England conclude their first round of fixtures at Euro 2016 with a clash against Slovakia as Roy Hodgson’s men attempt to seal a first-place finish in Group B (8pm Monday, ITV1). Read on for our match preview with betting tips.
A dramatic last-gasp winner against Wales on Thursday brought England their first win at this year’s European Championship. A spirited comeback was rounded off by Daniel Sturridge’s stoppage-time strike after Jamie Vardy (pictured) had levelled the scores following Gareth Bale’s first-half free-kick.
It was a potentially pivotal victory for England, who would otherwise have been eliminated from the competition with defeat against Slovakia, and one that means top spot is within their hands ahead of the group’s finale on Monday. Finishing first would provide – in theory at least – a simpler path to the latter rounds of the competition, so Hodgson will be desperate to pick up another three points even though England’s current tally of four is probably already enough for a place in the knockout stage.
The former Fulham manager deserves credit for his proactive substitutions in the defeat of Wales, with Vardy and Sturridge both introduced at half-time when Chris Coleman’s charges were leading 1-0. Marcus Rashford joined them later in place of Adam Lallana, and England’s pressure eventually told as Dele Alli and Sturridge combined well for the Liverpool striker’s match-winning goal.
Although Hodgson was clearly bold with his changes, it is unclear whether a strategy of simply throwing on a trio of centre-forwards would pay dividends in the same way against stronger opposition later in the tournament. Indeed, while England have generally played very well in their first two games against Russia and Wales, there is still plenty of room for improvement as they prepare to take on Slovakia at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne on Monday evening.
Jan Kozak’s side have everything to play for against England, with the three points they obtained by defeating Russia last time out unlikely to be enough for a spot in the last 16. Slovakia were deservedly edged out by Wales in their first outing, beaten 2-1 thanks to goals from Bale and Hal Robson-Kanu. They were much improved in their second ever European Championship encounter on Wednesday, however, with Slovakia happy to sit deep, cede possession and frustrate the Russians, before springing forward and causing problems on the counter-attack.
Napoli playmaker Marek Hamsik was superb in that match, laying on one goal and scoring the other with a wonderful finish from a tight angle, and England will have to be wary about the damage he can cause if he is given time and space between the lines of midfield and defence. Slovakia looked like a cohesive and well-drilled unit against Russia, and it is by no means a given that England will record a comfortable victory. It is worth remembering that Slovakia recorded a famous win over Italy in their final group game at the 2010 World Cup to advance to the knockout stage and knock the Azzurri out of the competition.
Our Preview’s Slovakia v England Betting Tips
In spite of that, this preview concludes that England should have enough quality to be able to register a second successive triumph when they meet the Slovakians on Monday. For the third straight Three Lions’ match both teams could get on the scoresheet, with a draw in the first half and an England win in the second a potentially good bet. Many Euro 2016 games have started slowly and featured more goals after the interval than before it.
In terms of the correct score betting market, the odds available on a 3-1 England victory make that wager look particularly tempting, with Sturridge arguably the best option to find the back of the net before any other player on the pitch.