This article is part of our Betting on Soccer series.
Euro 2020 begins Friday with one match and then it's full-go the next couple weeks. I discussed futures bets last week and now it's time to look at things on a game-by-game basis. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that a lot of teams will have home games (or at least play in their home country). Italy play all three of their group stage matches in the same stadium in Rome. Even if you don't like their team, that's a significant edge, especially with fans expected to be in the stands.
Italy (-167) v. Turkey (+600) in Roma
Italy open the tournament against Turkey in Friday's lone match. While it's not an easy matchup, Italy are still a decent -167 favorite to win. Given Italy's defensive performances, I'm looking to benefit in that aspect. They didn't allow a goal in three World Cup qualifiers a couple months ago and gave up just two in six UEFA Nations League matches over the past year. Even better, Turkey were held scoreless in three of their matches in that tournament.
That leads me to Italy to win to nil at +128, pointing to a simple 1-0 or 2-0 win. I think a lot of Italy's matches will be low scoring and the goal is to find bets that produce some money. Under 2.5 goals is -157 and both teams not to score is -159, so the win to nil route is probably the best play, assuming you want to back Italy.
Wales (+280) v. Switzerland (+120) in Baku
If Italy win the group as expected, everyone else will be playing for second. Wales are expected to finish last in the group, but similar to Italy, they want to play defensively. In the same group as Finland, Ireland and Bulgaria, they allowed just one goal in six Nations League matches. Their strategy is to keep teams out of net and hope Gareth Bale can do the rest. If you like them to win at +280, it may be better to go to +460 to win to nil. I'd rather just take Switzerland at +120 to win straight up. You can get better value on Wales, but I think the Swiss have a more complete team with Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri in the midfield surrounded by a slew of Bundesliga players.
Denmark (-220) v. Finland (+775) in Copenhagen
There won't be many taking Finland in this spot because of a lack of name recognition, especially if Teemu Pukki isn't healthy enough to start. They like to play compact, but if the matchup isn't right, things can go awry pretty quickly, as seen in recent friendly losses to Switzerland (3-2) and Sweden (2-0), as well as a loss to Estonia in their most-recent scrimmage. As for Denmark, there's not much to dislike, as the only team they lost to in the past year was Belgium.
Even though that don't have a standout striker, scoring hasn't been a problem, mainly because their back seven is fairly stocked, from Christian Eriksen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the midfield to Jannik Vestergaard and Simon Kjaer on the back line. If Pukki doesn't play, I don't see a route for Finland to score. I don't want to keep taking the same bet, but Denmark are -105 to win to nil. If not, Denmark -1.5 at +148 seems like another route to ensure you don't get burned by a stoppage-time Pukki goal off the bench.
Belgium (-134) v. Russia (+390) in St. Petersburg
Belgium are one of the favorites for the entire tournament, so if you want to bet them in their first match, do it sooner rather than later. I originally thought more money would be on Belgium, but it's possible the sharps are looking at Russia, as Belgium were -148 to win a few days prior to writing and now they're -134. I don't think Russia are good, but this game is in St. Petersburg. If you don't remember, Russia made a surprise run in the last World Cup, largely because they played in Russia, getting to penalties against both Spain and Croatia in the knockout rounds.
Belgium should win this match, but I don't think it's worth it to take them on the moneyline, especially since Russia will still have confidence in their first match and playing at home only helps. If you don't care about sides, over 2.5 goals is at -106 and there are numerous ways to get there, whether Belgium win 3-0 or it finishes 2-2. I also think Russia win or draw at +114 is in play if you like betting on Russians.