Netherlands v Czech Republic
Sunday 27 June, 17:00
Live on ITV1
A perfect record, but are the Dutch really perfect?
The Netherlands came into Euro 2020 with plenty of questions. Frank de Boer was doubted as coach, a change of system from the classic Dutch 4-3-3 caused consternation, and there were fears that injuries in defence would further weaken a team that already seemed fragile.
To de Boer's credit, his decision to deploy a back three and wing-backs has paid off handsomely so far. Denzel Dumfries has been particularly impressive at right wing-back, scoring the winner against Ukraine and netting the killer second goal in a 2-0 victory over Austria. Skipper Gini Wijnaldum has netted three goals bursting from midfield, and the partnership of powerful centre-forward Wout Weghorst and the talismanic Memphis Depay has shown signs of promise.
However, if we scratch beneath the surface, winning all three group games isn't quite as impressive as it initially seems.
The Dutch had home advantage in Amsterdam for all three games, and this match against the Czechs is in Budapest. The 3-2 win over Ukraine featured a huge wobble as a 2-0 lead was lost, and it was only a careless loss of possession by Ukrainian keeper Heorhiy Bushchan that led to the winning goal. Austria were awful in the 2-0 win that followed, and before de Boer's men went on to sweep aside North Macedonia 3-0, the underdogs hit a post and had a goal ruled out for a marginal offside with the scoresheet blank.
De Boer can select his best XI here, and it'd be a surprise if he didn't pick a 5-3-2, with Wolfsburg striker Weghorst returning to partner Memphis Depay in attack.
Schick's magic has illuminated Czech charge
The Czech Republic went into this tournament with a well-earned reputation for solidity and a high work-rate, and they have underlined that with their displays at Euro 2020. However, their strength of challenge was always likely to depend on whether the technically-gifted Patrick Schick could live up to his potential on the big stage. The Bayer Leverkusen forward scored arguably the goal of the tournament as part of a brace against Scotland, he put away a penalty against Croatia, but he was starved of service in a 1-0 defeat against England.
Schick hasn't been the only hero for the Czechs. Tomas Soucek has been typically influential in midfield, and played selflessly against Scotland as he marked the dangerous John McGinn out of the game. Skipper Vladimir Darida provides energy in midfield, while centre-back Tomas Kalas and Soucek's West Ham team-mate Vladimir Coufal have caught the eye at the back.
The suspension of left-back Jan Boril is a big blow, with Hoffenheim's Pavel Kaderabek a leading candidate to replace him, even though he is usually a right-back. Kaderabek is a speedy and enterprising full-back, and in theory he will look to get in behind Dumfries.
Dutch a touch too short to excite
The Netherlands are 1.75/7 in the Match Odds market here, and that seems to me to be too reflective of their group-stage campaign. There are still weaknesses to exploit, especially the defending in transition, and this is a group of players that haven't used this system for a very long. A clever coach like the Czechs' Jaroslav Silhavy will have been doubtless looked at various ways to exploit those flaws.
You could look to back the Czech Republic +0.5 & +1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.0521/20. You'll only lose half your stake if the Czechs lose by a single goal, and if they win or the tie goes to extra time, you get an odds-against winner.
Bedlam in Budapest?
The Dutch certainly pose an attacking threat, with eight goals racked up so far, and two of their three games have seen an Over 2.5 Goals bet land. If you stretch back further, eight of their last ten games have featured at least three goals.
The Czechs will look to stay compact in their 4-2-3-1 formation, but Schick is a danger in attack, and the likes of Jakub Jankto and Lucas Masopust can get them up the pitch quickly in transition.
I think Over 2.5 Goals is a good price at 2.01/1, while Both Teams To Score is trading at 1.9110/11. You could use the Sportsbook's Bet Builder (see offer below) to double those bets up at 2.19.
If you want an In-Play bet, you might be tempted by Over 3.5 Goals at a hefty 3.45. If you back it at the start of play, an early goal will leave you in a good position, and consider the following: in the Netherlands' last two games there have been opening goals in the 11th and 24 minutes, while the Czechs' three games have all featured a first-half goal.
Dangerous Denzel poses a threat
A big feature of the Dutch attack has been the wing-backs playing high up the pitch and providing an attacking outlet. With Jan Boril suspended, PSV's Denzel Dumfries should get room to manoeuvre, and he is 6/1 to score his third goal of the tournament in the first 90 minutes of the tie. He is also 5/1 in the Anytime Assist market, so you could put half a point on each.
In the To Score market, Memphis is 11/10, with Weghorst 9/5 and the in-form Wijnaldum 5/2. For the Czechs, Schick is priced at 3/1 to find the net.