Euro 2020 is here! The first game of the tournament takes place in Rome, as Turkey and Italy do battle. Jake Osgathorpe provides his best bet.
2pts Italy to win and Under 3.5 Goals at 21/20 (Bet365)
Italy have improved drastically over the past few years under the tutelage of Roberto Mancini, and look to have peaked at the right time.
They face a Turkey team in the Euro 2020 opener team who are also on the up, meaning this curtain raiser is set to be an intriguing encounter.
Heading into the tournament, Tukey have been touted as many people’s dark horses for the competition, and it is easy to see why.
Şenol Güneş’s side finished second in qualifying behind France, but did beat and draw with Les Bleus in their two head-to-head meetings on their way to conceding just three times in 10 games.
Disappointingly, they followed that success up with a bottom place finish in their Nations League B group, drawing too many games, but have since turned a positive corner again.
They trounced both the Netherlands (4-2) and Norway (3-0) in World Cup qualifying and head to the Euros on a six-game unbeaten run.
Ay-Yıldızlılar boast some really talented players, especially down the spine of their side, with Leicester’s Çağlar Söyüncü, Fenerbache’s Ozan Tufan, AC Milan’s Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Lille’s title winning hero Burak Yilmaz Turkey’s shining lights.
But, despite goals flowing post-Euro qualifying, I expect them to return to a more defensive approach here that has served them so well.
In what is set to be a very tight Group A, Italy do appear to be the standout team.
They were utterly dominant in qualifying, winning 10 out of 10 in an admittedly weak group, but their Expected Goals (xG) process throughout was excellent (3.10 xGF and 0.91 xGA per game).
Roberto Mancini’s charges are unbeaten in 27 international matches ever since losing to Portugal in September of 2018 in the Nations League, highlighting their resurgence.
They have kept clean sheets in 20 of those matches, while winning all of their last eight games to nil.
Often renowned for their defensive stability as a nation, this Italy team definitely have a solid defensive platform to build upon.
In attack, while they aren’t free-scoring they are hardly blunt, boasting some exceptionally talented players headlined by Lazio captain Ciro Immobile, Juventus winger Federico Chiesa and Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne.
Group A puts four strong defensive sides up against eachother, so goals aren’t expected flow in many group matches, but if they do, Italy’s extra quality in forward areas will prove pivotal.
This game is being played in Rome, so Italy do have home field advantage in this opener, meaning I like them even more to win this game.
The Italians are just a better version of Turkey in my opinion. Both sides look to build from a strong foundation, but Mancini’s side have better tools at both ends of the pitch and have proven to be much more consistent with performances and results.
Turkey will be difficult to break down though, and won’t go down easily, while Italy’s attack isn’t of the same standard of other sides in this competition.
Throw all of this in with the fact that this game is the group opener and a result is greatly important, and we get the recipe for a low-scoring game.
I think Italy do edge it though, so backing ITALY TO WIN AND UNDER 3.5 GOALS appeals greatly at odds against. I would back this bet down to 9/10, so the 10/11 widely available I'd still take.
This bet would have won in 14 of Italy’s last 27 matches, and 14 of their last 22 victories, so that is where I will be putting my money in the Euro 2020 curtain raiser.
Score prediction: Turkey 0-1 Italy (Sky Bet odds: 4/1)
Odds correct 1600 BST (08/06/21)
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.