Group A: Turkey vs. Italy Odds
|Over/Under||2 (-136 / +112)|
|Day | Time||Friday | 3 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday afternoon via DraftKings.|
The sporting spectacle of the summer gets underway on Friday afternoon as Italy takes on Turkey to kick off Euro 2020 in front of 18,500 fans at Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
While most folks will think that this match looks like a walkover for the Azzurri considering they are -190 favorites, Turkey have caught some sleeper hype over the past few weeks, shortening from +8000 to +5000 to win the tournament at most sportsbooks. The Italians have also taken money in the future market, coming down from +1100 to +900 over the past fortnight or so.
Let’s dive in.
Turkey: A Legitimate Sleeper?
Turkey are a high-ceiling, low-floor team that has the talent to pull a result against any team in this competition on their day. To illustrate that point all you need to do is look at the Crescent-Stars’ results leading up to this tournament.
Over the past 18 months or so, Turkey finished bottom of a group that included Russia, Hungary and Serbia in the UEFA Nations League. However, they also earned 3-3 draws against Germany and Croatia; beat the Netherlands, 4-2; dismantled Norway, 3-0; and, then added further confusion by drawing a home against Latvia.
In other words, this is a team that can beat anybody, but also lose to anybody.
Turkey’s defensive record mirrors its Jekyll-and-Hyde nature. After allowing just three goals in 10 games during Euro qualifying, Turkey went ahead and shipped 19 goals over its next 11 matches. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the Crescent-Stars have a solid defense on paper, with Merih Demiral (Juventus), Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester), Ozan Kabak (Liverpool) and Zeki Celik (Lille) featured in the back.
We have no idea which version of Turkey’s defense will show up, but backers can at least be confident that it has the talent to be a sturdy group, and it shouldn’t be overmatched by Switzerland and Wales.
While Turkey’s defense and spine look to be in decent shape, their attack has the potential to make them a bona fide sleeper. Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan) is more than capable of pulling the strings, and he will be supported by a cast that includes Zeki Celik, Burak Yilmaz and Yusuf Yazici, all three of whom are coming to the Euros on the heels of winning Ligue 1 with upstart Lille.
While Italy have more talent in almost every part of the pitch, there are some concerns over the Azzurri’s finishing capabilities. Turkey’s 4-1-4-1 formation could further that issue, as it allows them to get plenty of red shirts behind the ball.
Where Will Italy’s Goals Come From?
It’s really hard to judge form going into an international tournament, since the calendar is stop-start and riddled with meaningless friendlies, but there is no denying what Italy have done since the last World Cup. The Azzurri have not lost a match since Sept. 10, 2018 and have gone unbeaten since Roberto Mancini took over the squad, a streak that sits at 24 matches.
Throw in the fact Italy went 10-0-0 with 37 goals for and only four goals against in their qualifying campaign and it’s easy to see why bookmakers have made Italy -200 favorites to win Group A.
As usual, the Italians are built from the back to the front. Mancini has one of the world’s best goalkeepers — Gianluigi Donnarumma — and he’ll be helped by a backline anchored by veteran Serie A stars Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
The Azzurri also have plenty of star power in the middle of the pitch, with Jorginho, Marco Veratti (who is expected to miss the team’s opening match) and Nicolo Barella.
While their spine and defense is stout as ever, the question for this Italian side will be whether or not it can score enough goals to make its defensive marks hold up.
Although the Italians have productive goalscorers like Ciro Immobile, Lorenzo Insigne, Federico Chiesa and Andrea Belotti in their ranks, they don’t have that prolific target man. That could spell trouble against a Turkish team that did a terrific job keeping the ball out of the back of the net over the past few years.
Betting Analysis & Pick
It may sound a bit insane, but I think there is a viable path to an upset for Turkey in this match.
For one, I expect Turkey to be set-up to frustrate the Italians. They’ll have no problem ceding possession to the Azzurri and will instead focus on being well-organized in their own third to prevent Italy from creating many quality scoring chances. Italy’s strikers are much more comfortable running onto the ball in behind defenses rather than breaking them down, so I’m actually pretty confident that Soyuncu and Demiral will provide Turkey a platform to perhaps nick a point or three in this match.
Should the defense hold up, watch out because Turkey have plenty of talent to knock Italy back on the counter. Bonucci and Chiellini have defied age thus far in their careers, but with this tournament coming on the heels of basically 12 months of non-stop football, I would not be shocked to see the Azzurri give up a few golden chances on the break in this one.
I think Turkey are a live underdog even on the road and can be bet in a number of ways. You can take them on the two-way moneyline (if they draw, you push), back them on the spread or, if you’re feeling froggy, take a shot on the Crescent-Stars at 7/1.
Is there a better way to start off the Euros than by backing a +700 underdog? I think not.
Pick: Turkey +700