ROBBIE FOWLER: Italy a decent punt at $17

Ex-Liverpool and Perth Glory goal-machine has Winner, Top Goalscorer and more Euro 2016 tips.

Robbie Fowler
 | 
Thu, 9 Jun, 4:09 PM

Playing on home soil in front of your own fans can make a huge difference - in 1996 the country’s support nearly swept us to victory, so it makes sense as to why France have such a strong record in competitions in their homeland. Les Bleus look almost certain to go far this summer, but their price reflects this and other teams offer better value.

I’m convinced that Italy (best odds $17) are hugely underrated, and I believe they will do far better than what a lot of people are predicting. Antonio Conte’s men are very solid at the back with three of the first choice four; Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzaghi being teammates at Juventus, which is always a bonus. And, let’s face it, despite his years Gianluigi Buffon is still one of the best ‘keepers in the business.

You shouldn’t forget that Italy had the strength in depth to leave someone of Andrea Pirlo’s class out of the squad altogether. I’m also not worried about the manner of their victories throughout qualifying – the slate is wiped clean when you start a major tournament, and the Azzurri have contested the final in two European Championships from the last five. I’m particularly keen on Graziano Pelle, their biggest threat up-front, and $17 on the Italians lifting the trophy is just too big to resist.

The Top Goalscorer market features several strong contenders, including the likes of Thomas Muller, Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane and Alvaro Morata. But I think France will take advantage of a fairly weak Group A and, with that in mind, Olivier Giroud is a huge price at $15. Arsenal supporters have been regularly frustrated with him this season, but he’s key for the French and will no doubt get plenty of opportunities to net. He’s struck seven times in France's last seven outings and, assuming he doesn’t pick up a knock, will fill his boots in the Group Stage.

Whilst I don’t think England quite have enough to win the whole thing, I see no reason why Roy Hodgson’s men won’t get through Group B at a canter, and the $1.85 for the Three Lions to come out on top of the pool is attractive. Whilst I’m not sure if Hodgson knows his first XI for the opener against Russia yet, I’d be pretty disappointed if we didn’t pick up a victory with plenty left in the locker.

Russia and Slovakia give me nothing to lose sleep about, and ultimately we are a far stronger unit than Wales. That makes me think that the $5.5 on England winning all three group clashes to pick up the maximum 9 points in the opening stage is more than tempting.

Another big fancy of mine is the $7 for the Czech Republic to lose all three group games and finish with zero points. The Czechs’ defence leaks goals left, right and centre and, with their opening fixture being against the Spanish, they’ll be up against it from the start. Croatia and Turkey also look like tough opponents, and Pavel Vrba’s men look well set for failure.

Don’t worry if you prefer a shorter price punt, Robert Lewandowski to be Poland's Top Scorer is an absolute tap-in! It should also feature in any Doubles or Trebles you put together.

Good luck,

Robbie

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