With the last 16 done and dusted we have to wait until Thursday for our next Euro 2016 fix so I’ll take a look at the tournament outright market today.
Croatia were my last tip for the trophy and I’m still smarting from that one. They outplayed Portugal for large periods, dominating possession and enjoying the better chances, but were hit with a sucker punch at the end.
But that’s gone now, Croatia will lick their wounds and go again no doubt. Of the remaining teams Italy look like real contenders.
Antonio Conte’s side were not particularly fancied going into Euro 2016, largely due to a lack of any real star names, particularly in attack, but what everyone – myself included – failed to acknowledge was just how good a team they are as a whole.
Conte has been in charge of Italy since 2014 and over that time they have become an incredibly effective unit with an almost impenetrable backline.
They have conceded just once in France and that was in their final group game against the Republic of Ireland when Conte shuffled his pack as they had already qualified as group winners.
Next up for the Azzurri are Germany and that is probably their hardest remaining fixture. France are potential semi-final opponents and a side as rigid and disciplined as Italy should be able to take full advantage of a suspect Les Bleus defence
In terms of potential final opponents, Italy have already outclassed Belgium and nothing I’ve seen from Portugal, Poland or Wales should really trouble them.
My thinking is the winner of the quarter-final between Germany and Italy will probably go on and claim Euro 2016 outright. The Germans are 3/1 and, with Italy at 13/2, the value is with Conte’s men ahead of what is basically a 50-50 last-eight showdown.