Wales qualified for their first major international tournament since the 1958 World Cup in impressive style behind Belgium and will feel confident of making it out of a group that looks fairly open. Slovakia can say much the same and if either team wins this opener they will be superbly placed to reach the second round.
Chris Coleman’s side were unbeaten for their first eight qualifiers, including in both games against Belgium, but including friendlies they’ve now gone W1-D2-L4 in their last seven matches. However, Gareth Bale was missing for the last four of those and they are a completely different team when the Real Madrid star is in the team.
Since 2013, Wales have won only one of their six games against teams placed 30th-60th in our rankings while failing to score four times with four of the matches having Under 2.5 Goals. The lack of goals is certainly a recurring theme in their recent competitive matches as nine of their last 12 games have had fewer than three goals, which increases to Under 2.5 Goals landing in nine of 10 matches when we remove their two games against teams ranked outside of our top-100.
Get 7-1 on GARETH BALE being top Wales goalscorer with PADDY POWER
Slovakia are a similar side to Wales in that they are heavily reliant on the talents of one star player, and in their case it is Napoli’s Marek Hamsik. Their form has been better than Wales’ since qualifying as they’ve beaten fellow finalists Switzerland and Iceland in addition to World Champions Germany. Furthermore, their qualifying win over Spain was every bit as impressive as Wales’ win over Belgium. They also have an excellent record facing teams with a similar ranking as their opponents here, as they’ve won six of nine matches against teams ranked 35-75 since 2011.
These teams look very to be very closely matched and they are hard to split in the match odds. Since 1996 there have been 13 group stage matches at Euro Championships that featured two teams from outside the top 20 in our rankings and the higher placed team, in this case, Slovakia has a W5-D3-L5 record. While we’d lean towards Slovakia in the match outcome market as a result of their superior form and stronger record against similar opposition, we’d want to keep the draw on our side and only back them on the Draw No Bet market at 1.95. However, the best bet in this match is in the goals markets. 11 of those 13 aforementioned Euro matches have had fewer than three goals with six having fewer than two and as a result Under 1.5 Goals represents value at 2.5.
Click here to find out more about Football Form Labs' Euro 2016 coverage