Here’s my quick overview of the next 3 games in the round of 16 that are being played on Sunday 26th June.

France v Republic Of Ireland.

Odds:

Well this one does already appear to have the odds in place to do an ASP trade. But you have to watch the market close to the game to be sure with all of these. Right now there are attractive AOHW odds combined with not unattractive 0-0 odds. The correct score market, as is often the case, favours 1-0 currently (no surprise there).

Of course this particular piece of information is largely irrelevant because the market very often favours 1-0 over anything else in a big International competition simply because of the highly competitive nature of such things. The formula is simply: “Who is likely to win?” Followed by an attempt at assessing by how much. The safe call is always to say “well the favourite will get a goal”.

A better way to interpret odds is to compare over 3.5 goals with AO. If under 3.5 goals reads 1.4 or higher, then the market isn’t totally convinced about it being under 3.5 goals. If that combines with an AO figure of less than 10, then you absolutely need to watch out for a goal rush.

BUT, when all is said and done, the market cannot get it right all of the time.

Conclusion:

France are currently still the tournament favourites, marginley, over Germany. However, the Republic of Ireland have been heroic in their campaign and not least with their astounding 1-0 defeat of Italy. I didn’t see the game but understand that Ireland absolutely deserved their win.  If you can beat Italy then you can beat France perhaps? But the French do have home crowd advantage and, without doubt, more flair on the attack and I wouldn’t read too much into Switzerland holding them to a 0-0 draw in their last game.

If Oliver Giroud is back in the French team (and I would be stunned if he were not) and Pogba and Payet are also playing then I think the Irish will struggle and so I see either 2-0 to France or 2-1 if Ireland can really pull out the stops and surprise France with a goal. I also still think it is quite possible that Giroud will figure in the top scorer contest.

It is hard, at this stage, to imagine France not getting to the final, let alone the next round.

Germany v Slovakia.

Odds:

No surprises here at the moment either in the market. AOHW is in range and 0-0 is looking OK. Once again the cautious market suggests 1-0 as favourite score-line currently but in this instance, 2-0 is very close. The difference is that Ireland are seen as highly defensive and difficult to breakdown, making the French task harder, and Slovakia are seen as a little more open making the German task easier.

Conclusion:

I can actually see one of those big games from Germany. I can see 3-0 and whenever I can see 3-0 I have to assume that AO could be threatened. But, this tournament keeps surprising me and Slovakia totally surprised me when they held England to a draw. When I watched Germany play Northern Ireland I was stunned that they scored only once and felt sure that having finally broken down the defence and got past the brilliant Michael McGovern in goal, they were going to open the floodgates.

It seems perhaps strange that I said “finally” after all, the goal came in 30 minutes not 90; but Germany had absolutely battered the opponents goal mouth already by then. Slovakia, I feel will be a different story and will buckle under such attack more quickly.

Hungary v Belgium.

Odds:

Again, the same story as with the two games above but with a slightly more cautious set of AO odds to the favourites Belgium. This is not surprising given the (almost) take down of Portugal by the Hungarians in the last game with that incredible 3-3 result.

Conclusion:

Belgium are a very talented side and I still don’t think they have shown us what they can do yet. They barely scraped a win from Sweden in their last but I understand (sadly didn’t see it so can’t talk first hand) that the game was free flowing and lively with plenty of chances both ends. It does seem though that there is a striker problem in the Belgium squad at the moment or, to be more precise, lack of striker.

I have liked Belgium’s chances from the start but they haven’t impressed as much as I had expected and Hungary, in contrast, have been nothing short of spectacular so a shock could be on the cards here for sure. My prediction though is a win to Belgium with a result of 1-2. I firmly believe that they haven’t even got into second gear yet striker or no striker.

Hungary managed one win so far against a very disappointing Austria. They also managed a stunning 3-3 draw against Portugal. But Portugal are all about one man (Ronaldo of course) and he pretty much saved Portugal from defeat against Hungary. Yet the Hungarians with all their gusto and flair could not beat Iceland.

Now I know that Iceland have had a bit of a fairytale tournament but, nevertheless, they should be beatable. Let’s face it, we need to think they are comfortably beatable otherwise England are going to have yet another of those horrid tournaments when they come up against Iceland on Monday.

So my conclusion from all of that is that Belgium will be the team to finally show us that Hungary haven’t quite got what it takes to go any further even though they have been one of the more impressive sides in the tournament up to now.

One of the most difficult things to do with any International football is to be able to genuinely appraise how good a team is when they haven’t been tested against the best opposition. Often, strange as it seems, a team needs to be up against a team it perceives to be better than or at least equal to itself to play their best otherwise they underestimate and often pay the price.

The round of 16 is a different story from the group stage. The mathematical game ends and it becomes win or bust. Now they have to show their talent as well as their guts and there is no safety net like a 3rd place qualification to ease the ride. 16 will become 8 and the 8 will need to be good enough. The underestimation of the opposition tends to be less in evidence. Everyone that you play now wants to go on and win the whole thing, whoever they are.