After a meh few weeks of group play eliminated just eight of the 24 teams that kicked off Euro 2020— despite some close calls for the likes of Germany and Portugal, all the favorites are still alive — business will pick up Saturday when the round of 16 gets underway with Wales-Denmark at noon.
Some of the eight match-ups taking place from Saturday through Tuesday offer a lot more than others, and that’s what I’m here to sort through with another installment of the High Press Soccer Watchability Rankings.
The schedule is below. All times listed are Eastern:
- Saturday: Wales-Denmark, noon; Italy-Austria, 3 p.m.
- Sunday: Netherlands-Czech Republic, noon; Belgium-Portugal, 3 p.m.
- Monday: Croatia-Spain, noon; France-Switzerland, 3 p.m.
- Tuesday: England-Germany, noon; Sweden-Ukraine, 3 p.m.
The odds to advance, courtesy of DraftKings SportsBook, are listed in parentheses.
1. England (-125) vs. Germany (+100)
England-Germany gives us a lot to keep an eye on. This game pits the third-favorite to win the title (England) vs. the fourth-favorite (Germany). We’re also talking about the most even line of the eight games on the board, making this an easy decision at No. 1.
And we haven’t even mentioned that both these teams have justt a bit of history, both on and off the pitch. Continent-wide, this will get the biggest TV ratings. It’s also a damn good match-up even if you ignore all the hype around both squads.
England did not allow a goal in three games against Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic, but faces a German team with a lot more firepower than any of those three. After failing to score in their opener against tournament favorite France, Germany exploded for a total of six against Portugal and Hungary, including four against the Portuguese.
Plenty has been made of Harry Kane’s quiet start for England, which has struggled to score, but I expect this one to be decided by the battle between Germany’s high-powered attack and England’s back line. Even if Thomas Muller is unavailable, Kai Havertz, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane are pretty damn formidable, especially in front of a talented, creative midfield like Germany’s.
I think this is a total coin flip, but if I have to pick a winner – and I’m not quite corny enough to just say that everyone who watches this one will be a winner — I’ll go with England.
2. Belgium (-148) vs. Portugal (+115)
Between the star power and the close line, there’s a case that this is actually the best match-up of the round of 16. Other than Italy (the Italians were the only team with a goal differential better than Belgium’s +6) nobody looked better in group play than Belgium.
All Belgium has to do to reach the quarters is get through Cristiano Ronaldo and the reigning Euro champs. I like Belgium, but the opportunity to bet on CR7 at +115 is incredibly tempting.
3. Croatia (+260) vs. Spain (-335)
I understand why Spain is favored here, but -335 makes me wonder if oddsmakers watched La Roja in group play before their romp over a bad Slovakia team. Croatia is great value at +220, even if their group play draw vs. the Czech Republic was a tough look.
Spain has no problems maintaining possession via one slick pass after another, so this won’t be a slog, but the question is whether Luis Enrique’s team can finish its scoring opportunities.
One other storyline to keep an eye on: in truly shocking news, Alvaro Morata has had (more) trouble finishing and is seemingly Spanish fans’ least favorite player. Will Enrique give him another start, and if so, will Morata come through?
4. Italy (-500) vs. Austria (+350)
The line here tells us we shouldn’t expect a close game, but Italy deserves our attention after cementing itself as the biggest pleasant surprise of the tournament through group play. I’m not sure what to say about Austria, but it will be interesting to see whether Italy can keep it rolling, especially now that they’ve become one of the tournament favorites. Roberto Mancini’s team is +600 to win the title – only France (+420) has shorter odds.
5. France (-500) vs. Switzerland (+350)
France is so loaded that their games belong in the middle of a list like this, at worst, even if I don’t expect much from Switzerland here. My bold take: this will be the game when France breaks out offensively, making Over 2.5 (+128) advisable. I wouldn’t consider Over 3.5 (+340) a bad idea either, as Switzerland allowed five goals in group play, including three against Italy.
6. Wales (+210) vs. Denmark (-286)
If France and Italy weren’t so must-see, I’d have this game higher up the list, as Denmark is a great story, for obvious reasons. For Wales, Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have been fun to watch. Side note: who needs a prominent role at Real Madrid/Tottenham (not Bale!) or Juventus (not Ramsey!).
If you want to bet on an underdog with a sizeable payout, Wales-Denmark feels like more of a toss-up than this line says it is, making the Welsh good value. A couple things in Wales’ favor here: Denmark got a huge boost from playing its group matches in Copenhagen. They’ll lose that edge in Amsterdam, though I’ll admit they’re going to be the darlings of the summer, no matter where they’re playing.
I also hate to be anti-Denmark given what happened to Christian Eriksen, but I wonder if the way the public has adopted this squad has skewed how oddsmakers value it.
7. Netherlands (-305) vs. Czech Republic (+220)
If we identified favorites based only on group play, the Netherlands would be at the top of the list. Memphis Depay and Gini Wijnaldum have been outstanding, and I expect these guys to not only handle the Czech Republic, but potentially make a deep run. Take them at -305 here, and maybe even think about a flier on them to win it all at +900.
8. Sweden (-167) vs. Ukraine (+130)
As the line indicates, a close game is likely, and Sweden’s Alexander Isak is fun to watch. Other than that, I don’t have much of a case to make for this one.
WHERE TO BET EURO 2020 IN THE US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in 14 states at both online and retail sportsbooks.
DraftKings Sportsbook is available in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
FanDuel Sportsbook is available in Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.