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Here we are – the warm-ups for the European Championships. Some might argue that the tournament doesn’t begin until the first competitive ball is kicked, but the camps who are most likely to win it know the warm-up games are massively important for a number of reasons.
The first being that having better players than your opponents means absolutely nothing if they’re not fit and in game-mode from the first whistle – but, also because the better squads generally haven’t gotten a clue who their first-choice XI will be.
The French certainly fall into that category as join-favourites, too. Now the Welsh test might be somewhat of a red herring if we’re going to base their Euros chances off of anything – but, generally we can guarantee the two nations’ approaches to this.
France will see this as their big test; not wanting to go too hard against Bulgaria in a week’s time in case they land an injury that won’t heal in time for their opener.
Wales on the other hand know this friendly is far too difficult even at half-pace to get their competitive passages of play into. This game will be their defensive shape trial, and the Albania game will see them attack. With that in our back pocket, let’s tackle the markets with three humdingers shall we?
The Shorty: France To Win To Nil
Wales will not be even attempting to attack in this game of football, so you can forget any ideas you had about them sending forward their full backs or doing anything other than launching balls towards their 6ft 5’ lump up top and hoping he can keep possession for at least 10 seconds.
Wednesday 20:05 – France v Wales
S4C / Sky Sports Football
Damage limitation is the wrong term to put on this, but I’m not really sure of the right term.
Value Play: Under 2.5 Goals
The reason I say this is because it’s going to be far more about chances created than chances taken for the French. Finishing comes with far more variables than creation does – and that’s why Deschamps will need to see how they’re breaking teams down far more than them finishing teams off.
Wales’ back four (ten) is fresher than France’s – with the French having a number of players contesting late rounds of European competitions, as well as title races that went right to the final day. For that reason, I suspect it’ll be a laboured effort from the home side, and maybe even one that sees wholesale changes at the half to disrupt even further.
Long Shot: Karim Benzema To Score a Hat-Trick
I know I’ve tipped the unders. but if there’s one thing that could change the most likely outcome of this game, it’s Karim Benzema in his first appearance for France in over five years.
It would be quite a statement for the Real Madrid striker to come in and blow everyone out of the water. No matter what the instructions given in the dressing room beforehand, Benzema will be trying to make both himself look good, and the managers who snubbed him quite foolish. It’s better to have that outcome onside.
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