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Posted By Topic: SBOTOP: EURO 2024       - Views: 353
SBOTOP 07-Sep 2023 Thursday 3:25 PM (280 days ago)               #1
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Euro 2024: Rank Outsiders Ireland Aim for Paris Shock

France vs Republic of Ireland

Ahead of this Euro 2024 qualifier, I’ve been recalling the last time these nations met in France – a rainy night in Paris on the eve of the 2018 World Cup which, ultimately, would see Les Bleus go on to be crowned world champions.

At the time I remember praising the job of Irish manager Martin O’Neill and his assistant, Roy Keane, who achieved so much with a group of worthy but journeymen footballers.

I also recall saying how much I’d love to see the O’Neill-Keane axis given the opportunity to manage a more stellar group of players—similar to the national sides Keane played in and led during the 1990s and the early part of the new millennium.

Fast forward more than five years and the position has not changed, indeed it has been weakened further.

It is not being critical of the current incumbent, Stephen Kenny, who took on a thankless task when he was appointed in 2020 with his only senior experience to date being in his homeland, most notably at Dundalk where he enjoyed real success before taking the international under-21 job in late 2018.

To their credit, the Football Association of Ireland are backing their man, despite an unconvincing start, yet it does appear the boys from the Emerald Isle have plenty to do if they are to reach Euro 2024 – they currently have picked up just three points from three games and sit three points behind Greece in second place in qualifying Group B, and nine adrift of France.

Talking Points

If Ireland’s Euro 2024 qualifying highlights to date have been in short supply, this already difficult journey hasn’t been helped by the fact that teenager talent Evan Ferguson has been ruled out because of injury.

Stephen Kenny's Ireland side are up to challenge the mighty France in Euro 2024 qualifiers

Republic of Ireland’s head coach Stephen Kenny shouts instructions to his players from the touchline

The in-form Brighton forward injured his knee during his club’s 3-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday.

Ferguson, 18, scored a hat-trick in that game and was expected to spearhead the Irish attack in the next two games.

The second of those is against Holland and, should Ireland lose both, they may as well kiss goodbye to taking part in next summer’s tournament.

The Netherlands, who host Greece on Thursday, are level with the Republic on points but have played a game less, with the top two qualifying for the

finals in Germany.

Without Ferguson, Kenny’s forward options consist of Norwich City’s Adam Idah, Preston’s Will Keane, Hull’s Aaron Connolly and Luton’s Chiedozie Ogbene.

Republic captain Seamus Coleman and forward Michael Obafemi were already ruled out of the trip to face last year’s World Cup finalists because of injury, while Wolves full-back Matt Doherty is suspended after his red card in defeat to Greece earlier this year.

All in all then, if Kenny’s men can pull off a shock in the Parc des Princes it will be a real triumph but, with last year’s World Cup finalists France sitting top of Group B with a perfect record from their opening four games, few are expecting such.

UEFA EURO 2024

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History

The first of 18 contests was a friendly in the French capital in 1937 which Ireland won 2-0.

Eire have won four of their meetings in total with five draws and nine French successes.

Not since a World Cup qualifier in 1981, however, have the Irish enjoyed victory.

On that occasion, an early own goal was added to by Frank Stapleton and Michael Robinson as the Irish, managed by Eoin Hand, won 3-2 at Lansdowne Road.

Their most recent clash, a qualifier in Ireland in March, was settled by a Benjamin Pavard goal.

France edged a Euro 2016 quarter-final, thanks to the brilliance of Antoine Griezmann, while the most infamous meeting of all came in a qualifier for the 2010 World Cup when a handball by Thierry Henry was missed/overlooked, causing much consternation across the football world.

The scorers that night in 2018, incidentally, were Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐⭐

France VS Republic Of Ireland

September 08, 02:45 (GMT+8)

France First Half Asian Handicap -0.75

@ 1.96

The SBOTOP Euro 2024 qualifying betting odds are firmly stacked in favour of the hosts.

France can be backed 1X2 @ 1.21 and Asian Handicap -1.75 @ 1.90, as well as First Half 1X2 @ 1.68 and First Half Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 1.96.

Ireland are well adrift with odds of 1X2 @ 7.60 and Asian Handicap +1.50 @ 2.21.

A draw is even unexpected, priced @ 6.20, and another 1-0 French win will pay out @ 5.00 with Correct Score.

Ireland’s best option could be to keep it tight for as long as possible and you can find odds of Total Goal 0-1 @ 3.55 and Under 2.50 @ 2.17.

That has crossed my mind but, realistically, I have to go with the majority as I cannot see beyond a French success. Therefore, my *** tip is France First Half Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 1.96.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

●●●

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 07-Sep-2023 at 3:25 PM





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SBOTOP 07-Sep 2023 Thursday 3:26 PM (280 days ago)            #2
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Euro 2024: Slovaks Out to Create History Against CR7 & Co

Slovakia vs Portugal

The top two in Group J are about to face off in Euro 2024 qualifying.

In truth, both Slovakia and Portugal should make it, and the latter, former European champions, are overwhelming favourites to top the group.

But Euro 2024 qualifying highlights aren’t a cert – after all, the Selecao needed a last-gasp winner from talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to see off Iceland in their last outing three months ago so cannot afford to be complacent.

Talking Points

Now anyone who knows me knows my feeling about CR7.

At the age of 38 he is, of course, past his best but his genius still shines through.

Not only he is the greatest ever player from their shores – no mean feat when you think Portugal was also the birthplace of Eusebio and Luis Figo – but possibly the globe as well.

UEFA EURO 2024

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Since his senior debut in 2003, the start of a long and distinguished international career, the boy from Madeira has gone onto stand alone as the record holder for most international appearances, having played more times for his country than any other man.

He also comfortably presides over another record – most international appearances and most international goals.

It may be some time before we witness such a feat again and he is a true legend of the game.

As Portugal look to cement top position in the standings and maintain their 100 per cent record since he took charge, manager Roberto Martinez can count on both Ronaldo and a host key players for Friday’s qualifier, including Manchester United captain Bruno Fernandes, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, Bernardo Silva, and Ruben Neves.

With four wins from their four opening fixtures against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Iceland, Portugal have accumulated 12 points and 14 goals while keeping the back door bolted shut at the other end, amassing four clean sheets to boot.

Notable defensive absentees include Raphael Guerreiro, Nuno Mendes and 40-year-old centre-back Pepe, while Benfica duo Rafa Silva and Joao Mario have both called time on their international careers. Yet they still ooze quality.

As for Slovakia, their main man has now called time on his glittering career so there will be no Marek Hamsik to spearhead their midfield.

Yet one man to keep an eye on in is Napoli’s Stanislav Lobotka, who has 47 caps.

Stanislav Lobotka is expected to start for Slovakia's Euro 2024 clash with Portugal

Slovakia’s Milan Skriniar and Stanislav Lobotka celebrate their first goal vs Azerbaijan

He should be joined in the staring XI by club team mate Stanislav Lobotka, while Juraj Kucka should win his 100th cap for the Falcons.

Another name to watch out for is Sydney FC winger Robert Mak who, with 15 goals to his name, represents the top goalscorer in the Slovakia ranks and should be given the nod in the left-wing position.

While a seven-game unbeaten run should stand the home side in good stead, this is a different test altogether and the gulf in quality between the sides ranked ninth and 47th in the world is a big one, as other established nations have shown in recent years.

History

In their last meeting in a competitive match, back in 2005, Portugal recorded a 2-0 win over Slovakia.

That was a World Cup qualifier in which Fernando Meira and Ronaldo were on target.

They had drawn 1-1 in Bratislava a few months earlier in their first qualifier when Miroslav Karhan’s opener was cancelled out by substitute Helder Postiga.

That remains the only time Slovakia have avoided defeat against the Portuguese.

They also met twice in qualifying for Euro 2000.

The first ever meeting, in October 1998, saw Portugal run out 3-0 winners, courtesy of goals from João Pinto (two) and Xavier.

Portugal won the return game the following June via a solitary goal from Capucho.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐⭐

Slovakia VS Portugal

September 09, 02:45 (GMT+8)

Half Time Full Time Draw Away

@ 3.60

It’s Portugal all the way with the SBOTOP Euro 2024 qualifying betting odds.

While Slovakia are priced 1X2 @ 6.00 and Asian Handicap +1.00 @ 2.21 – along with First Half 1X2 @ 5.40 and First Half Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 2.25 – the visitors are deemed far more likely to return home with maximum points.

Odds include First Half 1X2 Portugal @ 2.02, First Half Asian Handicap -0.50, also @ 2.02, 1X2 @ 1.40 and Asian Handicap -1.50 @ 2.23.

There’s never been a goalless draw and I don’t think there will be this time, although Total Goal 0-1 will earn you a tidy pay day @ 3.15, compared to 2-3 @ 1.85 and 4-6 @ 3.30.

Over 2.75 @ 2.11 caught my eye as did the 1X2 Draw @ 4.20.

A repeat of their last meeting some 18 years ago is available with Correct Score 0-2 @ 5.40.

I am going to plump for a *** tip of Half Time Full Time Draw Away @ 3.30.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

●●●

CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 07-Sep-2023 at 3:26 PM





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SBOTOP 07-Sep 2023 Thursday 3:29 PM (280 days ago)            #3
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Euro 2024: Can Mitrovic Return Give Serbs the Edge in Belgrade?

Serbia vs Hungary

He may have recently left England for pastures new but when it comes to internationals, Serbia have a star man up their sleeve.

With Aleksandar Mitrovic you really can get the full package – a player who causes problems for all and is capable of a centre forward masterclass – and a player who can sometimes take his passion too far.

One thing that cannot be disputed, however, is that his return to the Serbia XI for this Euro 2024 qualifying contest gives the hosts the advantage in what is a top of the table Group G clash in the Puskas Arena.

Talking Points

I think we can justifiably expect Euro 2024 qualifying highlights for this is a meeting of two nations genuinely hopeful of being involved in next summer’s showpiece.

Both have come through their opening three qualifiers unbeaten and both will back themselves to extend those streaks in Belgrade.

Being held to a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria last time out would not have impressed their supporters, Serbia requiring a last-gasp Darko Lazovic goal to earn a share of the spoils.

Nevertheless, it is a goal that could ultimately prove decisive with Serbia having previously opened their qualifying campaign with 2-0 victories over Lithuania and Montenegro respectively.

That means manager Dragan Stojkovic will be confident that a top-two position is more than within their grasp.

As well as Mitrovic, Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic is in the squad and he has made a decent start to the season at club level with two goals in his first three outings.

Mitrovic has 52 international goals to his name, half of which have been scored in Belgrade, and he is joined by another player who has recently moved to Saudi Arabia in former Lazio midfielder Sergej Milinković-Savić.

Marko Grujic is in line to feature in midfield, with Sasa Lukic and Dejan Jovelijc both left out of the squad.

Hungary's Peter Gulacsi aims to keep Serbia from scoring as they clash in the Euro 2024 qualifiers

Hungary’s Peter Gulacsi in action during their match against Italy

For Hungary, although goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi is back in the international fold after a year on the sidelines, Denes Dibusz should retain his spot between the sticks. Dániel Gazdag is injured and Ádám Szalai retired at the end of last year.

Martin Ádám will lead the line, after scoring his first two international goals back in March.

A goalless draw was recorded in Montenegro, either side of wins over Bulgaria and Lithuania on home territory, and Marco Rossi’s side are yet to concede a goal.

If they can keep another clean sheet it will hold them in good stead and ease them nearer to Germany next summer.

A word of warning also before you back Mitrovic, Milinković-Savić, Vlahovic et al.

In their last 13 fixtures, the Magyars have only lost twice – both times against Italy – with three victories over England and Germany during that period.

History

World Cup

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This will be the fourth ever meeting between the two nations since Serbia replaced the former Yugoslavia.

The record currently stands at one win apiece and one draw.

All the clashes have come in the past three years.

In 2020, a goal from Norbert Könyves gave Hungary a 1-0 win in Belgrade in a Nations League match.

The return match in Budapest a month later was drawn as Zslot Kalmár cancelled out Nemanja Radonjić’s opener for the visitors.

The two sides met again in Budapest in the spring of last year in a friendly when an own goal decided the contest in favour of Serbia.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐

Serbia VS Hungary

September 8, 02:45 (GMT+8)

Half Time Full Time Draw – Home

@4.10

The home team are backed by the SBOTOP Euro 2024 qualifying betting odds.

Serbia can be tipped in a variety of ways, including First Half 1X2 @ 2.44, First Half Asian Handicap -0.50 @ 2.44, 1X2 @ 1.74, Asian Handicap -0.75 @ 2.01 and -1.00 @ 2.40.

For the Magyars, the options vary from First Half 1X2 @ 4.40 and First Half Asian Handicap +0.25 @ 1.88 to 1X2 @ 3.90 and Asian Handicap +0.50 @ 2.11.

Another Hungary win in Budapest will pay out @ 11.00 with Correct Score 0-1.

A Serbia victory by the same scoreline is on offer @ 4.70.

If you expect goals, then it’s worth considering the usual array of bets such as over 2.50 @ 2.23, Total Goal 0-1 @ 2.50, 2-3 @ 1.83 and 4-6 @ 4.50.

I am going to opt for the hosts to emerge victorious over 90 minutes with their attacking firepower proving the difference.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

●●●

CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 07-Sep-2023 at 3:29 PM





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SBOTOP 14-Sep 2023 Thursday 1:34 PM (273 days ago)            #4
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Euro 2024: England March to Germany via Poland

Ukraine vs England

England continue their Euro 2024 qualification campaign on Saturday with a testing fixture away to Ukraine.

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine makes a match in their homeland impossible, Sergey Rebrov’s side will host the game in Wroclaw in Poland and it’s a clash they need to get a result from to keep their hopes of qualification alive. England top Group C with a maximum 12 points while Ukraine are in competition with Italy for the second place. They have six points from three games while Italy have three from two; North Macedonia and Malta are making up the numbers in Group C.

Gareth Southgate’s England have beaten all four of their group rivals, latterly thrashing North Macedonia 7-0 while Ukraine come into the game on the back of an edgy 1-0 victory over Malta. A win for the Three Lions would all but seal their ticket to Germany in 2024.

Talking Points

Will Southgate play Henderson?

Jordan Henderson of Al-Ettifaq will try to score goals for England squad against Ukraine in the Euro 2024 qualifiers

England midfielder Jordan Henderson during training with teammates James Maddison and Harry Kane

The Euro 2024 betting odds make England the joint favourites to win the tournament, alongside France, while hosts Germany will also be in the mix. After losing the 2021 final on penalties the Three Lions will be determined to go one step further in 2024 and they have a bright young group of players who can take on the rest of Europe. But Southgate has caused a few raised eyebrows with his selection of old boy Jordan Henderson, who recently joined his ex Liverpool mate Steven Gerrard at El- Ettifaq. Henderson was outspoken in his support of minorities when he was Liverpool captain but he managed to put those principles to one side when Stevie G came calling and the El-Ettifaq cheque book opened.

Southgate too has never been slow to take the high moral ground but he recently said it would be stupid to stop selecting Henderson since his move to Saudi, so I guess winning football matches matters more than anything else… and Hendo might even make an appearance on Saturday.

Another experienced campaigner, who does his talking on the pitch, Harry Kane, wants to add to his 58 goals from 84 games while Arsenal livewire Eddie Nketiah may be in line for his debut alongside tea-mate Bukayo Saka, who is sure to feature. And north London rival James Maddison, who has made an impressive start to his Tottenham Hotspur career could also be in line for a start as Manchester City’s Jack Grealish has been withdrawn from the squad.

Their Euro 2024 results have been perfect so far, but the Three Lions face a stiff test when they meet Ukraine.

Mudryk can shine for Ukraine

After losing to England in their opener Ukraine beat both North Macedonia and Malta to move into second place and another positive result on Saturday will put them in a really strong position. And Rebrov has some very useful players to choose from, including 22 year old winger Mikhailo Mudryk. The former Shakhtar Donetsk star went to Chelsea with a huge weight of expectation on his shoulders and has, so far, struggled to deliver. He is yet to score for the Blues in 18 appearances, but new Chelsea Mauricio Pochettino has faith in his young star and has used him three times already this season. Mudryk’s lighting turn of pace can leave defenders standing and draw fouls in dangerous positions and, once Mudryk finds his feet, he can be devastating.

Dynamo Kyiv’s Andriy Yarmolenko is captain of Ukraine and he has 45 goals in 115 games, while there is more experience in the shape of Arsenal’s utility man Oleksander Zinchenko, who is a class act, and Everton wingback Vitali Mykolenko could also feature.

History

England have won five of their eight meetings with Ukraine, drawing two and losing just once. The Three Lions won 4-0 when the two teams clashed in the 2021 Euros quarter finals; and when they met in March England ran out 2-0 winners as Kane and Saka scored quick-fire goals just before half time.

In terms of recent form England have won five and lost one of the last six, while Ukraine have won three, drawn two and lost one.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐

Ukraine VS England

September 10, 12:00 (GMT +8)

England Asian Handicap -1.25

@ 2.00

Ukraine are at SBOTOP odds of 5.42 to win this game and 4.07 to draw, while the Three Lions are red hot favourites at a price of 1.41. The hosts are playing in neighbouring Poland but they will have plenty of support in Wroclaw and will make things difficult for England.

But I think the visitors, and particularly the likes of Saka and Maddison, will be able to cut open the Ukraine defence and the Three Lions will continue their march to Germany.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

●●●

CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 14-Sep-2023 at 1:35 PM





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SBOTOP 14-Sep 2023 Thursday 1:36 PM (273 days ago)            #5
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Euro 2024: Scandinavia Showdown is Key to Qualification Hopes

Finland vs Denmark

The importance of this Euro 2024 qualifying tie in Helsinki on Sunday teatime simply cannot be underestimated.

These Nordic counterparts occupy the top two positions in Group H, and both are desperate to secure a place on Europe’s grandest stage of all next summer.

They also know the importance of Euro 2024 highlights because it’s so close in their pool and any slip-up could be pounced upon.

Talking Points

Both nations tasted victory on Thursday night.

Denmark, as you’d expect, were too strong for the minnows of San Marino, and the contest was over by the break as they opened up a three goal lead from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Joakim Maehle, and Jonas Wind.

Yussuf Poulsen completed the rout in stoppage time as the Danes eventually ran out 4-0 winners.

It was a lot closer for the Finns in Kazakhstan, but Oliver Antman’s goal 12 minutes from time secured the points to keep them out in front at the top of the group.

Oliver Antman and his teammates will give their all to win against Denmark in their Euro 2024 qualifying match

Finland’s Oliver Antman celebrates with Robert Ivanov after scoring their first goal against Kazakhstan

That could prove a crucial goal too with Finland now three points above Thursday’s opponents and, if they see off the Danes (who they are currently two points above), they will be more than hopeful of securing a place at the European Championships for the second successive time and what would be only the second time in their history.

Indeed, if Finland win, Denmark may face an uphill task to qualify for the tournament.

Remember, this is a nation which actually bowed out of the World Cup at the group stages last winter.

They may have been unfortunate to lose to eventual finalists France late on in the group stages, thanks to someone I consider the best player in the world.

But failure to beat Tunisia or Australia did for the Scandinavians who need to up their game or risk missing out on the championships altogether.

The European Champions of 1992 – and that was truly wonderful – were semi-finalists at Euro 2020 (delayed and played two years ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic) and only went out because of a very harsh decision that went against them in the semi-finals.

It would certainly be a surprise if they failed to qualify after being present at all bar two such tournaments over the past four decades.

Yet Slovenia and Kazakhstan are hot on their heels.

The two nations actually met in the group stages at the most recent European Championships just over two years ago, although that result was secondary in a match overshadowed by a collapse which thankfully did not turn out to be a tragedy.

Now they have been paired together again with two nations from the group of six – which also includes Northern Ireland and San Marino – automatically qualifying for the continental footballing jamboree in Germany.

Who can take a step closer this weekend?

UEFA EURO 2024

RomaniaIsrael

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History

When they met in March, it was closely contested before two goals in the final eight minutes from new Manchester United man Rasmus Hojlund saw him score a hat-trick in a 3-1 win. Antman replied for Finland.

Despite their close proximity, Denmark and Finland have met just six times this century and, until six months ago, the countries had not competed in qualifying for a major international tournament since the build-up to the 1988 Euros, when the Danes won both matches by the same 1-0 scoreline.

Overall, Denmark have had a distinct advantage in this fixture with 39 wins compared to 12 Finland victories and nine draws.

A number of their meetings traditionally have come in the Nordic Championships, and the vast majority have been friendlies, including the very first game in 1925 which ended 3-3 in Aarhus.

The stats from that day show us Denmark took an early lead through Thorvald Schultz before a double from Verner Eklof and one from Aulis Koponen fired Finland into a 3-1 interval advantage.

Yet two goals in the second half from Pauli Jorgensen ensured the spoils were shared.

At the time of writing, the SBOTOP Euro 2024 betting odds for this match have yet to be announced.

But keep an eye on our site for there will be some tempting odds and an array of bets for such an important qualifier.

●●●

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 14-Sep-2023 at 1:36 PM





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SBOTOP 14-Sep 2023 Thursday 4:33 PM (273 days ago)            #6
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Euro 2024: Austria Test is a Must-Win for Sweden

Sweden vs Austria

Sweden will be looking for revenge at the Friends Arena in Stockholm on Tuesday, when Austria come to town, and also a vital win to get back in the hunt for a qualification place in a highly competitive Group F.

Austria won the return match in June thanks to late goals from Christoph Baumgartner earning them a 2-0 victory, and they are joint leaders of the Group, alongside the powerhouse of Belgium. Both teams have ten points from four games and Sweden are four points further back. The hosts come into the game on the back of a thumping 5-0 win in Estonia, and that makes this upcoming fixture, Euro 2024: Sweden vs Austria so much more enticing.

While Sweden were firing their way back into group contention, Austria drew a friendly against Moldova; and now the Sweden vs Austria betting odds say we are in for a battle royal in sunny Stockholm.

Talking Points

Isak can fire Sweden to Germany

Janne Anderson’s Sweden showed how much firepower they have against Estonia and they shared the goals around. Wide man Dejan Kulusevski is a key part of Tottenham Hotspur’s high flying team and he bagged a goal in the 5-0 win. Newcastle United star Alexander Isak and Sporting CP’s striker Viktor Gyokores both scored in the rout too, alongside Robin Quaison and Viktor Claessen.

Andersson has picked out Isak in particular for attention, as he believes the Premier League hot shot is ready to take another step up and become a leader for the Swedes. The 23 year old already has 41 caps for his country and Andersson believes he can improve on his goal per game ratio from ten in 41. Quaison and Gyokeres both have similar ratios but Isak is a Champions League player now and he has the most potential of the talented bunch.

UEFA EURO 2024

ItalyUkraine

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Isak has made five assists for his country too and, if he keeps firing then Sweden will start to beat the tougher sides. They also drubbed Azerbaijan 5-0, but as well as losing to Austria Andersson’s men slumped to a home defeat against Belgium.

At the other end of the pitch Aston Villa’s experienced keeper Robin Olsen has been getting game time at Villa Park, due to an injury to World Cup winner Emi Martinez, and he will start between the sticks. And the team is skippered by Manchester United centre back Victor Lindelof. They will score goals but they need to be on their game from back to front if Sweden are to prove they are not just flat track bullies.

Solid Austria will make it tough

Head coach Ralf Rangnick has transformed Austria into a solid outfit which has its sights set on a trip across to border to Germany next year. Skippered by Real Madrid’s wing back David Alaba, who has reached 102 caps for his country, Austria have beaten Estonia, Azerbaijan and Sweden at home as well as earning an impressive 1-1 draw away to group favourites Belgium.

Christoph Baumgartner of Austria will try to score goals against Sweden in Group F in the Euro 2024 qualifiers

Christoph Baumgartner scores the second goal of Austria against Sweden

The Red Bull Leipzig midfield trio of Baumbartner, Xaver Schalger and Nicolas Seiwald are ready to line up across the middle of the park and Austria have two experienced strikers to test Lindelof’s defence. Veteran striker Marko Arnautovic has joined Inter Milan on loan from Bologna this year and, with 34 goals from 109 internationals, he is a proven hitman, while SC Freiburg’s Michael Gregoritsch, five years younger at 29, is a powerful figure at 6ft 4in tall and he has a one in four goal ratio for club and country.

Where Austria may be stretched is in defence where, Alaba apart, they are a little short of international experience.

History

The Austrians have had the better of the recent head-to-head Sweden vs Austria results with six wins to Sweden’s three over the past ten meetings, including the last three encounters, and the 1-1 draw came before that sequence in 2014.

Austria are unbeaten in their last six games, winning four and drawing two, while Sweden have won four and drawn two over that period.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐

Sweden VS Austria

September 13, 02:45 (GMT +8)

Sweden Asian Handicap -0.25

@ 2.11

Sweden are priced at SBOTOP odds of 2.38 to win this game with Austria at 2.50 and the draw is at 3.01.

It will be a tight encounter and the visitors know that a point will put them in a very strong position to finish in the top two of Group F. A 1-0 home win is priced at 5.80 and I suspect that is where we are heading. Austria will be stubborn but Sweden will be well aware how important this game is, and they come into the clash bang in form.

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SBOTOP 12-Oct 2023 Thursday 8:06 PM (245 days ago)            #7
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Euro 2024: Scotland on the Brink While Spain Eye Top Spot

Spain vs Scotland

The two top teams in qualifying Group A meet in Seville on Thursday night as Euro 2024: Spain vs Scotland is the offer and it’s sure to deliver some top-level drama.

Steve Clarke’s Scotland are the surprise package in this group, and they can qualify for the European showcase next year with a win in Spain. But that is a tall order against Luis de la Fuente’s Spain, who desperately need the points to keep their campaign on track.

La Roja sit six points behind Scotland with a game in hand, so a home win will put them in the driving seat, with a strong Norway side lurking just two points behind the hosts. The Euro 2024 betting odds are backing the hosts heavily, and anything other than a home win could make it a famous night for the Tartan Army.

Spain will come into the game on the back of a 6-0 thumping of Cyprus in the qualifiers, while Scotland lost 1-3 at home to England in a September friendly.

Talking Points

Fati and Zaragoza in for Spain

We could be entering a golden era in Spanish football with the domestic league becoming ever more competitive and the national team boasting an exciting young squad, with the likes of Barcelona’s Gavi and Ferran Torres in the frame and their team-mate Pedri on the way back from injury.

And De La Fuente has drafted two more young stars into his group for the Scotland game. 20-year-old striker Anus Fati, now on loan at Brighton and Hove Albion, and Granada’s 22-year-old forward Bryan Zaragoza have both received the manager’s call.

Zaragoza is in line for an international debut after impressing over the past 12 months in Granada’s promotion campaign, and he already has five goals so far this season, including two in a 2-2 draw against Barcelona last weekend.

At 5 feet 5 inches he has a low centre of gravity and his quick feet and sublime skill on the ball helped Zaragoza terrorize the Blaugrana defence and he was unlucky not to complete a hat-trick.

The Spanish young guns have experience to look up to. Atletico Madrid’s Alvaro Morata has been in superb form this season, and he will lead the line again, with either Fati and Zaragoza playing off him, while Manchester City ace Rodri will pull the strings in midfield.

The Finish Line is in view for Scotland

Can Scott McTominay score against Spain in Euro 2024?

Scotland’s Scott McTominay during their training for the upcoming Euro 2024 match

The Tartan Army are already packing their bags for Germany after a sensational opening five games. Scotland made a flying start to their campaign with wins over Cyprus, Spain, and Norway in the bag, and by the time they met Georgia in Round Four, Clarke’ men were way out in front of he rest.

The Scots won that game and have beaten Cyprus again to put them within touching distance of the finals.

The Scots can qualify on Thursday night, but if Norway win both their games over the next week, then a defeat for Clarke’s men will leave them waiting until November when they play the Norwegians and Georgia at home.

It’s just a case of holding their nerve, and surely qualification will come sooner or later for Scotland.

The nation’s outstanding performer has been Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, who has six goals in the campaign, while Liverpool wingback Andrew Robertson remains an inspirational captain.

History

Spain are one of the most successful nations in 21st century Europe, winning the Euros in 2008 and 2012 and reaching the semi-finals in 2021, where they outplayed eventual winners Italy, but were unlucky to lose to the Azzurri on penalties. Scotland are hoping to qualify for the finals for the second time this century and they are so close.

La Roja have had much the better of the Euro 2024 results with three wins from the five previous meetings, one draw and one defeat in their head-to-heads. That defeat came in the second match of this qualifying group, when a McTominay double gave the Scots a stunning 2-0 victory.

McTominay bagged another brace only last Saturday as Manchester United came back to beat Brentford 2-1, with both goals coming in injury time.

Both teams come into the game in great form, with five wins out of six.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐

Spain VS Scotland

October 13, 02:45 (GMT+8)

Spain Asian Handicap -1.50

@ 1.86

Spain are at SBOTOP odds of 1.27 to win this huge match, with the draw at 5.03 and Scotland at 7.72.

Clarke’s men can almost dream of Germany, but they could get a dose of reality in Seville this week. I’d back Rodri to keep McTominay quiet, and Spain have the flair players to take advantage.

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SBOTOP 12-Oct 2023 Thursday 8:08 PM (245 days ago)            #8
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Euro 2024: There are Few Bigger Clashes than Orange and Blue

Netherlands vs France

When it comes to this week’s Euro 2024 qualification matches, there was one in particular that stood out to this SBOTOP writer.

Netherlands vs France is as big as it gets in this round of fixtures, and for football purists, it’s always a match to look forward to. The Dutch, the inventors of Total Football, have not been at their best over the past decade, but there have been signs in recent times that former playing legend Ronald Koeman is ready to bring back some former glory.

Didier Deschamps’ France, of course, have been the top European nation for a decade, though the FIFA World Rankings have consistently rated Belgium higher. But France wins competitions whereas their neighbours don’t. And both these teams are ranked in the top ten: Les Bleus at third and the Oranje at tenth.

Both come into the game in fine form. The Netherlands have won their last three qualification games, while France have won all five of theirs, so Les Bleus sit proudly on top of Group B with 15 points, six ahead of the Netherlands, who have a game in hand. Greece are in third place, level on points, with the Oranje having also played a game more.

The Johan Cruyff Arena is the perfect stage for two talent-filled football nations to show what they can do, and Amsterdam will be smoking on Friday.

Talking Points

No Gakpo for the Oranje

The Netherlands’ game against Greece was a must win for the Oranje who started the match in fourth place; and they came through with flying colours, winning 3-0 thanks to goals from Liverpool star Cody Gakpo, Marten De Roon and Wout Weghorst.

The recent win over Ireland saw Gakpo and Weghorst score again, but the Liverpool man is out of the running for this game having picked up an injury in the Reds’ recent loss to Tottenham Hotspur. That means the Netherlands front line will likely feature two of Weghorst, Donyell Malen, and Steven Bergwijn.

The Netherlands’ strength in recent years has been their ability to turn defence into attack, and while they have some of the best central defenders in the world, Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk and Manchester City’s Nathan Ake are likely to start; they have some brilliant attacking wingbacks.

Denzel Dumfries is expected to score for Netherlands in their Euro 2024 game against France

Denzel Dumfries in action during their Serie A match against Sassuolo

The experienced Daley Blind now plays for Girona, while the standout fullback in recent years has been the livewire Denzil Dumfries. He’s sure to feature heavily in the Euro 2024 highlights, and Chelsea’s left-sided player Ian Maatsen is the next exciting prospect.

New centre back pairing for Les Bleus

While the Oranje have a settled centre-back pair, there will be a change for Les Bleus in the heart of their defence as Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano, and now Arsenal star William Saliba have all been made unavailable.

While young replacements Malo Gusto and Axel Disasi have been drafted into the squad, Deschamps is likely to opt for a makeshift, but more experienced, pairing at the heart of defence. Liverpool’s 24-year-old centre-back Ibrahima Konate and PSG’s 27-year-old utility player Lucas Hernandez will take on the responsibility, despite having never played together in that role.

France took on the Republic of Ireland in their last qualifier, winning 2-0 and then lost a friendly to Germany with Antoine Griezmann scoring Les Bleus’ goal in a 2-1 reversal. Griezmann will likely line up alongside Kylian Mbappe up front, with Ousmane Dembele and Olivier Giroud also primed for action.

This is a highly potent attack and the Euro 2024 betting odds reckon it will fire Les Bleus to glory in Germany.

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History

The Netherlands were the 1988 European Champions and reached the final of the 2010 World Cup, but the French have an even more impressive recent history, with two World titles and two European crowns, including the most recent Euro 2000 win.

France have won seven of the 11 meetings with the Netherlands, losing three and drawing one. And Les Bleus won the home qualifier leg 4-0 back in March this year, as Mbappe grabbed a brace with Griezmann and Upamecano both on target.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐

Netherlands VS France

October 14, 02:45 (GMT+8)

Over 2.50

@ 1.96

The Netherlands are at a price of 2.68 to win this game, with France at 2.23 and the draw at 3.26, and it’s certainly a tough one to call. The Oranje have home advantage, but they face a fierce opponent, and if the Netherlands go for the win, I suspect there will be goals at both ends.

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SBOTOP 12-Oct 2023 Thursday 8:09 PM (245 days ago)            #9
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Euro 2024: Winner Takes It All in Vienna

Austria vs Belgium

The venue is the striking Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna; the prize is a big one.

Put simply, when Austria and Belgium meet on Friday night, the winner will take it all.

Qualification for Euro 2024 awaits the victors as the two runaway leaders in European Championship qualifying Group F go head-to-head.

Belgium may be ranked second in the world but have only won three of their last seven outings, while Austria (ranked 33rd) are on a four-match winning streak in all competitions.

So, could we be in for a home party?

Talking Points

When these two met in Brussels in June, the contest ended 1-1.

They remain the only points that either nation have dropped in a pool that also comprises Sweden and the minnows of Azerbaijan and Estonia.

On that occasion Eden Hazard received a farewell ceremony on the field together with his former team-mates.

Romelu Lukaku will captain against Austria in Euro 2024 qualifying game

Romelu Lukaku was named Belgium captain for the draw with Austria

The Belgian playmaker also enjoyed an honorary lap around the field when Austria’s supporters, sportingly, stayed behind to applaud.

There is an irony then, in the week Hazard officially retired from football, that one of the pin-up boys of their ‘golden generation’ – one which produced magic moments but, ultimately no silverware (a third place finish at the 2018 World Cup represents their best achievement) – this fixture presents with an opportunity to complete the first chapter in their evolution.

For Belgium are very much needing to rediscover their mojo following a disappointing outing at last year’s World Cup when they were knocked out in the group stage itself, despite being one of the pre-tournament favourites.

The Red Devils of international football are certainly eager to put that behind them and, with Roberto Martinez resigning in the wake of Qatar 2022, Domenico Tedesco was handed the reins of the national team.

Austria also have a fairly new man at the helm, although Ralf Rangnick has been there since last summer, appointed as his interim role as manager of Manchester United was drawing to a close.

His task is to ensure the Austrians reach a major tournament for only the fourth time in a quarter of a century.

There is room for optimism for Austrians for, while the nation has not reached a World Cup Finals since 1998, they have made the Euros twice since their maiden appearance in 2008.

Three years ago they reached the last 16 and pushed eventual winners Italy all the way in extra-time.

During his six months in charge at Old Trafford, Rangnick became the first United manager in 20 years to appoint a full-time sports psychologist as he vowed to “get into the hearts, brains and blood” of his players.

UEFA EURO 2024

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Throughout his career, his methods have reportedly not been to everyone’s liking but he has carried out a steady job since taking charge and has not lost a game since a Nations League defeat to Croatia just over a year ago.

That period has included impressive successes over reigning European champions Italy, and European Championship qualifying highlights via a double success over Sweden.

Overall, I do expect both Austria and Belgium to qualify for next summer’s showpiece – the winner on Friday night will be first past the post.

History

Austria last defeated Belgium in 1959.

Since then, the two teams have met six times with two Belgian victories and four draws, including that 1-1 sharing of the spoils in June.

On that occasion, Romelu Lukaku cancelled out Michael Gregoritsch’s first half opener for the visitors.

When they last met in Austria in a Euro 2012 qualifying tie in March 2011, an Axel Witsel double sealed a 2-0 Belgium victory,

The earlier fixture, five months earlier, had remarkably ended 4-4 with both nations scoring goals in the 90th minute.

Overall, Belgium have actually only defeated the Austrians twice with four draws and nine Austrian triumphs.

Their very first meeting came in a friendly in December 1925 in Ougree.

It was a seven goal thriller won by the Austrians with Gustav Wieser, Johann Horvath, Wilhelm Cutti and Viktor Hierlander their marksmen as they raced into a 3-0 lead inside 10 minutes.

Yvan Thys, Maurice Gillis and Raymond Braine replied for Belgium.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐⭐

Austria VS Belgium

October 14, 02:45 (GMT+8)

1X2 Draw

@ 3.20

The SBOTOP European Championship qualifying betting odds give a slight edge to Belgium.

They are on offer 1X2 @ 2.43 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.21.

Austria are priced slightly away from that, 1X2 @ 2.64 and Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 2.42.

Another 1-1 draw will pay out @ 5.20 with Correct Score.

If you think there will be a fair few goals, over 2.75 is priced @ 2.25, total goal 0-1 @ 3.85, 2-3 @ 1.81 and 4-6 @ 3.50.

I think these two are closely matched and both will have to wait to seal their place at Euro 2024 as my *** tip is 1X2 Draw @ 3.20.

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SBOTOP 12-Oct 2023 Thursday 8:11 PM (245 days ago)            #10
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Euro 2024: Portugal Seek to Pierce the Slovak Bulwark

Portugal vs Slovakia

Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the Portuguese squad have been flawless in the Euro 2024 qualifiers, and they have yet to find a threatening adversary. Slovakia, however, are just a few points behind Portugal in Group J, and if there’s a team that has a good chance to prove worthy for Selecao, it would be the Slovaks.

The Slovak Flacons can attest to this as soon as Friday when they visit the potent Portugal team on their home soil at Estadio do Dragao for Matchday 7 of the Euro 2024 qualification round.

Talking Points

No Ronaldo, no problem

Portugal have been undefeated in their first six games in Group J of the Euro 2024 qualifiers. That alone is an impressive accomplishment from the European giant. Nobody anticipated what they did against Luxembourg last month, despite the fact that they are now in the midst of their finest recent run of play and are positioned to win their group at Euro 2024.

Portugal hosted Luxembourg at the Estádio Algarve last month. The home squad was without their star Cristiano Ronaldo, who was suspended because of an accumulation of yellow cards in earlier Group J games. But it turns out, they didn’t need Ronaldo to rack up their biggest-ever win in a competitive match.

The home squad thrashed Luxembourg with a barrage of goals, leading to a record 9-0 victory.

“We cannot say that the team plays better without Ronaldo. He is very important to us, as is Pepe. Their energy and hard work contribute a lot to our team. We also need to give Gonçal Ramos and Jota the opportunity to show their skills. Ronaldo has experience and a special lifestyle, so we don’t need to compare. Our team is ready to win even without him,” Roberto Martinez, Portugal’s head coach, stated.

With or without Ronaldo, one thing is certain: Portugal are currently in a league of their own.

Slovakia boasts their defence

Slovakia’s defence has been the star for the Slovak falcons. Their mighty defence has helped them to the second seed in Group J of the Euro 2024 qualifiers. The nations in Group J are attacking assassins, but Slovakia’s defence is holding up well; during qualification, they have only allowed two goals.

Slovakia set their sights on revenge against Portugal in the Euro 2024

Slovakia players looking disappointed after their defeat to Portugal last September

The Slovaks are on a stellar run in their Euro 2024 campaign. They have lost just one of their first six games in the qualifiers. That setback came against a potent Portugal team, who, in their recent form, are far superior to their opponents.

Even though Portugal have been playing out of their minds recently, Slovakia only held them to one goal. It’s not because the Portuguese were bashful with their attacks that night, but because of the high level defence shown by the Slovaks.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka is the bulwark who spearheads their defence. During their last outing against Portugal, the veteran keeper ferociously defended their goal from a flurry of strong and creative Portuguese attacks. On one occasion, he and former teammate Ronaldo got into an unfortunate clash. Not the Euro 2024 highlights fans were hoping for.

Martin Dubravka grabbed the ball as the Al-Nassr attacker slid for it, causing Ronaldo’s spikes to find Dubravak’s neck, shoulder, and chest. “These are situations when the goalkeeper closes his eyes and tries only to block the shot, and he, as a striker, has to go after such a ball. I don’t blame him. It’s sport, it’s football. Situations like this belong to it. Of course, he realised he hit me. He asked me if I was OK. I take it sportingly.” he said to reporters.

Slovakia would need more of this defencive tenacity in their rematch against the Portuguese on Friday. The rest of the Slovak Falcons would definitely turn to Martin Dubravka for leadership and initiative.

History

These two teams had only met three times since 2005. Slovakia can’t seem to figure out how to deal with the Portuguese brand of football, as they have never won a match against them. The closest the Slovak falcons got was in a 1-1 draw in the World Cup qualifiers back in 2005.

The last time these clubs met was when the Slovaks hosted Roberto Martinez and his team at Tehelné Pole for a European Championship Qualifying Group Stage bout last month. The match was neck and neck as both teams had compelling attacks at the goal.

The home team, which was invigorated by the chants of their patrons, came off the gates with an aggressive playstyle. They controlled the tempo as they pushed the ball every chance they got. Offence was the name of the game for the Slovaks early on. They made a lot of convincing attempts, but all failed to find the back of the net.

Bruno Fernandes took matters into his own hands when he had an amazing carry on the right wing before launching a powerful strike minutes before halftime. Martin Dúbravka didn’t stand a chance against the missile of a strike that went from Bruno’s foot to the back of the net in a blink of an eye.

That lone goal was enough for Portugal to outlast the Slovak onslaught and retain Portugal’s perfect record.

Both teams are coming into this match after emphatic wins, and both will use that as momentum to set themselves apart in this Euro 2024 Group J rematch.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐

Portugal VS Slovakia

October 14, 02:45 (GMT+8)

First Half 1X2 Portugal

@ 1.68

Given their head-to-head history and Portugal’s terrific form in the past few months, it’s only fitting that the Navigators are the heavy favourites to win this match.

The SBOTOP Euro 2024 betting odds rightfully have Portugal at 1.24 to win and Slovakia at 7.60 as the underdogs. Personally, I think that 1.26 doesn’t have much value as the probability of Portugal winning is close to certainty.

Good thing the price to win the first half at 1.68 shows enough value to bet on. Just like their last match, I believe Portugal have been such a dominating force that they can blow this game open before halftime. Keep in mind that they just defeated Luxemburg, scoring a record-breaking nine goals while giving up none.

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SBOTOP 20-Oct 2023 Friday 2:31 PM (237 days ago)            #11
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Euro 2024: Kane at the Double as England Head to Germany

England 3-1 Italy

As European Championships qualifying performances and results go, England boss Gareth Southgate could hardly have asked for more.

A come from behind victory against the reigning European champions, a qualification double over the side that broke their hearts in the summer of 2021 and mission accomplished with two games to spare.

Yes, the real time to judge England and Southgate will be at a major tournament and yes, next summer’s spectacle in Germany may be his final chance to avoid being tagged as English football’s ‘nearly man’.

But if this qualifying campaign is anything to go by, he and his team can barely have done more.

These Euro 2024 qualifying highlights at Wembley, inspired by the prodigious talent that is Jude Bellingham, were a sight to behold and poke of real promise.

Highlights of the game

In this Euro 2020 Final re-run, Southgate made sweeping changes from the side that edged past Australia in last Friday’s friendly.

Midfielder Kalvin Phillips started, while captain Harry Kane returned as did Bellingham, Marcus Rashford and centre backs Harry Maguire and John Stones.

The SBOTOP European Championships qualifying betting odds backed the hosts who seemed better stocked to cover the absence of the likes of Reece James, Luke Shaw and Bukayo Saka – the latter out with a thigh injury.

By contrast, Italy had lost Federico Chiesa to injury, joining the likes of Ciro Immobile, Ivan Provedel and Mattia Zaccagni on the sidelines, and did not seem to have the depth to cover.

In addition, Newcastle United’s new recruit, Sandro Tonali, along with Nicolo Zaniolo, had withdrawn following recent gambling allegations.

Luciano Spalletti and Italy failed to win against England in the Euro 2024

Italy coach Luciano Spalletti during their match against England

Mansager Luciano Spalletti had planned to tap into the recent Premier League experience of that duo who were available to feature, although Spalletti defended the decision when he commented: ‘We cannot take two kids who are shaken up by what’s happened to play a match like this.’

He could have done with their know-how, in truth, even if they made a decent start, opening the scoring with their first real attack after 13 minutes.

After Declan Rice missed the ball, Italy sent Giovanni Di Lorenzo down the right and his cross was pulled-back, dummied, and fired home by one-time West Ham striker Gianluca Scamacca for his first international goal on the evening of his 13th cap.

It was the first goal England had conceded at home in 2023.

That advantage lasted until the half hour when Di Lorenzo went from creator to conceder as he slid in on Bellingham in the box and Kane sent goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma – one of the heroes of the Azzurri’s Euro 2020 triumph – the wrong way from the spot.

It was his 60th goal for his country and he was to get another before his evening was out.

Twelve minutes after the restart and they had the lead.

Again, Bellingham was key as he won possession and set them forward, finding the ruthless Rashford who showed great skill to cut inside and smash a low shot into the bottom corner.

Kane completed the fine comeback and a fine night for England when he collected a pass from substitute Marc Guehi and drove forward before firing beyond a helpless Donnarumma.

It is half a century since the late, great Bobby Moore gained the last of his 108 caps, ironically against Italy.

It is 12 years since Fabio Capello, who scored that game’s only goal in 1973, resigned as England manager.

He was at Wembley watching on.

BUNDESLIGA

Borussia Dortmund

Werder Bremen

1X2 Draw @ 4.80

First Half Under 1.25 @ 2.26

Total Goals 4-6 @ 2.15

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The pain of 2021 has now been etched away; now for defeating the big boys in the latter stages of a major competition.

Key statistics

Kane has now moved one ahead of the great Bobby Charlton for goals at Wembley (243). He has also contributed to goals in his last six games in European Championship qualifiers (six goals, two assists).

Kane has been directly involved in 33 goals in his last 30 appearances for England (27 goals and six assists), including either scoring or assisting in each of his last 10 games for the Three Lions.

Bellingham has been directly involved in 16 goals in 13 appearances for club and country this term.

Before this evening, Italy had been unbeaten in five of the last six matches against England.

What’s next?

There’s still a few fixtures to play for both nations before the year is out.

England have qualifiers to come at home to Malta (Nov 17) and away to North Macedeonia three days later. On the same day, Italy host North Macedonia before facing Ukraine.

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SBOTOP 21-Nov 2023 Tuesday 5:11 PM (205 days ago)            #12
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Euro 2024: This Match is All About Les Bleus

Greece vs France

When France head to the historic city of Athens on Tuesday there isn’t a lot to play for in terms of qualification; but both Les Bleus and their hosts, Greece, have a real purpose.

Greece need to gather some momentum; and that means not taking a hammering from Didier Deschamps’ team which has just cruelly dismantled Gibraltar. France will be keen to finish their campaign with a 100 per cent record and the eyes of the world will be on Kylian Mbappe and co.

The Netherlands started this round of Group B fixtures locked on 12 points, level with Greece but with a game in hand. But a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland on Saturday has confirmed the Oranje’s attendance at Euro 2024 in Germany, while third placed Greece, already six points ahead of Ireland, know they are heading for the play-offs.

Is Les Bleus’ 100 per cent record really under threat when they meet Greece in Athens? It is…but I don’t really believe the French will fall.

Talking Points

Record breakers

Olivier Giroud had already scored 3 goals in Euro 2024 qualifiers

Olivier Giroud in action during France’s match against Gibraltar

France’s lust for goals was spectacularly on display on Saturday when they met Gibraltar, but it was a painful experience for the islanders. Les Bleus won 14-0, a record score line as Mbappe scored a hat-trick and Olivier Giroud climbed off the bench to bag a late brace. Giroud is France’s top scorer of all time, with 56 goals, but Mbappe is in hot pursuit with 46.

The 14 goal rout was made easier when Gibraltar had a player sent off with just 18 minutes on the clock and it beat the previously most brutal bashing in the competition, a 13-0 win for Germany over San Marino, in qualifying for Euro 2008. France’s biggest win before Saturday was a 10-0 thrashing of Azerbaijan in 1995. And there was another record breaker who had a mixed night; 17 year old Warren Zaire-Emery became Les Bleus’ youngest ever goal scorer on his debut, but the PSG academy player later went off injured.

Mbappe will be keen to continue his stellar campaign; the PSG man fired Les Bleus to Germany in a 2-1 win away to the Netherlands and his thirst for goals is never quenched….and that is not good news for the Greeks. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal are homing in on a perfect campaign record, looking for their tenth win from ten when they meet Iceland on Sunday night, and Les Bleus are set to follow the Selecao with a perfect set of Euro 2024 results.

This match is a useful benchmark for Greece

With the play-off ordeal to come Greece need to be on their game, and you can’t get a better test than the rampant French team. But Gus Poyet’s team are in pretty good shape, with three wins from the last four. They come intothis game on the back of a 2-0 friendly win over New Zealand and looked the stronger side throughout. Greece went ahead through a Michael Wood own goal and Giorgos Giakoumakis smashed in a rebound to make it 2-0 on 28 minutes.

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Olympiacos forward Giorgos Masouras is a lively customer but he may struggle to see much of the ball against a star studded France line-up, while Liverpool defender Kostas Tsimikas may expect a busier night. Manager Poyet is a proud man and he will instil that sense of pride when his team takes on arguably the best international side on the planet. The hosts will need to be at their very best but they will leave nothing on the pitch.

History

France are twice champions of Europe, in 1984 and 2000, but their opponents have been the Kings of Europe more recently. Greece were European champions in 2004 when they upset the odds by beating Portugal 1-0.

The early Euro 2024 betting odds say it could well be another successful year for Les Bleus.

When the two teams met earlier in this competition France won a hard fought game 1-0. Mbappe scored a retaken penalty after Greek defenders encroached. The spot kick was awarded when Konstantinos Mavropanos almost booted Antoine Griezmann’s head off and the Greece defender later received his marching orders for a foul on Randal Kolo Muani.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐⭐

Greece VS France

November 22, 03:45 (GMT+8)

1X2 France

@1.61

The SBOTOP odds point to a France victory and who am I to argue with that?! Greece can be backed at 5.75 or the Draw at 3.95, but I don’t think they’ll stop Les Bleus from reaching their goal…and scoring a few.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

⭐= €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 21-Nov-2023 at 5:11 PM





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SBOTOP 21-Nov 2023 Tuesday 5:12 PM (205 days ago)            #13
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Euro 2024: Wales Desperate for a Pre-Christmas Boost from Turkiye

Wales vs Turkey

Time is running out for Wales; and Rob Page’s team has lost control. They need a treat; they need some luck and they need the stars to align.

While Euro 2024: Wales vs Turkey is a huge game for the Red Dragons, Turkiye players and fans are already planning for their trip to Germany next year. Vincenzo Montella has led the Turks to the top of the group and they fully deserve their place at the Euro finals. But Wales have just shot themselves in the foot.

The Dragons drew away to Armenia at the weekend while Croatia beat Latvia, and those two results left Wales in third place in Group D, two points behind Croatia and now staring the peril of the play-offs in the face. Group leaders Turkiye thumped Latvia last time out and warmed up for this tie with an impressive 3-2 win over Germany.

The nerves will be jangling at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday; but not in the away end where the Turkish fans will be having a party.

Talking Points

Wales have lost control of their own destiny

At the start of this Group D campaign Page’s team was joint favourites alongside Croatia but, after a decidedly mixed set of performances, they are now relying on results elsewhere. Firstly they have to find a way to beat the group leaders and then they must hope that Croatia fail to win in their home tie against fourth placed Armenia. Should both Wales and Croatia lose then the Dragons would drop into the obscurity of fourth place, and that was unthinkable back in March.

Connor Roberts prepares on Wales’ upcoming Euro 2024 match against Turkey

Wales’ Connor Roberts in action Armenia

Croatia fans will be watching the Wales vs Turkey updates, of course they will; but I expect Luka Modric and his team to do the business for themselves.

So how did it go wrong for Wales on Saturday?

Well, the Dragons went 1-0 down early in their match in Yerevan, when Lucas Zelerayan hit a blistering drive past Danny Ward with just five minutes on the clock. Wales know Zelerayan well, because he scored twice when the two teams met in Cardiff. Only an own goal from the head of Nair Tiknizyan breached the Armenian defence, he diverted a long throw from Burnley’s Connor Roberts and that is a weapon Page may well employ against Turkey.

Skipper Ben Davies will do all he can to rally his troops in Cardiff. Back in the Premier League Davies’ club side Tottenham Hotspur are having a great season, but his country needs him now. He’s a born leader, a passionate Welshman and has a cool head in high pressure situations.

Wales are a full 25 places ahead of Turkiye in the FIFA rankings, 18th to 43rd, but the way this campaign has gone you could easily believe it was the other way around. The Wales vs Turkiye betting odds say Wales are the more likely team to win, but it won’t be easy.

Turkiye all set for Germany

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With five wins, one draw and one defeat Turkiye have had a dominant campaign, the only blemish being a loss to early favourites Croatia, but they exacted their revenge over the Croats in October. And Montella’s team showed just how good they are with a 3-2 friendly win away to Germany at the weekend. Ferdi Kadioglu, 18 year old Kenan Yildiz and Yusif Sari were all on target against the 2024 Euros hosts. It was Julian Nagelsmann’s first defeat on home soil as head coach, and Turkiye have put down a marker in readiness for the finals.

Premier League fans will know all about defender Caglar Soyuncu who transferred to Atletico Madrid in the summer, following Leicester City’s relegation from the Premier League. He’s a commanding centre back with 55 caps under his belt and he’s comfortable on the ball, able to make runs into the opposition half to launch attacks.

Elsewhere in the team, Fenerbahce star Ismail Yuksek is a midfield player who oozes class, and Wales will have a close eye on the Turkiye playmaker.

History

Turkiye have qualified for the Euros for the third time in succession and the sixth overall, with their best performance coming in 2008 when they reached the semi-finals, only to be beaten by a late goal in a 3-2 defeat by Germany.

Wales are trying to qualify for the third time, having made it first in 2016 and reaching the semi-final, losing 2-0 to Portugal in the semi-final. The Dragons qualified again in 2020 and reached the Round of 16, so Page and his boys have something to live up to.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐

Wales VS Turkey

November 22, 03:45 (GMT+8)

1X2 Draw

@3.25

At SBOTOP odds of 2.20 Wales are favourites to win this home game while Turkey can be backed at 3.25. The visitors will be relaxed but hard to beat and I think Wales will fall short.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (⭐) BETS ARE WORTH:

⭐⭐⭐= €20 (HIGHLY CONFIDENT)

⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 21-Nov-2023 at 5:12 PM





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SBOTOP 21-Nov 2023 Tuesday 5:14 PM (205 days ago)            #14
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Euro 2024: Who Can Grab Top Spot in Group I?

Romania vs Switzerland

European Championship qualifying heads to Bucharest and a clash between the top two in Group I.

Yes, it now may seem a little bit of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show and all that’ for, what looked like a potentially pivotal match for both nations, is now a far more relaxed affair.

Yet that’s not to say this will be an exhibition encounter as there’s still plenty to play for.

That’s because the winners will be in a higher pot for spring’s Euro 2024 draw which, in theory, means a more straightforward group stage to contend with in Germany.

Talking Points

Both unbeaten, Romania are currently at the summit on 19 points, two points ahead of second-placed Switzerland, after both nations confirmed their qualification on Saturday night.

The maths are simple: a draw on Tuesday would be enough to secure first position in the section and a place in Pot 2 for the finals draw.

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If the contest is level, Romania will be in Pot 2 and Switzerland in Pot 4, which would also be the same if Romania win, but if Switzerland were to seal the points, they would take first position and be included in Pot 2, with Romania falling into Pot 3 or 4.

Edward Iordanescu’s side will enter this off the back of successive wins over Andorra and Israel, although they will be without the services of Valentin Mihaila after the Parma midfielder was sent off during the clash with Israel on Saturday evening.

They recovered from Israeli forward Eran Zahavi scoring in the second minute, responding with goals from George Pușcaș and Ianis Hagi (son of the great Gheorghe). Israel was the official host team but the game was played in Hungary because of the Israel-Hamas war.

Switzerland, meanwhile, go into the contest off the back of a 1-1 draw with Kosovo on Saturday, which proved to be their third straight stalemate in this section.

The Swiss broke the deadlock two minutes after the break through a Ruben Vargas header before Muhamet Hyseni levelled for Kosovo eight minutes from time.

Switzerland hugely impressed me at the last European Championships when only a laughable decision arguably cost them a place in the semi-finals.

Their recent away form, though, leaves a lot to be desired and I think Romania may have the edge here.

History

Switzerland will aim to steal Romania's top spot in the Euro 2024 Group I

Switzerland players during their match against Romania last June 2023

Romania have won five of their meetings with five draws and four Swiss success.

Indeed, this fixture has been closely contested since their first ever clash in a World Cup qualifier in October 1933 which ended 2-2 in Berne.

That day Gratian Sepi and Stefan Dobay put Romania ahead before two goals from Erwin Hochstrasser and Ernst Hufschmid (penalty) earned a point apiece.

Their very first clash in a tournament was in the 1994 World Cup when Switzerland, managed by Roy Hodgson, ran out 4-1 winners.

That triumph came nearly 40 years to the date of Switzerland’s previous World Cup victory, also a 4-1 win (over Italy). Romania’s Ion Vlădoiu was sent off in that encounter, just three minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Alain Sutter, Stéphane Chapuisat and Adrian Knup (two) scored the goals with the great Gheorghe Hagi (one of the greatest playmakers of all time) replying for Romania who went onto knock out Argentina before bowing out to Sweden in a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals.

The Swiss were defeated by Spain in the last 16.

They have only met competitively twice since.

At Euro 2016 they drew 1-1 in the group stages when Bogdan Stancu slotted home a penalty before Admir Mehmedi equalised to become the first Swiss player to score in both the European Championships and World Cup finals tournament.

Their draw in Euro 2024 qualifying in June saw a remarkable finish.

Zeki Amdouni’s first half double had put the Swiss in the ascendancy before Valentin Mihăilă scored in the 89th and 92nd minute to earn an unlikely 2-2 draw in Lucerne.

Betting Tip

⭐⭐⭐

Romania VS Switzerland

November 22, 03:45 (GMT+8)

1X2 Draw

@3.25

The SBOTOP European Championship qualifying betting odds haven’t always offered much hope for Romania because of their sizeable gap with Switzerland in the FIFA men’s rankings. However, they are a young and hungry bunch who can prove doubters wrong. I am going to go for honours even in this one.

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⭐⭐= €10 (CONFIDENT)

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 21-Nov-2023 at 5:14 PM





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SBOTOP 21-Nov 2023 Tuesday 5:16 PM (205 days ago)            #15
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Euro 2024: Panic Over for the Oranje

With France, Belgium, Portugal, Spain and England all safely through to Euro 2024 in some comfort, all eyes have been on the other big names in European football this week, and there has been a huge sigh of relief in the Netherlands.

Ronald Koeman’s team has finally made it to the showcase in Germany thanks to a rocket of a finish from Hoffenheim striker Wout Weghorst in a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland. The win confirmed second place in Group B for the Oranje behind runaway winners France, who just put 14 goals past Gibralter, and the fanatical Dutch fans can now prepare to cross the border to Germany next summer. The Euro 2024 betting odds will place the Netherlands as a last eight candidate, but their supporters will be hoping for more.

There will be a sea of Orange in the stadia at the Euro finals and that is always a welcome sight, but it has been a nervous conclusion to the campaign. The Netherlands crucial victory over Ireland was much more comfortable than the score line suggests though, as the visitors only registered three shots throughout the game while their hosts fired 19 in on the Ireland goal.

There is still another giant of football in danger and a huge match in store on Monday night when reigning champions Italy visit Ukraine to compete for the second spot in Group C. With three wins from four the Azzurri seems to be finding form at the right time and they currently hold the second place. Both teams are assured of a play-off spot at least, but that is the last thing Italy would want to go through now, having missed out on two consecutive World Cups. Ukraine are at a big SBOTOP price of 4.64 to give the Azzurri another nightmare.

Haaland misses out again

Erling Haaland and Norway have failed to qualify in the Euro 2024

Erling Haaland during their match against Faroe Islands

When the best players in Europe line up in Germany next summer there will be one huge omission, and it’s a player who many defenders across Europe will be delighted to avoid; none other than Erling Braut Haaland. His team, Norway, weren’t even playing on Saturday night when they went out of the competition. They needed Israel to beat Romania to keep their hopes alive but the Romanians confirmed their place with a 2-1 win in Israel, coming back from a goal down.

Israel will meet Bosnia as the top two in the Path B play-offs but the door has been slammed shut on Norway. Haaland is yet to play at a major finals; in fact Norway haven’t been in a World Cup since 1998 or in a European Championships since 2000. For a team currently ranked 42nd in the world that is a big disappointment, particularly as their Scandinavian neighbours, Denmark and Sweden have been regular participants and even Finland and Iceland have graced the big finals.

With 27 goals in 29 internationals and an incredible 49 in 47 league games for Manchester City, Haaland is the most prolific goal scorer in world football and his absence from Germany 2024 will be a big miss. He didn’t feature in Norway’s final game with Scotland, a 3-3 draw.

Moldova still in it on Monday night

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Even more annoyingly for Norway fans it seems that Moldova, officially the fifth worst team in Europe, can still qualify for Germany 2024. After a distinctly average set of Euro 2024 results Moldova, ranked 157th in the world and with just two wins under their belts, can still qualify for their first ever tournament with a win over the Czech Republic on Monday night.

Only the minnows from Malta, Andorra, San Marino and Liechtenstein rank lower than Moldova who kept their hopes alive thanks to a late equaliser against Group E leaders Albania on Friday. They currently sit fourth in Group E but can rise to second place if they manage to beat the Czech Republic, who just need to avoid defeat to book their tickets to Germany.

On the face of it, you would expect the Czechs, who come into the game on the back of a hard earned 1-1 draw with Poland, to at least match Moldova but they do have one or two issues. Inspirational captain Tomas Soucek, who scored the Czech’s goal against the Poles, suffered a head injury and he will be assessed before the game. And three of the Czechs’ other players had a brain freeze in the aftermath of he clash with Poland, going out partying…and getting caught.

Soucek’s West Ham team-mate Vladimir Coufal, along with Jakub Brabec and Jan Kuchta, was sent home after being spotted in a nightclub in Olomouc on Saturday night. These issues can only help the Moldovans who have shown they are competitive, by matching the top team in the group last time out. If Moldova make it to the finals and Italy go out that would be a story!

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This message was edited by SBOTOP on 21-Nov-2023 at 5:16 PM





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