Dave Farrar previews another Euro 2020 Group A game and feels goals are underestimated...
“Four of Switzerland’s last five games have gone Over 2.5 Goals, while three of Wales’ last six have done likewise. If those figures were in front of us ahead of a Premier League game, there’s no way that Over 2.5 Goals would be trading at 2.9215/8”
Wales v Switzerland
Live on BBC1
Goals underestimated in Baku
And so to Baku, the first game of this Euro which highlights just how untraditional this tournament is. The Stadio Olimpico on a Friday night feels right, Azerbaijan on a Saturday a little different. Maybe different is good, though, and maybe Wales and Switzerland will serve up a game for the ages. The betting markets certainly don't seem to think so, with Over 2.5 Goals trading at a hefty 2.9215/8.
These are two teams whose styles suggest that they adopt a safety first approach, and I can understand why the over/under market is trading that way, even if I find the actual prices a little extreme. As a born (and possibly naive) optimist, it's in my nature to take a stand against that a market like that based on price alone, but more on that in a moment.
Swiss tend to make last 16
First, to the relative chances of these two sides. The Swiss, a rock solid last 16 team in pretty much every major tournament, are trading at 2.265/4 for the win here, and there is some logic behind that price. They have won 5 games in a row, have tried to be a little more dynamic and expansive under Vladimir Petkovic, and seem to have a fair chance of making it through.
Wales have been badly disrupted by the absence of their coach Ryan Giggs for widely publicised reasons, leaving Rob Page in charge. I know an old Coventry teammate of Page who tells me that he is one of the all-time football good guys, and for that alone I wish him really well, but this is a heck of a step up tactically for a former Port Vale and Northampton manager.
It's still odd, though, to see a team which reached the semi-final of the previous Euro trading at 4.1 to win their opening game of the next one, and that price is a tempting one.
The Swiss definitely look too short at 2.265/4, especially for a team with such a lack of confidence in front of goal. Still, Wales's glory nights were five years ago, and I'm not sure of their relevance here.
As mentioned in my tournament preview, there's a chance that Xherdan Shaqiri or Haris Seferovic could catch fire, but it's unlikely, and far more probable that the Swiss will have to rely on contributions from elsewhere.
I've stated before my liking for both Steven Zuber and Remo Freuler as potential goalscorers, Zuber having scored in 2 of his last 5 internationals as an attack minded left wing back, and Freuler always capable of making good forward runs. They're both backable here at around 9.08/1 as anytime goalscorers, and there will be worse bets this month.
This is one of those occasions on which the market looks to be right, and I am struggling for an edge. I think that Wales are being underestimated in the Match Odds market and that Over 2.5 Goals are too big at nearly 3.02/1, but I wouldn't back either eventuality with any massive confidence, they would just be price based calls.
I'd happily throw a dart at Zuber or Freuler, as both fit my reasoning of the way that things could go, but they are both thought out ideas, rather than presumed certainties.
In general, I think that Italy will win this Group and Turkey are the likeliest candidate to topple them, with Switzerland, for all of the concern over their awkward travel situation, next in line. Wales to finish bottom of the Group at 2.3611/8 looks a solid investment.
Best of a bad bunch
For this game, the temptation is to sit on my hands, but in a world in which I can't do that, I will base my selection on price, with some statistical analysis thrown in. Four of Switzerland's last five games have gone Over 2.5 Goals, while three of Wales' last six have done likewise. If those figures were in front of us ahead of a Premier League game, there's no way that Over 2.5 Goals would be trading at 2.9215/8.
Now, I know that these represent different circumstances, and that vastly different levels of opposition have to be factored in, but even looking back at Euro 2016, all three of Wales' group games went over the 2.5 mark, although none of Switzerland's did. Petkovic, though, has stated that he wants to be more progressive, and Swiss results of late have reflected that. I think, on balance, that's the bet here.
I would offer "Yes" to Both Teams to Score as an alternative at 2.427/5, but I won't let that 2.9215/8 slide by, and that, on Day 2, is the bet.
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