Euro 2020: Profiling the semi-finalists
In my previous article, I correctly predicted the four sides that make up the two semi-finals and now I am going to try to pick apart these sides and see where the best bets might lay.
There is one common theme for all of the semi-finalists in that they played all of their group games at home and going into the quarter-finals had travelled the shortest distances. Should it be any surprise that the four teams that had journeyed the most all exited the competition?
Denmark have just played in Baku and will need to make a 4,642km trip to face England at Wembley, who had to travel back from Rome at a distance of 1,840km and a much closer time zone as Azerbaijan is four hours ahead of BST.
Spain played the Swiss in St Petersburg, which is three hours’ time difference to London and 2,815km apart, whereas the Italians played in Munich with a one-hour time difference and just 1,140km from Wembley.
This means that Denmark have travelled almost three times the distance England and Italy have and 25% more than Spanish team.
Italy still looks the strongest team to me. Whilst Spain has the best non penalty xG left in the tournament with 2.12 xG per 90 minutes, and in turn the best non penalty xG difference with +6.8 compared to the Italians +5.3, Denmark +4.6 and England +1.5, the Spanish have played Sweden, Poland, Slovakia in their group followed by Croatia and Switzerland.
I know that the Swiss beat the French to make the quarter-finals, but their underlying data put them as one of the weaker teams in the last eight and with Croatia making the last -16 due to their only win of the tournament over Scotland in the final group game.
La Roja have been unfortunate not to score more goals and they have the biggest goals to xG difference with 5.4, meaning they should have scored 5 more than the 12 they have already netted.
Compare this to England who have scored 3 more goals than their xG suggests despite notching only eight, with four of these coming in one game. Italy have a xG difference of +1.6 or 0.30 per-game, which shows that they are scoring goals relevant to the chance that they create.
Spain has the second-highest number of shots per 90 minutes with 17.47, with Italy leading the way with 18.75, yet the Spanish hit the target the most with 6.88 per-game. However, they only score with 15% of these efforts on target compared to 36% of the Italians, 32% for Denmark and 50% for England. That is a huge conversion rate for England, and we need to consider if it's sustainable.
Defensively, the Azzurri look strong with just 0.58 non penalty xG conceded per game and no side has conceded as few shots on target than them. Spain have conceded just three more than their opponents on Tuesday with 10, but the xG per shot conceded for Spain is alarming.
I mentioned this is in my quarter-final review, they concede a massive 0.183 xG per shot. They may not be given up many opportunities to the opposition but when they do, they tend to be good chances for their opponents to score.
La Roja are a good side in my view, they just miss players capable of putting the ball in the back of net on a consistent basis. If we explore their build up play its incredible positive.
A progressive pass is defined as a pass that advances the team significantly closer to the opponent’s goal. Spain average 84 of these per game, Italy 76, Denmark 67 and England 61. Passes into the final third again see Spain lead the way with 82, Italy 62, Denmark 52 and England with just 46.
Deep completions which are a non-cross pass that this targeted within 20 meters of the opponent’s goal Spain average 12.1 per game, with England having just 6.63 per game with the Italians managing 10.35 and Denmark 9.16.
In my opinion, this shows that the Spanish will see plenty of the ball and create chances although the quality of these chances will tend to be poor given that they score from just 6% of their shots and 15% of their shots on target.
La Roja have kept clean sheets against Sweden despite conceding 1.1 xGA and against a very poor Slovakia team, which gave up at 2-0. They then conceded three to Croatia who also generated 2.4 xG and then one goal against the Swiss who managed 2.0 xG with eight shots and just two on target.
I really fancy the Italians to score here. They will be hindered by the loss of attacking full back Leonardo Spinazzola, who will probably be replaced by Chelsea’s Emerson. Spain have conceded a goal in 33% of all shots on target conceded, for reference North Macedonia conceded in 38% of shots on target conceded.
You can take the Italians to score at 4/9 which is a little low, so therefore I am going to take them to score Over 1.5 Goals at 7/4 with 10Bet.
I have previous backed the Azzurri to win the Euros in the WeLoveBetting preview guide at 12/1 and therefore I am keen to back them not to lose on Tuesday in 90 minutes and am happy to see them at 8/11 with Matchbook with a +0 start on the Asian Handicap market.
Spain need plenty of chances to score and I am not sure that Italy will be that generous in allowing Spain lots of opportunities, and at the other end I believe they will have the quality to take the big chances that Spain will give up. If Italy score first, then Spain will push forward and give up even more quality chances.
I am also not convinced about the Spanish central defensive partnership. Whichever two plays have looked uncomfortable.
England have been efficient, professional and have largely looked untroubled so far. Gareth Southgate deserves huge credit for the team bond he has created his ability to work with the English press and in his pre-match team selections. Yet, I still have a nagging doubt about him.
The Three Lions have scored 18 goals at the 2018 World Cup and 2021 European Championship and 11 of these have been via set-pieces. The defending by Ukraine for all four goals was awful with Harry Maguire and Jordon Henderson almost unchallenged and Harry Kane having a free header. This is not a criticism of England, but observations from the game. I don’t think Denmark will defend so badly or give up.
Defensively, only the Germans caused them any real problems with them missing two big chances and generating a xG of 1.4 compared to England with just 1.0 xG. Over the tournament England have conceded just 0.62 non penalty xGA with Denmark 0.74, Spain 0.91 and Italy 0.58.
England have conceded the most shots per game of any of the remaining sides, but only Italy have conceded fewer shots on target with Spain 3rd and Denmark 4th. Obviously, England are yet to concede, but the Danes have conceded with 33% of shots on target conceded, if England can muster up three shots on target, statistically England should score.
However, they are only managing 7.60 shots per game with the Danes managing 17. The home side continues to struggle to create shots on target with an average of just 3.2 per game with just Hungary and Austria averaging fewer per 90 minutes. This makes the 4-0 win over Ukraine more remarkable as they only had 10 shots and scored four goals from six shots on target generating just 1.3 xG.
Their non-penalty xG per game is just 1.0 which is lower than Scotland, Poland and Austria and I am not sure that relying on scoring with 21 % of your shots and 50% of your shots on target is sustainable.
I have been impressed with the Danes. They were the better side against Finland, out played Belgium and then comfortably beat Russia and Wales and then saw off the Czechs in the quarter-final. Coach Kasper Hjulmand has been hugely impressive, and he has the ability to make sensible strategic decisions for the benefit of the team in play, which I think we have yet to see if Southgate has the ability to do the same.
Against the Czechs, Hjulmand changed his formation from a 3-4-3 to 4-3-3 and then 5-4-1 whilst still encouraging his team to attack. Even in 5-4-1 over the last 30 minutes of the match they still had three shots on target, the same as England are producing each 90 minutes.
England won’t have faced an opposition like the Danes at this tournament so far. Those sides faced by England have been very comfortable in sitting back and not attacking them maybe worried about being picked off by Southgate’s men. There is no doubt in my mind than the Danes will be keen to attack England and play their own game.
Denmark managed 20 shots and five shots on target against the top FIFA ranked side in Belgium in the group game and they certainly won’t defend like Ukraine or give up and we haven’t seen any signs of this so far in the tournament.
I think Denmark will score against England as I have mentioned they will attack them more than any other team including Germany and had Thomas Muller scored when clear through then that match may have gone a different way.
Denmark are 13/16 with VBet to score against England and that’s two high for me. This is a team that has scored 11 goals and have scored in every other apart from the opening game, despite playing this game under very difficult circumstances and they still managed to miss a penalty and generate a xG of 1.9.
This will be England’s first real test in the tournament and the highest ranked team in FIFA rankings they will have faced as Denmark sit 10th. (Czech 40th, Croatia 14th, Scotland 44th, Germany 12th and Ukraine 24th). Denmark has the second-highest goals per shots ratio from the four nations left and given the number of shots they get off; I fancy them to find the net here.
I think this game will be close and I am going to stay away from the overall result but one bet I am keen to get involved in is Kalvin Phillips to commit Over 1.5 Fouls. He has committed more fouls than any other England player and he is there to break up the play.
He was walking a suspension tightrope against Ukraine and was subbed after 65 minutes and didn’t make a tackle or commit a foul but in the games before that he has committed 2,2,2,3 fouls and for him to commit two or more here in a European Championship Semifinal at even money with Unibet looks too big to me.