The knockout stages begin at Euro 2020 over the weekend with four matches. It has been a terrific tournament so far, and these matches should be even more exciting.
Here are my best plays for the knockout stage, beginning with Saturday and Sunday’s matches.
Denmark vs. Wales
Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
The first knock-out match is Saturday afternoon when Denmark take on Wales in Amsterdam, and my first play is Denmark at anything around -120.
Wales haven’t impressed me at all at these championships and they will find it tough to compete with a pumped-up Denmark after their 4-1 win against Russia. At the same time as the Danish win, the Welsh were having a rather tough time against Italy's second string (eight changes but very decent team) to lose 1-0.
The Welsh were also the second best in their group opener against Switzerland a match where the Swiss totally dominated outside of a 10-minute spell in the second half.
In that match Switzerland were + 100 to beat the Danes and I rate Denmark a lot better than the Swiss, which makes the -120 a small play.
Denmark have done extremely well to recover from the horrific Christian Eriksen incident with two excellent performances since the 1-0 Finland loss. It could be said the 2-1 loss to Belgium was every bit as good as the 4-1 defeat of Russia. Against one of our top-rated teams, Denmark had the better in terms of expected goals by 1.45, but it was the brilliance of Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku whose quality showed in the second in Belgium’s 2-1 win.
The crowd in Copenhagen has no doubt been a great positive influence on the Danish players and this will be their first game away from the Danish capital. It's a nine-hour straight drive down the A1 motorway in northern Europe, so we will no doubt expect plenty of faithful support there.
Unfortunately, for the Welsh, the Dutch authorities have banned non-essential visitors from the UK due to Covid restrictions whereas Danish fans have been allowed to travel as long as they enter and leave the country within 12 hours. So, we can expect a Danish Parken-esque presence tomorrow … which is enough for me to play.
Play: Denmark to win -120
Italy vs. Austria
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET
The second match on Saturday is from London's Wembley Stadium where the impressive Italians take on Austria kick-off 3pm EST.
The Italians have been superb at this tournament, as they have been over the last two years under the guidance of manager Roberto Mancini.
Italy come into this match on a 29-match unbeaten run -- their last defeat was back in 2018 against Portugal -- and I can’t see the Austrian’s ending that record. Italy are rightly installed as the -200 favorites, which will certainly interest the big players.
Mancini has a selection headache after resting eight in the Welsh match, as the players that came in were superb, but whatever side he puts out it is more than capable of easily beating the Austrians.
Italy have looked rock solid in defense at these championships (not conceding a goal), and going forward they have looked the most creative and impressive nation in scoring seven goals. Heading into this match, they have incredibly won their last 11 internationals and haven’t conceded a goal in any of them. The win to nil for Italy makes lots of appeal + 115 but it that market isn't available to you then bet, then Italians to win 1-0 or 2-0 which is available at 5/1 each.
Play: Italy to win and record a shutout + 115 (or Italy to win 1-0 or 2-0 at 5-1 odds)
Portugal vs. Belgium
Sunday, 3 p.m. ET
Portugal take on Belgium in what looks like a mouthwatering quarter-final in Seville on Sunday night.
Belgium have looked formidable going forward and they were the top goal scorers in qualifying. With the Portuguese looking questionable in defense and Cristiano Ronaldo on a mission to make history, this match could be a classic.
The match betting makes Belgium marginal favorites to win in 90 minutes at + 150, with Portugal available at 2-1. Those lines look hard to disagree with, but where I do disagree is on the goal lines as I don’t really understand the money which is coming for under 2.5 in this match and for both teams to score ‘no’.
Belgium have a formidable front line with Lukaku, De Bruyne and Eden Hazard, but without question their weakness is in their defense. At these Euros they have only conceded one goal, but they have managed to score at least two in every match so far.
If you look at Belgium’s recent internationals prior to Euro 2020, nine of their 11 matches cashed on both teams to score (BTTS) “yes” and I feel that the BTTS “yes” is the play here at -120.
Portugal are a lot more attack minded than the team that won this tournament five years ago. Over 2.5 goals has cashed in all three of their group matches, which have featured a huge 13 goals with BTTS “yes” a winner against Germany and France.
Play: Both teams to score -120