Euro 2020 warm-ups parlay: Belgium will crush Croatia
We are just over a week away from the start of Euro 2020, and teams across Europe are putting in the final preparations with a series of warm-up games this weekend. While on paper there is little to play for in these friendlies, peel back a layer and they are a lot more important than you might think.
Managers want to send their teams into the tournament with a bit of momentum, players are fighting for their starting place in the team, and fans and the media expectation is at an all-time high with kick-off approaching.
So, with the cauldron of excitement bubbling, here is a weekend parlay to get you in the mood for UEFA Euro 2020.
Wales vs. Albania: Under 2.5 Goals (-157)
Optimism is high in the Welsh camp as the Dragons head towards Euro 2020. A solid qualifying campaign in which they finished runners-up to Croatia was followed by an unbeaten Nations League campaign as they won five and drew on to get promoted to League A.
A repeat of the run to the semi-finals they enjoyed in 2016 may be just a stretch too far, but the Welsh will be confident of another good European Championships. Unfortunately, though, Sunday’s friendly might be lacking a few pre-competition fireworks.
Wales are not particularly deadly in front of goal, finding the net on average just 0.83 times per game over the last 12 matches. In their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign the Welsh managed just 1.25 goals a game and that included low scoring 2-1 and 2-0 victories over Azerbaijan – a team ranked 110th in the world, 44 places below Albania.
Albania have proven a tough nut to crack for plenty of teams. Seven of their last 10 games have featured Under 2.5 goals, and they frustrated a strong England team back in March, holding them to just a 2-0 win.
Wales will expect to win this weekend, but it looks all teed up to be a low-scoring clash.
Scotland to beat Luxembourg (-155)
The Scots are also flying high after consecutive penalty shoot-out wins against Israel and Serbia meant that they are in their first major tournament since 1998. Admittedly, they are tipped to finish bottom of Group D, but don’t let that get in the way of a moral boosting win over lowly Luxembourg.
Are Luxembourg as bad as they sound? Yes. Their national football team was founded in 1908 and since then they’ve lost 76% of their 599 games and are currently ranked 96th in the world. They’ve scored three goals in their last seven games, and that includes defeats to Qatar and Cyprus.
Scotland are building up a head of steam following their Euro 2020 qualification, and in their last match twice took the lead against The Netherlands, who had to rely on Memphis Depay to score a brace to level the game at 2-2. Steve Clarkes’ men have found the back of the net in nine of their last 12 matches, and if they hit the target here it’s hard to see Luxembourg posing too many problems.
Belgium to beat Croatia (-117)
Belgium currently top the rankings in world football, and alongside France and England, are one of the favorites to win Euro 2020 this summer. They topped their qualifying group winning 10 out of 10 matches, scoring an average of four goals per game and conceding just three times. In their last 22 games they have won 18 of them, tasting defeat just once in a 2-1 loss to England.
Put simply, The Red Devils are in red-hot form.
Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne continue to weave their magic, while striker Romelu Lukaku is coming off a season with Inter Milan in which he scored 24 goals in 36 games and was crowned the league’s MVP.
Croatia are no pushovers, but they’ve only lost four of their last 12, and those wins have come against far weaker opposition. Going back to November 2018, they’ve lost five of their six matches against teams ranked in the world’s top 15 – their sole victory coming in a 2-1 win over Switzerland in October.
In the UEFA Nations League, Croatia avoided relegation by a single goal on goal difference after losing five of their six matches and conceding an average of 2.7 goals per game.
That’s the kind of statistic that will have Belgium’s attacking players licking their chops as they get set for the Euros.
England vs. Romania: Over 2.5 Goals (-182)
England were quite frankly labored in their 1-0 win over Austria earlier this week, but now they face a Romanian side who are no stranger to high-scoring thrillers. The last 12 games featuring Romania have had an average of 3.5 goals a game, and this bet would’ve clicked in 67% of them despite the opposition being considerably weaker than England.
That run of games featured a 3-2 loss to Armenia, a 3-2 win over North Macedonia, and a 5-3 win over Belarus. When that combination of teams manages eight goals against you, imagine what a team featuring Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, and Jude Bellingham could do.
Gareth Southgate’s side have scored 22 goals in their last 10 games, and showed just how free-scoring they could be in qualifying for Euro 2020 when they recorded the most goals per game, scoring 37 times in just eight matches. None of those games had Under 2.5 goals.
This is Southgate’s last match before the tournament begins, and given the national team’s relationship with the media, the manager will be keen to put in a good performance a week before the Euros.