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Opta Predicts Group Stage Special: Supercomputer says 15/2 Portugal are value

  • Opta
  • 3:00 min read
The world's leading football stats company Opta have teamed up with Betfair

In part II of their Euro 2024 'Opta Predicts' series, Opta have nosedived into the Group Stages to find the best angles for a tournament winner and top scoring side, with Betfair's offer in mind where you can win free bets for every goal the side you back to win the Euros scores during the group stages.


Euro 2024 is nearly here and with Betfair's outright offer you will be credited with a free bet whenever the team you back to win the tournament scores a goal.

So let's have a look at the groups and see where the value is.

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GROUP A

The temptation is to assume Germany will walk this group. Their position as third-favourites 4/15.00 suggests that's what the market expects to happen.

But a less-than-ideal preparation has seen them lose to Austria, Turkey, Japan, Poland and Colombia in friendlies within the last 12 months, and spin through a manager. They are best avoided.

Underestimate Hungary at your peril. They were one of just six teams to qualify for Euro 2024 with an unbeaten record alongside England, France, Belgium, Romania and Portugal.

It is also only two years since they battered England 4-0 at Molineux in the Nations League, while they came out of Euro 2020 with heaps of credit after respective 1-1 and 2-2 draws with France and Germany. Making it out of the group (4/51.80) should be their minimum expectation.

With an eye on Betfair's outright offer, it's interesting that Switzerland scored 22 goals in qualifying - the equal-fourth most - generating an xG of 23.62, which was second only to top scorers Portugal.

That suggests they will create plenty of chances at Euro 2024. While 80/181.00 is probably a fair representation of their chances - the Opta supercomputer gives them a one per cent chance of winning the Euros - 150/1151.00 looks a huge price for them to be the tournament's top scorers.

Scotland generated just 8.89 xG in qualifying - the second-lowest of any team at the tournament. They are unlikely to be expansive and [10/1] for them to be the lowest scorers represents value.


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GROUP B

You've got to feel for Albania. Group toppers ahead of Czech Republic in qualifying, they have been dealt the toughest draw.

Of the teams at Euro 2024, they were the equal-lowest scorers with 12 goals and that poor total could have been even worse, as their attackers actually overperformed an xG total of just 7.04. Unsurprisingly, they are 11/26.50 favourites to do the same in Germany.

If they are to pick up any points, it's worth targeting their opening match with defending champions Italy, who themselves only just qualified.

The Azzurri needed a goalless draw against Ukraine to secure second place on goal difference following back-to-back defeats against England and a 1-1 draw away to North Macedonia. Albania double chance is available at 12/53.40.

Spain 5/61.84 should top this group and score a few goals in the process, with that in mind, they are 7/18.00 in the outright market. They were the third-highest scorers in qualifying (25) and have only failed to score once in their last 26 competitive matches.

Croatia have made it through the group in each of their last four tournaments. They should do so again.


Group C.png

GROUP C

England are 3/14.00 favourites to win Euro 2024 and 11/43.75 favourites to be the tournament's top scorers.

While neither are chunky enough to class as value picks, both are hard to argue against. The short outright price can also be offset by Betfair's outright offer.

Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham were second and third respectively in the biggest xG overperformers in the top five European leagues in 2023/24 and were both named Player of the Year in their respective leagues. Captain Harry Kane was 12th on the same list.

What that suggests is that all three are among the best finishers in Europe.

Kane also won the 2023/24 European Golden Shoe with 36 Bundesliga goals in 32 matches, while Bellingham posted the fourth-best shot conversion rate in Europe's top five leagues (31.2 per cent).

If you think Gareth Southgate will be conservative with his talent, think again.

In the 2022 World Cup, England scored the third-most goals behind finalists Argentina and France despite playing two fewer matches. They also ranked equal-second for big chance creation in two of their last three major tournaments.

If England are to rack up the goals, expect them to do so in the group stage just as they did in Qatar. The opening match against Serbia could provide them with a perfect opportunity should Chelsea goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic start.

The 24-year-old had the eighth-worst goals prevented figure in Europe's top five leagues last season, conceding 5.9 goals above what was expected based on the quality of the shots he faced.

With that in mind, Slovenia are worth a look. Seventh on that same list as Foden and Bellingham is Benjamin Sesko. The RB Leipzig striker scored 14 goals from an xG of 7.7 last season, while he had a shot conversion rate of 29.8 per cent.

With Sesko on hand to profit from any dodgy goalkeeping, a price of 17/102.70 to qualify is decent. With the Opta supercomputer predicting a 38 per cent chance for Slovenia to finish second or third, keep an eye on them.

Slovenia finished one place below Denmark in qualifying with a near-identical record. Considering Denmark are [3/10] to make it out of Group C and there is little between them, the value play is obvious.


Group D .png

GROUP D

Unsurprisingly, the data points towards France being the dominant force in Group D and beyond.

The Opta supercomputer gives them a 19 per cent chance of winning Euro 2024 - one per cent fewer than England. The potential semi-final against the Three Lions, should both teams win their group, could decide where the trophy goes.

Little needs to be said about Golden Boot favourite Kylian Mbappe 9/25.50, although he was the ninth-biggest xG overperformer in Europe's top five leagues last season.

France had second-best xG at 2022 World Cup (14.02), created most big chances (18), scored the most goals (16) and Mbappe was top goalscorer. Taking the outright offer into account, backing France could mean a lot of free bets.

That could be especially true should the Netherlands start with Brentford's Mark Flekken in goal. The 31-year-old registered -6.7 goals prevented last season - the fifth-worst figure in Europe's top five leagues.

Second place is probably the best the Oranje can hope for in Group D, which would give them a last-16 tie against the Group E runner-up. That will likely be a winnable game against one of Slovakia, Romania or Ukraine.

But in the last eight, things get tricky. Should Portugal win their group, the two could meet there, so 11/43.75 for a quarter-final elimination is a nice bet.

Austria were impressive in qualifying, finishing only one point behind Belgium in second. A 3-2 home defeat to the Red Devils is their only competitive loss in eight, although they will be without their best player David Alaba.

Poland have failed to make the knockout stages in five of their last seven major tournament appearances, finishing bottom of their Euros group three of the four times they have been there. They are [5/6] to do so again.


Group E .png

GROUP E

For a team who could feasibly drop zero points in their group, 16/117.00 is a great outright price for Belgium.

Kevin De Bruyne, Leandro Trossard and Romelu Lukaku are all brilliant players - the latter top-scored in qualifying with 14. While it's worth noting that the player with most goals in Euros qualifying has never won the Golden Boot, it would be remiss not to point out that Lukaku is 18/119.00 for the prize.

They do have an issue in goal though, given the absence of Thibaut Courtois. Matz Sels has played three of their last five competitive matches, but was one of the worst-performing shot stoppers in Europe last season in terms of the data.

Sels had the eighth-worst save percentage (59.8 per cent) and second-worst goals prevented figure (-9.5). Belgium games could be exciting ones to watch then.

Romania qualified for the tournament with an unbeaten record, finishing above Switzerland. They can at least be expected to make it out of Group E at 4/61.67.

Elsewhere, Ukraine only missed out on automatic qualification behind Italy based on goal difference. They forced creditable draws against the Azzurri and England, so aren't here just to make up the numbers.

Slovakia, meanwhile, had second-worst xGA of any team at Euro 2024 in qualifying (12.33) despite only conceding eight goals. That suggests they gave up a lot of opportunities and could concede a few in Germany. A fourth-placed finish is worth taking on at 7/52.40.


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GROUP F

While Portugal aren't an outsider for the tournament - the Opta supercomputer makes them fifth-likeliest winners - their price of 15/28.50 represents the best value.

Taking the outright offer into account, Roberto Martinez's side are even more appealing having top-scored in qualifying with 36 goals. The caveat here is that they played an extra two games on some teams. That they generated an xG of 23.62 - 5.2 more than any other team - suggests they are capable of scoring plenty more though.

Their squad is stacked as well with Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo among the players.

Georgia should be worried. Appearing at their first-ever major tournament, they are the only team at Euro 2024 who qualified without finishing in the top three of their group. Willy Sagnol's side finished second-bottom, winning two out of eight and conceding 18 goals.

Turkey failed to make it out of the group at the previous two European Championships and had the worst record of any team at Euro 2020 with three defeats, one goal scored and eight conceded. An improvement will be expected.

Czech Republic, meanwhile, have made it to the quarter final or better in three of their last five Euros, including a semi-final appearance in 2004. The Portugal/Czech Republic straight forecast looks tempting at 11/43.75.

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Now read Opta's England special here: Who should make the squad?

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