Is there anything more depressing than a third and fourth place playoff for fans and players alike? I suppose having to take part in it after having taken the lead in your semi-final but then throwing it away thanks to some catastrophic defensive errors would be worse, wouldn’t it? Ah, Mr Southgate, do come in.
It may have taken until the 114th minute for the Netherlands to seal the match against England, but they absolutely battered them. The Dutch had over twice as many attempts, and lead the shots on target count by 14 to three. The Three Lions weren’t as bad as the behaviour by the idiot end of their fan base, but the whole lot of them probably should’ve been deported from Portugal on Thursday evening.
But they weren’t, and so they face Switzerland on Sunday afternoon. The Swiss also lost their semi-final 3-1, but it was a far closer contest. They had the misfortune to run into the Cristiano Ronaldo show, but gave as good as they got otherwise.
Paddy must pay attention to the FIFA World Rankings, as he has England down as strong favourites to win this match. Gareth Southgate’s team are the fourth best in the world, apparently, which must be why they are priced at evens to win in 90 minutes, while a Swiss win and the draw are both 5/2.
While the FIFA rankings aren’t worth much, history is certainly on the side of the Three Lions. They have faced the Swiss 29 times over the years, winning 21 while only losing three. England’s last defeat was back in 1981, and they’ve won the three meetings in the last eight years.
As bad as the defending by John Stone and co. was on Thursday, they had gone seven games without defeat before that. Switzerland had lost three of their seven matches preceding their Portugal loss, so the form book points towards a first-ever third-place playoff win for England.
One of those recent defeats for the Swiss was actually against England, in a friendly in September last year. The nations clashed at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, with the Three Lions winning by a goal to nil.
The two meetings previous to that occurred in qualifying for Euro 2016, and again England won both without conceding a goal, coming out as 2-0 winners home and away.
So should we punt on a low scoring match, and bet ‘no’ in the both teams to score market? Not necessarily. These countries’ recent games have tended to see plenty of goalmouth action at both ends of the pitch.
Four of England’s last six matches have seen both teams score, while five of the games have paid out on over 2.5 goals.
It has been a similar story for Vladimir Petković’s side, who have had a 3-3 draw with Denmark and a 5-2 win over Belgium – plus their 3-1 loss to Portugal – in their last four matches. If we have to watch this game, the least they can do is make it entertaining.
It’s very hard to select a scorer bet for the Swiss. Their last eight goals have all been scored by different players. It’s good for them to have a varied attacking threat, but it doesn’t help us pick someone.
However, it’s easy to see why Haris Seferovic is their shortest priced player. He scored seven in his last nine games for Benfica, and bagged a hat trick against Belgium in his last international run out prior to Wednesday. Keep an eye on him, Stonesy.
Harry Kane leads the goalscorer market but just doesn’t look fit. His tally of four shots (two of which were blocked) in 165 minutes this week isn’t too inspiring. He is at least likely to play though, whereas Marcus Rashford went off injured at half time on Thursday.
Raheem Sterling is a decent shout to score at 7/4, but for a better value bet, how about Jesse Lingard? Despite a poor campaign for Manchester United, he was a narrow offside decision away from scoring for the third England game in a row when he put the ball in the net against the Netherlands.