup: England vs Iceland

iceland-england-bettingThe biggest surprise of the 2016 European Championships so far is Iceland. The small nation of 323,000 played to draws with Portugal and Hungary, before beating Austria to advance.

Iceland’s improbable run set off a huge celebration in the country. But now it’s back to business as they face a powerful English squad that, as always, has their eyes set on the Euro title.

England didn’t have a dream group play round, playing to draws with Russia and Slovakia, before getting a 2-1 win over Wales to advance. But the key is that they’re here now and heavily favored to beat Iceland.

Will things play out the way that they look on paper? Or do the Icelanders have another surprise ready? Find out as we cover this matchup and discuss which team you should bet on.

England vs Iceland (3:00pm EST at June 27)
GTBets.eu Moneyline
Iceland +650
England -182
Draw +270

GTBets.eu Spread
Iceland -0.5 (+145)
England +0.5 (-182)

England vs Iceland Overview

daniel-sturridge-englandThe final scores of England’s games don’t necessarily reflect how well they played. The British dominated all three foes, but made a few tactical errors that prevented these matches from being more impressive than they were.

Does this guarantee anything against Iceland? No, but these underwhelming performances show that the English have another gear that they’ve yet to unlock.

For Iceland, one major challenge is believing that they belong on this stage. As Ronaldo complained after his Portugal team played them, Iceland celebrated like they won the 2016 Euro. The team has now had a week to get over their incredible achievement and focus on an even tougher task at hand: beating England.

Key Matchups

Iceland will likely take a defensive approach to this match that involves preventing England from getting good chances. This is the same way that Slovakia held the English scoreless while forcing a 0-0 draw. And the key to pulling off this feat will be Aron Gunnarsson, who’ll be locked on England’s midfielders.

wayne-rooney-euroGiven Iceland’s defensive approach, Wayne Rooney will be key to helping England knife through the packed defense. Rooney has been criticized in the past for looking for fancy crossfield passes, instead of shorter passes that can eventually break through a massed defense. So his side will be hoping for more tactical passing against Iceland.

One other key matchup will be between English left-back Kyle Walker and Icelandic right-back Ari Skulason. Walker is a strong player who can set up Daniel Sturridge, Jamie Vardy, and Harry Kane with good crosses. Skulason, a smaller, faster player, is also good at passing and will be setting up Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Kolbeinn Sighorsson.

Breakout Performers: Daniel Sturridge, Gylfi Sigurdsson

Although inconsistent, Sturridge is expected to start for England as they face off against Iceland. The striker will be key to beating Iceland’s defenders because he’s a speedy player who also has a few tricks that help him get off good shots. Roy Hodgson’s squad might try to quickly attack in the opening minutes to get a fast goal, which could come courtesy of Sturridge.

iceland-bettingSurprisingly, Sigurdsson hasn’t had a big impact on Iceland’s Euro matches so far. But this is mostly due to the team not having much possession time in their midfield. If Iceland can keep England out of their backfield and get the ball to Sigurdsson where he can create, then they have a solid chance at scoring. The Swansea man has lots of Premier League experience and an excellent shot to show off his skills tomorrow.

Prediction on England vs Iceland

Iceland making the round of 16 is one of the greatest stories in recent Euro Cups. Most expected them to finish last in their group, but they made a surprising run through the tourney that has gained them worldwide attention. Unfortunately, we think that the ride ends here for Iceland because they’re overmatched and will have trouble mounting an attack while maintaining good defense – especially if they get behind early. Look for England to win by 1 or 2 goals.

Final Score Prediction: England wins 2-0
Betting Advice: Bet on England on the spread or moneyline.

2016 Euro Cup: Spain vs Italy

spain-vs-italyThe 2016 European Championships have moved into the round of 16, and there’s a high-profile matchup between Spain and Italy on June 27 (Monday).

Defending European champion Spain takes on 2012 runner-up Italy in what should be a hotly contested match.

Who will come out on top? Who should you bet on? Find out as we cover Spain vs Italy in the Euro Cup 2016.

Italy vs Spain (12:00pm EST at June 27)
GTBets.eu Moneyline

Spain +110
Italy +320
Draw +195

GTBets.eu Spread
Spain -0.5 (+105)
Italy +0.5 (-133)

Italy vs Spain Overview

Spain did not excel in the group stage the way they expected to. After easily winning their first two matches, they suffered a 2-1 loss to Croatia in their final contest. It’s hard to know what Spain is capable of moving forward because their performances range from potential champion to a team that might not show up.

spain-itally-bettingThe good news for coach Vicente del Bosque is that he has a week to get the players ready to come back strong. It also doesn’t hurt that Spain had six days of rest to get refocused for their match with Italy.

As for the Italians, their squad isn’t as good as in past years, and some expected them to falter in group play. Nevertheless, Italy notched three wins – including a 2-0 victory over Belgium – and didn’t allow a goal in all three group matches.

Coach Antonio Conte has done a good job of hiding his team’s faults while instilling mental toughness in the squad. They looked fantastic in group play; the only problem is that their perfect record drew one of the toughest lower seeds that you could ask for.

Key Matchup

andres-iniesta-spainOne of the biggest determinants in who wins this match will be the performances of Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta and Italian defenseman Daniele De Rossi.

Iniesta was a huge catalyst in Spain’s victories over Sweden and Belgium. And if he can do as good of a job at powering Spain’s attack against Italy, then his team has an excellent chance to win.

But the problem is that the Italians give very few openings because they’re so tactically sound. Roma star De Rossi is one of the biggest reasons why Italy offers so few openings. If he uses his strength, experience and stamina to slow down Iniesta, then the Spaniards’ attack will slow down considerably.

Breakout Performers

graziano-pelleAs mentioned above, Italy has the discipline to avoid giving up many good chances to their opponents. This means that in the event that Spain controls the ball, they’ll still need to capitalize on the few good opportunities they get. This is where Alvarao Morata becomes so important because the striker has been the top scorer in the Euro thus far. If he can convert on 1-2 chances in this match, Spain should advance to the round of 8.

Italy’s Graziano Pelle comes in under the radar when compared to Morata. But the Southampton striker will be crucial for Italy’s scoring chances since he’s a good passer who also has the ability to create shots for himself. If Spain struggles at any point in the back, Pelle will make them pay.

Prediction on Italy vs Spain

Few expected Italy to walk out of group play with a perfect record, especially with tough Belgian and Swedish squads, and a scrappy Irish team in their pool. But the Italians were at an all-time high with their tactical, error-free play.

The problem with Italy, though, is that they don’t have the talent this year that they’ve shown in the past. Spain does have talent, and with almost a week to prepare and shake off the 2-1 loss to Croatia, we think that they’ll shut down the Italians and advance.

Final Score Prediction: Spain wins 1-0
Betting Advice: While we think that Spain will win, Italy is offering value on the moneyline at +320. If the Spaniards make a crucial mistake, Italy could just as easily win.

Should USA Soccer fire Jurgen Klinsmann?

jurgen-klinsmannThe US Men’s National Team suffered an embarrassing and surprising 2-1 defeat at the hands of Jamaica in the Gold Cup. The FIFA rankings, although not always accurate, say everything in this case, with USA ranked 34th and Jamaica ranked 76th. Of course, an upset loss in a big tournament is not enough by itself to question US soccer, specifically Jurgen Klinsmann’s leadership. However, the reason WHY they lost may fall back on the coach along with other lackluster results.

Sure, USA has turned out some spectacular performances in friendlies recently. But those are friendlies, soccer’s definition of an exhibition game where players/strategies are experimented with. This was a serious tournament where the more-talented Americans played like the inferior team in virtually every way.

Jamaica did what they always do: try to play disciplined, defensive soccer while using their speed on extremely quick counterstrikes. Pretty much any top soccer team would have been ready for their strategy – although Jamaica should be given credit for how well they executed it. But execution or not, the Americans kept over-pursuing offensive chances and getting caught off-guard when Jamaica would force a turnover and start their counterstrike. This was not a flaw with the players, it was a flaw with Klinsmann’s approach to managing the game.

usa-jamaica-gold-cupKlinsmann’s managerial strategy wasn’t the only problem here because, once again, his odd approach to constantly tinkering with lineups created a dilemma. It’s fine to test different strategies on the road to the 2018 World Cup in hopes of finding the winning combination. But at some point every key player on the team needs to know exactly what their role is when it matters most. The Gold Cup semifinals game mattered greatly, yet several players were once again shifted around and used in a variety of ways, leading to another uncohesive performance.

His choice of players leaves something to be desired as well, like midfielder Kyle Beckerman, who has seen his best years pass by. The 33-year-old consistently looked slow while resorting to a number of fouls that finally got him benched by Klinsmann. It was a big factor in the game and one that allowed Jamaica to work their strategy to perfection.

Will Klinsmann be fired following this humiliating home loss to Jamaica? The likely answer is no, because he’s done some good things as well. He’s definitely been a factor in improving the USA soccer developmental structure, which was abysmal at best before his arrival. Now it’s looking more and more like America might be able to turn out quality talent on their own. DeAndre Yedlin, Gyasi Zardes and Perry Kitchen are excellent examples of this fact.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann has also done an excellent job of recruiting players who, through FIFA rules, are eligible to compete for multiple countries. Fabian Johnson, Aron Johannsson, Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks are all products are of this effort.

But if the USA soccer program wants to make a cold and calculated decision on what’s best for the USMNT, then there’s probably a better manager available in the way of in-game management and match preparation. From an overall standpoint, Klinsmann has definitely done a solid job up until now. However, it may be time to go another direction with regard to taking the USMNT to another level.