Germany v Slovakia – Stade Pierre Mauroy at 17:00 live on ITV
Germany will face Slovakia in the last 16 of the European Championships this Sunday evening, and it’s no surprise the world champions head into the match as strong, 1.44 favourites despite being under par so far this tournament.
Die Mannschaft topped their group but were unimpressive in their 2 victories over the Ukraine and Northern Ireland and goalless draw against Poland. Their opening 2-0 win over the Ukraine was laboured and they lacked ideas going forward. It was a similar story against Poland, clearly missing a focal point up front with Mario Gotze as the lone striker who often came deep or drifted out the flanks.
Low replaced Gotze with Mario Gomez for their match with Northern Ireland and he duly obliged, netting after just half hour. Germany were unable to add to their lead however, meaning they scored just once from 44 attempts in their last 2 matches. They created plenty of clear cut chances against the Irish and Thomas Muller, who has never scored in a European Championship’s, could have had a hat-trick and on another night, he would have.
Defensively they have been sound, one of only two teams to have kept three clean sheets in the group stages along with Poland. The last time the world champions didn’t concede in their opening 3 matches in the Euro finals was 1996 when they went on to lift the trophy.
Slovakia set up this tie with Germany after finishing in 3rd of Group B behind Wales and England. They opened their campaign with a loss against Wales, which showed their weakness in defence. Slovakia then defeated Russia 2-0 but were lucky to hold on after Russia pulled one back and should have levelled the match.
The Falcons needed a draw with England, and had to rely on their defence in 0-0 draw, which says more about the Three Lions inefficiency in the last 3rd than it does about the Slovakian’s back line. A point was needed and a point was earned but despite facing a misfiring Germany, Slovakia are rightfully underdogs in what will be their toughest challenge so far.
They will bring some confidence into the match having beaten their opponents in a pre-tournament friendly last month, 3-1, scoring three from their four attempts on target. However, Germany lead with 7 wins from their 10 meetings, including their last 2 competitive matches.
Germany should win this one and comfortably and I make them good value -1.25 at 2.16 on the Asian Handicap betting market. Although they haven’t shown their cutting edge up front thus far, they have faced teams that were happy to lose narrowly and packed the penalty box in order to limit the damage. If Low’s players can score early, it will force Slovakia to chase the game, causing them to lose shape and organisation at the back.
We may see an edgy start, but I expect the game to open up, with Germany, as they did in the world cup two years ago, showing they improve in every match.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Germany -1.25 at 2.16
Prices correct at time of writing.
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