Portugal take on France in Budapest on Wednesday in a 8pm kick-off.
Les Blues are already assured of their progression to the knockout stages, while avoiding defeat will guarantee that Portugal join them.
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As such, there’s a temptation to expect a bit of a bore draw here rather than the classic it could be given the amount of talent there will be on the pitch and that it is a repeat of the 2016 final.
I’m inclined to agree with this line of thinking to be honest, particularly if it remains goalless beyond the hour mark.
However, there is an incentive for France to win the game and top Group F: they would play Switzerland (or Ukraine) in the last-16, rather than England, Belgium or Netherlands, as would be the case if they finish second or third.
The bookmakers appear to have factored this into their thinking, with France the 23/20 favourites to win. The draw is 21/10, with a Portugal win 11/4.
Despite the aforementioned incentive, I just don’t think it’s in Didier Deschamps’ nature to approach this game with any sense of urgency.
It’s essentially a free hit for his team – they’re already through and could knock out a potentially dangerous opponent in the latter stages with a win, particularly a heavy one – but I doubt we’ll see anything too different to the opening two games, where France have been solid but unspectacular.
For Portugal, caution would be more understandable after their bruising 4-2 defeat to Germany. Moreover, providing Die Mannschaft do not lose to Hungary in Munich, Fernando Santos’ side should be through to the last-16 as one of the four best third-placed sides as long as they do not lose to France by more than two goals. (Their goal difference is two better than Ukraine, but they’ve already scored one more goal than them.)
Santos will be looking for much more defensive stability, then, particularly against the pace of Kylian Mbappe. Even if they were to go a goal behind, I wouldn’t expect their line to push too high at all given the context of the group, unless Hungary were unexpectedly winning of course.
Moreover, these two sides played each other in the Nations League last Autumn, with the results ending 0-0 and 0-1 to France, so I’ll back Under 4 Goals for Both Teams Combined.
With the amount of counter-attacking threat both sides possess, I fancy a card for both teams, especially with Antonio Mateu Lahoz in charge. He’s not been his usual card-dishing “Spanish Mike Dean” self in recent times, but 1+ card for each team has still landed in 17 of his last 20 matches in all competitions.
In terms of player bets, I like the look of N’Golo Kante 3+ tackles, Pepe 1+ tackle and Diogo Jota 2+ shots at 10/3 (bet365).
Kante has made six tackles in his two matches at Euro 2020, with 3+ tackles landing in each of his last nine league starts of the season for Chelsea, as well as in the Champions League final.
Pepe has made a tackle in both of his games at Euro 2020 and will surely have to make one at some point against Mbappe in his channel, while the 38-year-old also made one in seven of his last eight league starts for Porto and in four of his last five Champions League starts for them, too.
Jota, meanwhile, has now had two or more shots in each of his last 14 starts for club and country, and should have plenty of confidence after a goal and an assist against Germany.
Along similar lines, I’m also backing Pepe and Kante to be carded at 28/1 (bet365). Kante has made three fouls in both games at Euro 2020 but is yet to be cautioned, and he’s likely to have a tough job against the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jota in transition.
Pepe was in the thick of things against Germany, meanwhile, and may have to bring Mbappe down at some point. This double is only around 16/1 with most other major bookmakers, so looks to have some value.
Under 4 Goals, 1+ card each team & Over 3 Corners @ EVS (bet365)
N’Golo Kante 3+ tackles, Pepe 1+ tackle & Diogo Jota 2+ shots @ 10/3 (bet365)
Pepe & N’Golo Kante to be carded @ 28/1 (bet365)