England v Wales
Thursday June 16, 11:00pm
The English media have been kind to Roy Hodgson after their first match despite his side extending their shocking record in Major tournament openers: W2-D7-L5 since 1986. The Three Lions impressed with the ball on Saturday evening but they failed to create enough clear cut chances – Harry Kane didn’t manage a touch in Russia’s penalty box – and Hodgson’s substitutions were very questionable.
Conversely, Wales fans will be delighted in gaining three points in their first Finals match since 1958. Their 2-1 victory over Slovakia puts them in a great position to qualify for the knockout stages and a point here would all-but guarantee it.
While England have historically struggled in their first game of Finals competitions they’ve followed it up with some great wins. Since Euro 2000, they’ve gone W5-D1-L1 including beating Germany and Argentina in that sample. The point against Russia, who we rate as the second best team in this pool, extended England’s unbeaten record in competitive matches to 12 matches (W10-D2-L0). Over a similar period and including friendlies, England have an incredible record facing sides ranked 41-80: W27-D11-L0 including seven wins in their last eight.
Wales have lost four of their last seven matches facing teams ranked 11-20 and they’ve lost to nil in their four matches against England since 2006. We have a huge 43 ranking places between these sides and looking at similar matches (when one side is 30-55 places above the other in group stage matches) we can see that the favourite team have won in 55% of the matches.
Even with such a disparity between the teams just 45% of these games have had Over 2.5 Goals and that immediately puts us off backing overs given Wales’ struggles against better teams.
Furthering the case for Unders is the record of lower-ranked teams who have won their first match facing higher-ranked teams who have picked up a draw in group stages of Finals: W11-D16-L13 with a huge 73% of Under 2.5 Goals games as the weaker sides have looked for a draw.
BACK – Under 2.5 Goals 1.82