France to sink Scotland, Northern Ireland to stall Slovakia in final warm-ups
Holly Thackeray | June 3, 2016
It’s a chock-a-block week of final preparatory fixtures before Euro 2016 kicks off good and proper, giving punters a last chance to spy on the form of favourites and outsiders that may be worth a wager later in the month.
Saturday allows Scotland supporters to have their last opportunity for a flutter on the tartan team until September, as Gordon Strachan’s guys square-up to fearsome Euro hosts France (11/4 shouts with Coral to capture the crown on home soil).
While, in our other selected scuffle, heroic Home Nation Northern Ireland attempt to ruffle Slovakia’s feathers in their ultimate outing before a maiden European Championship. This is one England and Wales fans may want to watch too, ahead of their own Euro encounters with the Slovakians.
So, read on as we preview the matches and best bets…
Slovakia v Northern Ireland
- International friendly
- Saturday, June 4th
- Kick-off: 19:45 BST
- Stadion Antona Malatinskeho, Trnava
- Live on BBC Two NI
Norn Iron should test surprising Slovakia
It may not be the most glamorous warm-up game going by names, but Northern Ireland’s trip to Slovakia has the makings of a fantastic match-up between two European Championship underdogs and in-form teams.
Norn Iron are a nifty 15/4 to record a win on the road, as Michael O’Neill’s men have gone undefeated in 11 on their magnificent march to a first ever Euro finals appearance. Yet, from a recent scalp list which includes Slovenia, Belarus, Greece and Latvia, hosts the Falcons, rated one FIFA ranking place ahead of their opponents in 24th, will be their most rigorous test.
Having also held the likes of Hungary and Wales, the stubborn Northern Irish side are 12/5 for a splitting of spoils in Trnava, but Slovakia will certainly have other ideas on home turf, after an impressive 3-1 drubbing of world champions Germany away at Augsburg.
Battling a British side will be an excellent illustration of Jan Kozak’s contingent ahead of their Group B Euro encounters with Wales and England, and the Falcons are odds-on at 17/20 to fire out a winning warning.
Grigg to gobble yet more goals
Norn Iron have a much more daunting task to emerge from a perilous Pool C featuring Germany, Poland and Ukraine, where it could prove crucial to disrupt midfield.
Manchester United academy product and defender Paddy McNair could prove a key man here, having impressed further forward as a midfield shield recently, with O’Neill stating: “Paddy has great versatility. We started him in the holding midfield role against Belarus and in the second half when Steven Davis came off we pushed him further forward because he’s capable of doing that.
“He looks very comfortable playing at this level,” finished the canny coach, with McNair 12/1 in the anytime market to add a goal to his game. While, Norwich City net threat Kyle Lafferty is 11/2 to fire in first following his opener versus Belarus. Wigan Athletic hero Will Grigg also grabbed the last goal in that game, and though we’ll stop short of saying he’s on fire the 24-year-old is full of confidence, which makes him a tasty 6/1 for the final say.
Meanwhile, Slovakia’s Serie A-based stars Marek Hamsik and Juraj Kucka were both on target in Germany and are 5/4 and 7/1 to get on the scoresheet anytime respectively.
France v Scotland
- International friendly
- Saturday, June 4th
- Kick-off: 20:00 BST
- Stade Saint-Symphorien, Metz
- Live on Premier Sports
Scottish scalp in sight for France as run-up to Romania
Scotland are 10/1 to stun France on their own soil, as the Home Nation surprisingly boast a better head-to-head record against their Saturday night rivals, with eight victories to seven.
Still, this is no ordinary French team the Scots will be dealing with, as Les Bleus (odds-on 2/7 match favourites) enter this final encounter before they host Euro 2016 as tournament favourites on the back of nine triumphs in 10 tussles.
Didier Deschamps’ squad have scored a swashbuckling 10 goals in their previous three fixtures, but concerns about their defensive stability with several high profile names missing from the rearguard have proven correct, as France also leaked six on those last three matches too.
As Russia and Cameroon found a way to threaten the French rearguard, the Scots should have hope of striking after a recent narrow loss to more defensively stout Italy. So, customers may fancy a 12/5 flutter on a France triumph with both teams to score, with a draw at 9/2.
Fierce forwards back for Les Bleus
However, as Scotland boss Gordon Strachan highlighted, France are streets ahead going forward. The coach told press: “What you can’t be ready for sometimes is pure brilliance, [Dimitri] Payet’s free-kicks, individual brilliance like [Paul] Pogba’s cross the other day for [Olivier] Giroud’s goal was just phenomenal.”
Set-piece sensation Payet has poached two in as many of his last internationals, with both late goals and is 7/1 to strike last, while Pogba is 2/1 to grab a goal of his own anytime after sublimely supplying Giroud (even-money) against Cameroon.
While, in a further show of dangerous depth, tremendous attacking talents Antoine Griezmann (7/2 to strike first) and Anthony Martial (even-money anytime) could return to the XI ahead of the Euro 2016 curtain raiser against Romania.
Tartan team Scotland’s best chance of bagging rests with Premier League players Steven Fletcher (11/4) and Matt Ritchie (11/4), with Championship frontman Ross McCormack (11/2) also a shout to shock France.
Check out more on France, Northern Ireland and co in our excellent Euro 2016 archive!
Coral’s top tip: Pick Payet at 7/1 to score last.