Can England get their Euro 2020 campaign underway with victory over 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia? Tom Carnduff has two best bets.
2pts Under 9 Corners at 13/8 (Sky Bet)
1pt Harry Kane to have 1+ assists at 11/2 (Betfair)
Even by the usual pre-tournament standards and expectation, England go into Euro 2020 with a real belief that they could finally end their wait to get their hands on this trophy. Some bookmakers have them as favourites, with France on offer for similarly low odds of around 5/1.
The Three Lions do have a decent enough squad this time around although defence remains a concern - particularly if Harry Maguire isn't fit to play in this game. It could see England switch to three at the back which causes issues in linking with the defence and attack.
They should have enough to secure victory here though against a Croatia side who haven't been able to build on their appearance in the World Cup final in 2018. This game will go a long way towards determining who will finish top of the group too, and Gareth Southgate's men look to be in a better position to do just that.
I'm not entirely sold on England's short price for success in the outright market but Croatia's form heading into the tournament means that it's difficult to look past the odds-on for a home victory here. While England have been picking up plenty of victories, Croatia have found wins difficult to achieve.
Zlatko Dalic's men have won just two of their last nine - those coming against Cyprus and Malta. They've been beaten by France, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden alongside Belgium in their final warm-up game. They also narrowly avoided relegation in the Nations League.
Even though the Nations League does draw criticism, it does give us an indication of where teams are at heading into a major tournament. Croatia lost all four games to France and Portugal - with all seeing over 2.5 goals and three going above a very high 4.5 line.
It would be fair to expect goals here given the firepower England have at their disposal and a weak Croatia backline.
While he is a short price to score, I'm drawn into the huge 11/2 available on HARRY KANE TO HAVE 1+ ASSISTS in this game given his impact this season.
That's an implied probability of just 15.4% but the striker earned the award for most assists alongside the Golden Boot in the Premier League. Kane finished with 14 in the league and 17 across all competitions and we can expect to see him dropping deep to link up the play throughout this tournament.
Kane has seen an assist in two of his last four England outings. He had five in Euro qualifying and got one when England beat Croatia to qualify for the finals of the Nations League in 2019. The Three Lions captain also assisted two in the victory in Spain in the same campaign.
He will be targeting the Golden Boot but assists are key as well. That could become a deciding factor in a tie breaker for Kane but the most important thing is success with his country.
Having players running beyond him, alongside individual talents such as Mason Mount, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, Kane has every chance of getting yet another assist on Sunday.
One bet that does stand out in this game concerns corners, and we're taking the 13/8 price with Sky Bet on UNDER 9 CORNERS. Recent averages have shown that they don't regularly see a high tally in this area and it could be a game that sticks to single figures.
It's often the case that games involving these two sides fail to hit the ten marker for corners. That's not to say that they haven't been involved at times where they see plenty but more often than not the tally remains single figures.
Across England's last ten games, whether that be friendlies or competitive matches, their total match corner count has been an average of 8.5. For Croatia, they score ever so slightly higher at 8.6. In fact, over that same period, both teams have seen seven of their ten games go under ten on corners.
Score prediction: England 2-1 Croatia (Sky Bet odds: 7/1)
Odds correct at 1520 BST (09/06/21)
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