Euro 2020 tips: Our delightful 7/2 double for Sunday’s Group A games

Our stats guru has two tasty plays as Group A comes to an end at the tournament.

pjimageGroupADouJun21

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You know that gif of Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, working on complex mathematical equations? That is all of us contemplating the Group A match between Italy and Wales.

The Azzurri have already qualified for the last 16, and as the Welsh hold an advantage of three points and five in goal difference over Switzerland – plus every team with at least four points reached the knockout phase at Euro 2016 – then they have basically made the next stage too.

The complications come from looking at the draw from here onwards. The winners of Group A face the runner-up from Group C at Wembley, while the team who finishes second in this section travels to Amsterdam to face the second placed team from Group B. And if Wales do somehow end up in third, the word count would be exhausted listing the possibilities of who might lie in wait.

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Is there any real advantage to winning the group? From Wales’ perspective, playing their next match in London would likely see far more of their supporters in the stadium, but they’ll have to win this game in order to achieve that aim.

They’ve had success against this opponent before. One of Welsh football’s greatest nights of modern times – certainly prior to their run to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 – was when they beat Italy 2-1 at the Millennium Stadium in October 2002.

However, Roberto Mancini’s team are on a remarkable run now, which is far more pertinent. They are unbeaten in 29 matches and have won the last 10 without conceding a goal. They are short-priced favourites here, and deservedly so.

Robert Page

Italy v Wales: Under 2.5 goals

But, to return to our theme of confusion, no team got nine points in the Group Stage at Euro 2016, and only Germany did four years earlier. This was likely because countries who qualify from the group stage of international tournaments with a game to spare often rest players for their third fixture, making such matches much harder to predict.

Indeed, Antonio Conte’s Italy did this at the European Championships five years ago, giving the likes of Angelo Ogbonna and Federico Bernardeschi their only appearances at the tournament. Mancini might rotate in a similar fashion, particularly as 10 of his squad started both of their opening two matches.

Sunday 17:00 – Italy v Wales
ITV / RTÉ Two

There’s no question Italy should win – as impressive as Wales were against Turkey, they deserved to lose against Switzerland – but a draw largely suits both parties, especially if no key players get injured.

With the match result tricky to call, take a punt on Under 2.5 goals. The Italians have only allowed one shot on target so far, and while they scored three in both matches, they needed an own goal against Turkey and an 89th minute strike against the Swiss to hit that mark. Five of their wins in their recent run ended 2-0, and we can expect a similar lack of goals here.

VladimirPetkovicSwitzerlandJun21

Switzerland v Turkey: Switzerland (-1)

The other match in Group A is a curious one in that both teams can still theoretically qualify for the next round, yet a draw almost certainly knocks both nations out and a Turkey win is unlikely to be enough for them anyway.

At Euro 2016 the third placed teams who made the round of 16 had at least three points and a minimum of zero goal difference, with the Turks starting here with no points, no goals scored and five conceded.  But we shouldn’t be surprised they’ve struggled, even though that bloke down the pub told you Turkey were dark horses. Neither of these sides has a history of success at the Euros, having compiled six wins from 30 matches between them.

One of Turkey’s four triumphs came the last time these nations met though. In 2008 Switzerland took a first half lead before two goals after the break (the latter of which was in the 90th minute) gave Fatih Terim’s side the victory.

Switzerland v Turkey – Sunday 17:00
ITV4

They’re not expected to win this one though, and while both teams were handsomely beaten by Italy, their matches with Wales illustrate the difference in quality between the teams. Switzerland had four clear-cut chances against Rob Page’s side without conceding any, while Turkey allowed six – the most by any team across the opening 15 matches of Euro 2020.

Gareth Bale was able to play passes behind the Turkish backline time and again on Wednesday, becoming the first man to create more than three clear-cut chances in a Euros match in the process. And who is he if not a poor man’s Xherdan Shaqiri?

With Turkey needing to chase a big win, it’s hard to see them playing any more defensively, and they’ve conceded at least twice in nine of their matches in the last year. As for Vladimir Petkovic’s side, they’ve only failed to score in two of their 14 games since last summer, so should have the firepower to beat the handicap and get the win they need to reach the knockout phase.

Euro 2020 tips summary:

Italy v Wales: Under 2.5 goals
Switzerland v Turkey: Switzerland (-1)

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Check out our complete team-by-team guides for the two teams below:

* Stats correct as of start of tournament.

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