By Antony Jordan
Day eight of the 2016 European Championships in France sees two of the most successful sides in world football in action, and both Italy and Spain are looking to secure their second successive victories to book their places in the last 16 stage of the tournament.
The Italians were perhaps the most impressive team in the first round of group games as they defeated the much fancied Belgians 2-0 and now they face a Swedish team that can consider themselves lucky to have emerged from their clash with Ireland with a point, while Spain look to follow up their 1-0 win over the Czechs by beating Turkey too.
We take a look at both of these two games, as well as the Czech Republic v Croatia clash, with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide our best Euro 2016 picks.
With an injury hit squad that had come in for a massive amount of criticism by the media in Italy, there was very little expected from this Italy team coming into the tournament but they certainly and emphatically silenced these critics in their first outing in France in Lyon on Monday night. The Italian side defended as one, stifling the Belgian attack and then countering with surprising pace and guile to lead on 32 minutes and add a second to kill the game off in injury time at the end of the match, leaving pundits and fans alike questioning what all the fuss about the Belgian side was about.
Italy will be boosted by that performance and the result as they know that victory against Sweden today will secure their place in the knockout phase of Euro 2016 so they will see themselves winning this game too. Sweden were second best for large parts of their match with the Republic of Ireland and they could easily have conceded three or four to their opposition in the opening game as the woodwork saved them on multiple occasions. Italy are a much better team, both defensively and tactically, so we cannot see Sweden getting anything from this match while Italy again control the pace and reach the knockout phase in France.
Euro 2016 Picks Best Bet
Spain are the overwhelming favourites to secure another three points from their Group D clash this Friday as they face Turkey in Nice and they’ll be happy that they have history on their side as they have won all of the last three meetings between the teams and have not lost to today’s opposition in more than six decades. However, despite all this positivity for Spain from previous meetings the Spanish side made hard work of the Czech Republic in their first match as it took them 87 minutes to open the scoring in that match as they claimed a 1-0 win as they appeared more and more desperate as the game came to a close. It was defender Gerard Pique who opened the scoring for Spain in France this summer, but will any of the Spanish attackers be able to get off the mark against Turkey?
Turkey did not show much endeavour in their first match against Croatia, but they did defend well and it was only a Luka Modrić stunner from 40 yards that saw them defeated by a goal to nil. They too are lacking goal scoring options up front with them lacking pace and experience amongst and with Spain having an almost impregnable backline during tournaments we feel that today will not be the time that Turkey end their winless run over the Spaniards due to their poor striking options.
There is very little value on Spain to win this match and there is also a lack of value to be had on few goals but by combining the two we have found an excellent value bet for this final match of the day.
Euro 2016 Picks Best Bet
Both of these sides had 1-0 results in their first Group D matches as the Czechs had their hearts broken late on after they thought they’d hung on against Spain while Luka Modrić stunned Turkey with one of the finest efforts that the tournament has seen so far to claim a 1-0 victory for Croatia. Another three point haul for Croatia will see them into the last 16 stage and will likely leave the Czechs staring an early elimination right in the face.
Both of these two sides have very strong midfields with 35 year old former Arsenal man Tomáš Rosický top of the pile for the Czechs, but with Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić in the middle of the park for Croatia feeding Juventus striker Mario Mandžukić up front it is certainly the side that defeated Turkey last Sunday that has the stronger of these two sides.
We feel that they are more precise and better under pressure too, while having had their confidence boosted massively by the victory in their opening match, and we can see them repeating the result they had when the sides last clashed five years ago and taking all three points.