Euros Notebook - Granit Xhaka

Euro 2024 Notebook: England's chances, Croatia's response and Granit Xhaka

A small apology to those wondering if there would be a column across the weekend (which would have been nobody).

I will be doing these on a more regular basis but I did spend the past few days in Germany for the tournament so was away from the laptop.

It's a great experience being there, although I am not totally convinced they are well enough equipped to host a major international tournament, which is utterly bizarre for a country of Germany's size.

Having successfully navigated the Eurostar from London, battling the language barriers that limited the entire group to ordering 'big Stella, big chips' from a local Belgian cafe/restaurant outside the station (although I went for Leffe as a man of class), the train deciding it could no longer work as we entered Germany was a sign of things to come.

Sky Bet Euros offer B10G40 -

Trains were consistently late, and the shambles of Gelsenkirchen following England's game with Serbia, which I'll discuss in a bit, a summary of how poor the experience can actually be for match-going fans.

I hate Deutsche Bahn.

But, I don't want to put anyone off who is still to go across for it. The overall atmosphere and experience is great.

We watched Germany's clash with Scotland in a bar in Düsseldorf and attended Hungary vs Switzerland in Köln on Saturday, meeting and drinking with fans of plenty of countries at the tournament - a weird bonding at times between everyone over just how bad the organising of travel was.

Then it was the turn of England, with the Three Lions benefitting from a rough estimate of support from 70% of the stadium.

On the pitch, the opening weekend of matches delivered plenty of interesting talking points and trends. Here's a few of those to highlight heading into the next round of fixtures.

Were England actually that bad?

England kicked off their tournament by beating Serbia - Jude Bellingham's goal enough to secure the three points.

It's a solid start against a physical, aggressive side with attacking quality, yet there seems to be some worry of England's chances based solely on that performance.

Serbia vs England
I had a great view of Jude Bellingham's header against Serbia

I don't buy into this. Game state dictated England would have to defend more and ultimately, they limited Serbia to very, very little.

The opposition had one shot on target, they failed to create any big chances, and the closest actual shot they had to the goal was Aleksandar Mitrović's effort from the edge of the area in the 20th minute.

The Three Lions put in a good 'tournament football' type performance, and while yes, some things could have been better, the reaction in some areas is unjustified.

In the first game of the tournament, it was fine. Three points on the board, which isn't usually the case in the opener, and an expectation that they will grow as the weeks go by.

Staying with Serbia...

I was convinced that the meeting in Gelsenkirchen would be filled with goals, but England's restrictive defensive showings prevented that from happening.

Serbia remained aggressive out of possession though and I still firmly believe that will cause some issues for them in the next couple of games.

Serbia vs England
Serbia's set-up was similar to what we saw at the 2022 World Cup

Serbia vs England
Serbia lacked a compact shape when England had possession in their own half

Serbia vs England
It became less compact as they were chasing the game

The teams who do well at the tournament are typically compact, forming that block between the defensive and midfield lines to force their opponents out wide - I discussed this in the first edition of the Euros Notebook.

The room in the middle of the pitch remains there for others to exploit and they will be played through quite easily at times - England demonstrated that in the first half.

Next up is Slovenia, a side who saw six of their 11 shots against Denmark come from range. Erik Janza took three of those - scoring via a huge deflection - and I don't hate the look of the 25/1 top price, even 18s elsewhere, that he scores again here with the space to shoot.

If you'd rather play it 'safer' with something shorter, over 2.5 goals in the game is currently 21/20.

The fast starters

A trend we've seen throughout the tournament so far is how early the goals are coming.

Prior to Tuesday evening, 67% of the goals have been scored in the first-half of games. For comparison, it was 37% at Euro 2020.

Now, of course, we have to factor in the much smaller sample size we're currently working with, and that we're yet to see extra-time too, but it's a positive sign for first-half goals betting.

It's worth siding with in the early stages of the tournament and does create the potential for a couple of fun bets too.

A goal in the first-half of each of the games on Wednesday is floating around the 6/4 mark, while two or more is 20/1 if you fancy a bigger price.

Fouls in focus

The excitement was present throughout Germany and Die Mannschaft delivered with a thumping 5-1 win over a hopeless Scotland side on opening night.

Next up is Hungary, another winnable tie that would put them in a strong position to wrap up top spot in Group A. It's no surprise then that the hosts are such a short price to win.

Robert Andrich is booked for Germany against Scotland
Robert Andrich is booked for Germany against Scotland

That has pushed the markets, as we'd expect, and it's worth looking at Germany's fouls line for their Wednesday afternoon meeting.

They committed a total of 15 in the game against Scotland, with a nice combination of their style and home atmosphere playing a part.

Germany's line is currently set at 11+ with even money the best price showing (Sky Bet), and 14+ isn't a terrible bet at 4s either, but scan around the full list of prices closer to kick-off.

Other teams to monitor include Austria (18 fouls committed vs France) and Serbia (19 fouls committed vs England).

Croatia can bounce back

Croatia's 3-0 defeat to Spain put them on the back foot in Group B, but they created more than enough in the game to score. That includes a saved penalty late on.

Five shots on target and four big chances created led to a total of 2.38 xG (NERD) yet nothing on their tally. It would be a big surprise to see them blanked again against Albania.

Game state played a part, naturally, but their 16 attempts was the third-highest of the tournament so far.

Over 2.5 goals in this one is even money, while Croatia 2+ goals is 4/6 for any Wednesday accumulators. I REALLY like the look of Joško Gvardiol to score anytime at 12/1 (bet365) or the 10s elsewhere - he had two shots and was in very advanced positions from left-back against Spain.

If you're after something to include in a multiple for the remainder of the group stages, you can get 8/13 that they progress from the group. A win and a draw in the final two would be enough.

The Xhak Attack!

Switzerland looked good against Hungary. There's a nice structure about this team with some great build-up play and quality chances to go with it.

They should be full of confidence as they face Scotland on Wednesday evening. One player who was particularly impressive was Granit Xhaka as he contributed with and without the ball.

Only Denmark's Christian Eriksen (7) created more chances than Xhaka (4) across the opening weekend - a reminder that the Swiss midfielder does not take corners.

Granit Xhaka's pass map against Hungary

Xhaka operated in advanced positions and two of the four chances came from short cut backs from the left side of the opposition box. Four of his attempted five passes into the area were successful.

He's a best price of 8/1 to register an assist against Scotland - the general 11/2 more than fine - while he's still in at 250/1 in the most assists market and, well, you never know.

Odds correct at 1400 BST (18/06/24)

More from Sporting Life

Safer gambling

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.

Further support and information can be found at and

Like what you've read?


Sporting Life
Join for free!
Access to exclusive features all for FREE - No monthly subscription fee
Race Replays
My stable horse tracker
giftOffers and prize draws
newsExclusive content