Opta Predicts Serbia v England: Back 11/2 Trent Alexander-Arnold to score, say Opta

Opta have five of the best for Sebia v England

Will Rook from Opta is back for Betfair for their first match preview of Euro 2024, and with England such a short price to beat Serbia in Group C, where do the stats take us to fnd the best bets on Sunday?

England Superboost

The two main men who can propel England to glory this summer are captain Harry Kane and wonderkid Jude Bellingham. They will be at the forefront for the Three Lions.

We know this, and so do the opposition, who will be looking to stop them both by any means necessary.

has been fouled 24 times in his last 20 England starts, and multiple times eight of his last 13 as he drops deep to pick up the ball and make things happen. His numbers heightened during the last major tournament too, winning nine fouls in just five games in Qatar.

Bellingham, meanwhile, averages 2.09 fouls won per 90 for England, and has been fouled 4+ times in each of his last three caps, and 20 times in just seven recent games.

Together, they have been fouled a combined 55 times in their last 15 England games!

Forget qualifiers and warm-up friendlies, it's time for the real thing. England get their Euro 2024 campaign under way against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday night.

So while you count down the minutes to kick off, here is how we see the game going.

England to start with a win

There are plenty of valid concerns over England's performance levels and the fitness of various players - we will get onto them later - but they should have enough to win this.

The Three Lions have won all three of their opening matches in major tournaments under Gareth Southgate.

They face a Serbia side who are appearing at their first-ever European Championship as an independent nation, but have never made it beyond the group stage in three World Cups. Their form is hardly glittering either, having won four matches in 11 prior to this.

But priced at just 2/51.40 on the sportsbook, an England victory isn't a standout pick.

In our pre-tournament England preview, we highlighted that England have been an impressive attacking team at tournaments under Southgate.

The Three Lions have been ranked equal-second for big chance creation in two of the last three tournaments. They also scored the third-most goals (13) at the 2022 World Cup behind only the two finalists.

That total was helped by hammering Iran 6-2 in the opening match and 3-0 victories over Wales and Senegal respectively.

Given the array of attacking talent England have brought to Germany - their first-choice front four have scored 122 goals between them for club and country in 2023/24 - over 3.5 goals looks tempting at 11/53.20.

Good going forward

One player who looks set to play a big part for England at the tournament is Trent Alexander-Arnold.

He was one of four potential candidates to partner Declan Rice in midfield prior to the warm-up friendlies. Having been given the No. 8 shirt for Euro 2024, he looks to have won that battle and it's hard to say he doesn't deserve it.

Alexander-Arnold was influential in the 3-0 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina last week, with his performance being one of the big positives of the warm-up friendlies. Playing in both midfield and at full back at St. James' Park, he had more touches (122) than any other player.

Alexander-Arnold v Bosnia.jpeg

While his long-range passing ability is what often grabs attention, the Liverpool star's volleyed finish was his most eye-catching contribution. At 11/26.50, he looks a good bet to score again.

While he netted just once in qualifying for England, only forwards Bukayo Saka & Harry Kane took more shots per 90 minutes (of those who played more than 300 minutes).

Elsewhere, the data points towards England's front four getting in on the act.

Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham were second and third respectively in the highest xG overperformers in Europe's top five leagues last season. Foden scored 19 from an xG of 10.34, while Bellingham scored the same number from an xG of 11.

Jude Bellingham goals + assists.png

In all competitions, Bellingham scored another four and supplied 13 assists for Real Madrid. Given that he is more likely to play in his conventional position, with Foden moving left to accommodate him, we lean towards him. He is priced at 7/52.40 to score or assist against Serbia.

Despite having only played regularly for one season, Cole Palmer has the highest assists per 90 figure (0.27) of any player in the England squad over the last two campaigns.

Looking just at 2023/24, he ranks second only to Harry Kane for goal involvements in the England squad.

Considering the fitness doubts over Saka - who missed Arsenal's final match of the Premier League season with a groin issue and played just 25 minutes against Iceland - the Chelsea attacking midfielder could be in line to start.

If that does happen, Palmer is a good bet to register an assist at 3/14.00.

Dodgy defence?

For all the positivity surrounding England's attacking players, there are serious concerns at the back.

Harry Maguire's absence leaves the first-choice centre-back pairing as John Stones and Marc Guehi, who have only ever played together twice. The first time was in England's 4-0 defeat at home to Hungary in the Nations League in 2022 and the second was the 1-0 loss to Iceland last week.

Stones was sent off in the Hungary game, while last week he was substituted at half-time as an injury precaution. He has started one Premier League match since March and has missed training in the week through illness.

If he does not play on Sunday, England have no centre-back option with more than 15 international caps to replace him.

With that in mind, both teams to score represents good value at 1/12.00.

Serbia have plenty of players who will be on hand to profit from any vulnerabilities in England's defence, with Aleksandar Mitrovic likely to be favoured.

The physical frontman scored 40 goals in 40 games in all competitions for Al-Hilal this season, while he finished second to Cristiano Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League Golden Boot race. He can be backed at 22/123.00 to score two or more against England.

Mitrovic Al Hilal.jpeg

It's notable that 15 of Mitrovic's goals were headers, while all of them came from within the penalty area.

That suggests he will thrive from good service and Dusan Tadic - priced at 11/26.50 for an assist - is a player who can deliver that. The Fenerbahce player registered an xA (expected assists) figure of 3.95 in qualifying - more than any other Serbian.

Who's getting booked?

Serbia are no strangers to the referee's book at major tournaments, having picked up the third-most yellow cards at the 2022 World Cup despite only playing three matches.

Defender Strahinja Pavlovic was issued with two of those and looks like a candidate for a card in Gelsenkirchen, having also been booked in Serbia's final warm-up friendly against Sweden last week.

The Red Bull Salzburg centre-back picked up 12 bookings and a red card in 32 matches for his club in 2023/24. He was even worse in the previous season with 15 yellows and a red in the same amount of matches.

That works out at 0.38 yellow cards per 90 minutes, which is more than any player in either squad. He is 7/24.50 to go in the book.

England's discipline has been one of their strong points under Southgate. They were only issued with six bookings in eight qualifying matches.

They didn't pick up a single yellow card until the quarter final of the 2022 World Cup when Maguire was booked.

Similarly, England only had one booking in the group stage of Euro 2020 and two in the groups of the 2018 World Cup.

As a result, under 0.5 England cards looks sensible at 10/34.33.

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Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.