With one Group B victory apiece, Slovakia and England are in with a great chance of progressing to the knockout phase of Euro 2016.
The duo will advance in second and first respectively if they share the spoils in St Etienne so long as Russia simultaneously prevail against Wales but, discarding the permutations, it’s the Three Lions who will boast the greatest appeal to punters if the current prices remain intact until kick off.
Roy Hodgson vindicated his decision to take five strikers to France in his side’s victory over their British brethren last time out. The entire quintet graced the Lens turf in the 2-1 win, with four of them finishing the match on the field.
Half-time substitute Jamie Vardy nabbed England’s equaliser, before Daniel Sturridge, another whom Hodgson decided his stint warming the bench ended at the 45-minute mark, squeezed home the winning goal at the death.
It wasn’t so much the result, but the ferocity with which the Three Lions lay siege to their opponents’ goal in the second half, rarely allowing their foes out of their own territory as they relentlessly pressed to reverse their half-time deficit, that adds value to their pre-match odds here.
It’s important to note that Slovakia also won on matchday two, overcoming Russia thanks, in particular, to some Marek Hamsik brilliance, but their nervy attempt to see out a win against a sub-par adversary, coupled with their coach’s tactical naivety – Jan Kozak brought on two strikers to act as flow-stemming, possession-retainers at 2-0, leaving his troops grossly under-staffed at the back when the Russians pulled a goal back – suggests they’re some way short of the required standard to sign off their mini-league campaign with victory.
Win, Lose or Draw?
England come into this one looking for a fourth win from five match-day three fixtures at European Championship finals having beaten Ukraine, Croatia and the Netherlands in previous tournaments dating back to 1996.
To add further stake to their claim, they’ve lost just twice since the second pre-knockout game of the 2014 World Cup, winning all bar six of the 24 games to have elapsed since.
Slovakia are veritable greenhorns by contrast; their Russia win was the first time they’d snared the spoils in what is their first appearance on this stage.
Inside their last six fixtures they’ve failed to beat the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Wales, which doesn’t aid anyone vying to make case for the underdogs here, nor does the fact that they’ve lost three from three against Hodgson’s men.
The form of the favourites backs up this mound of trend-based evidence in support of the favourites, with England’s chance-fashioning prowess to ensure their strike force is afforded enough opportunities to down their unfancied foes.
Against Russia, which they were desperately unlucky to draw, the Three Lions had 15 attempts at goal; against Wales they had 20.
It’s a calibre of creativity Slovakia, who have stopped just Latvia and Northern Ireland scoring in their last 11 outings, won’t be able to handle.
Recommended bet: England (-1) to beat Slovakia @ 39/20
Under lovers the world over are stinking rich thanks to a Euro 2016 tournament laced with sub-three-goal games, but the opinion of many is that, once the third round of matches begins, the net-bulging shortage will promptly end.
With teams needing wins to remain in with a shout of progression, any early-stage apprehension would have to be abandoned in pursuit of three points.
But neither side needs a win to advance here and, given the gulf in quality between the teams, Slovakia will surely set up to stymie England’s attacking muscle.
Whether they succeed or not is a separate matter, but it promises another winner for the unders faithful.
Recommended bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 65/100
Who’s Going To Score?
There’s a clamour for Vardy to start against Slovakia after he notched on his Euros debut.
His introduction came after first-choice line-leader Harry Kane underwhelmed against Wales and it’ll be difficult for Hodgson to ignore his claims for a place in the XI.
The Leicester sharpshooter’s record in England white, however, should quell any doubts the Croydon Commandant may be harbouring about picking him. He’s commemorated four of his last five caps with goals and looks good value to break the deadlock here.
Recommended bet: Vardy to score first @ 9/2
Group B has been one of the tournament’s prime purveyors of late goals, with four of the 13 post-75 minute strikes (at the time of writing) being recorded by protagonists of the Euros’ second pool.
Still available to back at above evens, wager-makers can’t afford not to capitalise on what could quite well be the punt of the competition to date.
Recommended bet: Over 0.5 goals between 75:01 and Full Time @ 11/10