Spain v France, Saturday 7.45pm RTE2 & ITV1
Spain are the defending champions, reigning World Cup champions and duly started the tournament as the favourites. Vincente Del Bosque’s team qualified as winners of Group C with two wins and a draw but have only looked impressive against Ireland. Which Croatia had already proved doesn’t take much. There’s no doubting the talent of their squad but their unconvincing showing against Croatia has seen them drop behind Germany in the outright betting. A common belief is that the players are too jaded to defend their crown.
France have dominated all of their games so far in terms of possession and chances but they still managed to come second to England in their group. Poor finishing has been their downfall so far and now sees them behind England and Italy in the outright betting.
Both teams have underperformed so far in the tournament. France haven’t been able to finish teams off when on top and Spain have only looked like the Spain we were expecting against the disappointing Irish.
Spain are big favourites at 17/20 but this promises to be a much closer game than the prices suggest.
France have world class players throughout their team. Going forward Franck Ribery (29) and Karim Benzema (24) have the ability to cut through any defence in the world and their have been positive signs from both players. Playing Spain is likely to bring the best out of the French and these two will be key in attack.
Spain will also respond to playing the French but if there is any truth to the jaded hypothesis, they could struggle to respond. They lack real threat in attack with Fernando Torres (28), despite his brace against Ireland, failing to fill the void left by the injured David Villa (30). Being substituted an hour in the game with Croatia suggests Del Bosque agrees.
There’s more value in France at 15/4 than you might think but I’m going for the draw in 90 minutes at 12/5.
A correct score bet…
Having plumped for the draw in the match betting I’ve limited my options in the correct score bet. Hopefully we’ll enjoy an open, attacking game where both sides play to their potential. If this happens then 3-3 at 100/1 will be worth a small punt.
However with neither team looking lethal in attack so far, I’d go for 1-1 with Paddy Power at 11/2.
A goalscorer bet to look for…
He had a great season with Real Madrid, playing his part in landing the La Liga crown. Cristiano Ronaldo may have hogged the headlines but Benzema made a significant contribution with 32 goals and 15 assists in 52 games. He has yet to score in this or any other international tournament but it’s only a matter of time. 8/1 says his time is now and Benzema will score the first.
We’ve still only seen one penalty awarded and no penalties scored in this tournament so far. A penalty to be scored in 90 minutes play is 7/2 with Paddy Power. And that’s knowing that Sergio Ramos will be on the pitch.