24 teams have been whittled down to eight in this summer’s European Championships and there have been some unexpected casualties with Spain and England the most notable, whilst Wales and Iceland have been the surprise packages.
In this piece, we look at the quarter-finals with a focus on our ranking system, which is loosely based on ELO and has helped us in recommending both Champions League finalists this season. The quarter-finals are listed below, sorted by ranking difference, and the ‘to qualify’ price of the higher graded side is also shown.
What stands out immediately is the fact that in relation to the other prices, Portugal look on the short side to qualify against Poland, since we have these sides fairly close together on our rankings.
While the grading disparity between France and Iceland is not as big as that between Belgium and Wales, home advantage has to be factored in and that explains why France are a shorter price to qualify than Belgium.
Higher ranked teams have a W16-D12-L4 record in Euros and World Cup quarter-finals since 2000 with the higher ranked side progressing on 22 occasions and the lower ranked team 10 times.
Interestingly three of the instances of a lower ranked side winning in 90 minutes came when the grade difference was less than seven, while the other was a win for Greece over France in their triumphant Euro 2004 campaign.
There’s definitely an ‘unders’ trend in these games with 22 seeing Under 2.5 Goals (68.8%), 15 with Under 1.5 Goals (46.9%) and 15 were also goalless at half-time, while eight went on to finish 0-0 (25%).
Poland (21) v Portugal (15)
Friday July 1, 5:00am
The two sides that needed more than the 90 minutes in their last-16 clashes meet in the first quarter-final, with Portugal yet to record a win at the tournament and Poland also recording a pair of draws to go with narrow 1-0 triumphs over Northern Ireland and Ukraine.
If we narrow down our quarter-finals since 2000 to games where the ranking difference was 10 or less, the higher ranked side has a W12-D8-L3 record and has progressed on 16/23 occasions.
The ‘unders’ trend is particularly pronounced in these games in recent years as seven of the last 11 since Euro 2008 had Under 1.5 Goals.
If we filter our search further to only include clashes between sides that are both outside the world’s top 10, then the higher ranked team has a W3-D2-L0 record, progressing on each occasion without conceding a goal, though the sample size is admittedly small.
Nonetheless, the fact that Robert Lewandowski is struggling for Poland, who are the lowest scorers of the remaining sides, means that the Portugal clean sheet is worth backing at 2.2.
BACK – Portugal to Keep a Clean Sheet vs Poland at 2.2
Wales (43) v Belgium (13)
Saturday July 2, 5:00am
The 30 place gap between these two in our rankings is the biggest disparity between quarter-finalists in World Cups and Euros since Greece beat France in the 2004 European Championships.
Sides with a ranking advantage of more than 20 have a W3-D2-L1 record in these quarter-finals since 2000, as that French defeat against Greece was the only loss in 90 minutes. What’s more, those wins have come in the last three of these matches since 2012 and two were by more than one goal.
Wales are the lowest ranked side to make it to the quarters in this time and the form of their defeat against England hasn’t really worked out, while Belgium’s defeat against Italy now looks understandable given their performance against Spain.
Since the Belgians have bounced back strongly after that defeat, winning their last three without conceding, the best bet is for them to do the same here at 2.6.
BACK – Belgium to Win to Nil vs Wales at 2.6
Germany (1) v Italy (14)
Sunday July 3, 5:00am
Undoubtedly the tie of the round sees the World Champions Germany play Italy, who have arguably been the most impressive team at the tournament so far, having beaten both Belgium and Spain. In World Cup and Euro quarters since 2000 when both sides are in the top-15, the higher ranked team has a W9-D6-L3 record, progressing on 11/18 occasions (61.1%).
If we look at top-five sides playing top-15 teams in these games, they’re W7-D4-L3 over the same period as they progressed 9/14 times (64.3%).
Half of these games saw Under 1.5 Goals, including four of the last five and that looks the best bet in this one at 2.56, with these two the best sides defensively in the tournament so far as Germany are yet to concede a goal and Italy only conceded when they played a weakened team against the Republic of Ireland.
BACK – Under 1.5 Goals at 2.55
France (7) v Iceland (35)
Monday July 4, 5:00am
Sides with a ranking advantage of more than 10 have a W4-D4-L1 record in Euro and World Cup quarter-finals since 2000, with that sole defeat coming for France themselves against Greece in Euro 2004.
The higher ranked side progressed on 7/9 occasions and the ‘unders’ trend is very strong in these games, with 8/9 seeing Under 2.5 Goals. Iceland will be clinging to the fact that Greece, who were ranked 41st at the time managed to beat France whilst 36th placed South Korea made it past Spain on penalties in the 2002 World Cup.
Whilst it may be a big ask for Iceland to repeat those feats, we do expect them to at least find the net. Both teams have scored in three of the five quarters when there has been a grade difference of more than 10 since Euro 2008 and because France conceded against both Romania and Republic of Ireland, while Iceland have managed to score in their last 14 games, both teams to find the net looks the best bet at 2.5.
BACK – Both Teams to Score at 2.5
Having focused on each quarter-final, we now turn our attention to the outright market, where hosts France and World Champions Germany are the co-favourites at 4.0. The quarter-finalists are listed below along with their win prices, their price to make the semis, and their effective win price should they get that far, calculated by dividing their win price by their to qualify price.
France certainly look the worst value at 4.0 as the prices suggest that they’d be outsiders in their semi-final against either Germany or Italy and they’re yet to really impress at the tournament as they left it late against Romania and Albania in the group stages and had to come from behind against the Republic of Ireland.
Indeed, for those that have a strong view on the Germany-Italy clash, it’s certainly worth backing their fancy to win outright, though having a strong opinion on this one looks tricky. Indeed, we have the game much tighter than Germany’s win price of 2.25 suggests, so we’ve advised laying them at those odds in a game that we wouldn’t be surprised to see go beyond the 90 minutes.
With that in mind, Italy would be the bet at 7.5 from that half of the draw, but the fact that they would have to have overcome Spain, Germany and most likely France, the top three in the betting before the tournament began, suggests they could run out of steam come the final, much like they did in the last edition of this competition when they had to get out of a tough group with Croatia and Spain both in there, before they needed penalties to get past England and faced Germany in the semis.
As a result, we’d certainly look at the other half of the draw when it comes to an outright pick and the obvious place to start is Belgium, who we flagged up in our pre-tournament preview should they lose their opener to Italy, and are surprisingly a bigger price than France at this stage.
Both teams have similar level opponents in their quarter-final, but in the semis Belgium will play either Portugal or Poland and be favourites for that game, while France are likely to be outsiders against either Italy or Germany.
Since Portugal are only marginally worse off in our rankings than Belgium and Italy, they may look like better value than Belgium, but the fact that they have yet to win a game at the tournament is a real concern.
Even Greece managed a win in the group stage in their remarkable Euro 2004 triumph and as a result we’d certainly favour the Belgians should they meet Ronaldo and co. in the semis, and Portugal may well still be winless at that stage as we’re expecting a close encounter with Poland.
Indeed, we could see a similar scenario to the last edition of the tournament when Italy had the better of their opening group stage clash with Spain, who managed to come back from a goal down to get a draw in a game which they were definitely second best, but Spain improved as the tournament went on and had too much for a weary Italian side in the final.
BACK – Belgium to Win Euro 2016 at 5.5
BACK – Belgium/Italy Final at 11.0