A winning Euros start for Will Dyer (@w2Dyer) on Sunday. Spain v Czech Republic is next on his radar.
Spain v Czech Republic | Monday 14:00 | ITV1
Spain come into this tournament opener off the back of a mixed bag of warm up friendly results. The 6-1 spanking of South Korea with some delicious goals by the likes of Nolito was a distant memory at the full-time whistle of the Georgia game, which Spain lost 1-0. Their worst defeat to such a lowly ranked side in a long time.
Spain are bidding to win their third successive European Championship. It would be a quite remarkable feat but the squad has changed significantly since that 2008 win.
Defensively they are strong, although I’d argue none of the current crop are in Carles Puyol’s league they have all shown their credentials in the Champions League on numerous occasions.
La Furia Roja have an embarrassment of riches in midfield. So much so that they can afford to leave Juan Mata and Isco out of their 23-man squad but it’s up front where the problems lie. Paco Alcacer top scored for Spain in qualifying with five goals but misses out which leaves only Alvaro Morata or Aritz Aduriz as their only genuine strikers.
Nolito, Lucas Vasquez and Pedro are all unquestionably wingers. Morata and Aduriz are both reliable target men but neither can claim to be world class strikers, a problem that the likes of France and Spain do not have.
As for the Czechs they seem to be being written off by everyone. The majority of the squad is built up with their own domestic players, nine of the 23 playing in the Synot Liga.
They do have a relatively old squad, eleven are 30 or older but with age comes experience and there are some players in this team that have seen it all. Petr Cech, Tomas Rosicky and Jaroslav Plasil all have 100+ caps.
Borek Dockal was a highlight of their qualifying campaign scoring four and with four players plying their trades in Turkey and three in the Bundesliga this is a team not to be sniffed at. They won their qualifying group despite being bundled in with Turkey, Iceland and the Netherlands.
Spain won nine of their 10 qualifying games but lost to Slovakia, once again showing signs of weakness. After a long campaign for many of their players in the Champions League there are worries that fatigue could set into this Spanish squad.
All in all, I feel Spain are weak favourites for Group D and that was only compounded for me by the style of Croatia’s win over Turkey. I also think that the Czech Republic are underrated here at an industry standard price of 8/1.
Germany’s win over Ukraine on Sunday night was the first game settled by more than a one goal margin. I’m not expecting Spain to come flying out the blocks here. We’ve seen plenty of cagey first halves already with some teams testing the water rather than going hell for leather.
A slow start to this game should see the Republic keep it close so with +1.5 on the Asian Handicap available at 13/20 with Netbet that’s my bet.
A draw or loss by one goal for the Czechs will see a full pay out. Only a defeat by two or more goals would give us a losing selection and I’m not sure the Spanish have a big win in them without a clear identity up front.
Spain have kept just one clean sheet in their last five games whilst this Czech Republic side have scored in 21 of their last 25 games and nine of their 10 qualifying games. Even money with Betfair, William Hill and Netbet on Pavel Vrba’s men to simply score a goal on Monday afternoon looks a tad overpriced to me.