Wales v Slovakia – Stade de Bordeaux at 17:00 live on BBC One
Prior to England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia tomorrow evening (preview here by @DarkDyson), the Welsh begin their campaign against Slovakia in Bordeaux. Both sides impressed in qualifying but come into Group B as the underdogs and will be looking at this match as possibly their best chance to get 3 points.
Getting three points on the board from the first of 3 group games will put either side in a great position, but I’m expecting a tight, cagey and low scoring affair.
Wales qualified for their first international competition in over 50 years by finishing runners up to Belgium, losing just one of their 10 qualifying matches, W6 D3. Defensively they were excellent, conceding just 4 goals in their 10 qualification matches which was very important considering they scored just 11. Gareth Bale scored 7 and assisted 2 of those, meaning he was involved in 81% of their goals.
Since booking their place in France though, things haven’t gone too well for the Dragons, failing to win any of their 3 friendlies. A draw with Northern Ireland and defeat to the Ukraine in March was followed by a 3-0 defeat against Sweden in their one and only pre-tournament friendly. Bale wasn’t involved in the 2 matches in March and only featured for the last 30 minutes against Sweden, making little impact.
Although I don’t see the Welsh as a one man team, there is no doubt that if they are to make it out of the group, the worlds most expensive player needs to perform.
Slovakia finished runners up to Spain in qualifying and defeated the current European Champions 2-1 early on in the campaign. Unlike Wales, Slovakia have been successful since securing their spot in the finals, remaining unbeaten in their 7 friendlies, which included a recent win over world champions, Germany.
They have an ageing squad but with it comes a lot of experience, especially in defence. Slovakia’s game is based on a solid back line, hitting teams on the counter attack. In qualifying they averaged just 46% possession, the third lowest and will be happy to soak up the pressure from Wales, looking to hit them on the break.
It is no surprise, with the way these 2 teams play, neither will make the running, that Under 2.5 goals is as short as 1.44. The line is set at 2 and I would rather be on the under side at 1.80, however, I think there is more value backing Slovakia on the Asian Handicap betting market.
There is nothing to separate these sides in the betting market, both chalked up at around the 2.95 mark. Both impressed in qualifying but Slovakia’s lead up to the competition has been a lot better than Wales’. In a low scoring, tight match, backing Slovakia +/- 0 (Draw No Bet) at 1.96 offers some value.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Slovakia +/- 0 at 1.96
Prices correct at time of writing.
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