After weeks of anticipation and plenty of futures analysis, the moment we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.
Matches at the European Championship begin on Friday, with six games on Saturday and Sunday following the Italy-Turkey opener.
Denmark will likely close as the biggest favorite of the weekend -- the Danes are currently -239 against Finland -- while Italy are the only other favorite of -200 or greater on the board.
There are plenty of options to consider for the weekend at PointsBet Sportsbook, but here are some of my favorite bets for the whole weekend.
Best Bet #1 - Italy vs. Turkey UNDER 2.5 Goals (-175)
Defense will be the name of the game Friday at the Stadio Olimpico with both teams placing emphasis on the play of their respective back lines.
While Italy possesses a much stronger attack, the Turkey centre-half pairing of Leicester’s Çaglar Soyuncu and Juventus central defender Merih Demirahal is a strong partnership.
As for the Italians, you’ll likely see a pairing of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, both from Juventus, with Jorginho holding in front of the pair.
The stat that drives me in this bet’s direction is that in both Nations League and World Cup qualifying, the Azzurri have yet to play a match to over 2.5 goals.
In their six Nations League matches this past fall, four of six matches landed on two goals with one match finishing 1-0 and the final fixture producing a 0-0 draw.
For Turkey, four of their six Nations League matches in the fall finished under 2.5 goals.
Even though we’ve witnessed matches for Italy with a high offensive output -- a 4-0 victory against the Czech Republic in a tune-up last week, for example -- I envision a tight contest between two Group A contenders.
Best Bet #2 - Denmark Goal-Line (-1) vs. Finland (-135)
The Danes are unbeaten in the last year against teams not named Belgium and start their Euro campaign with a true home match in Parken.
Finland, with the exception of Norwich striker Teemu Pukki, simply cannot level with the quality of Denmark.
At this price, I believe you’re getting a good push protection in the event of a 1-0 or 2-1 Denmark victory.
But I believe Kasper Hjulmand’s squad is capable of winning this match by two or more goals. Despite a four-match winning streak in the heart of their Nations League campaign, Finland lost both their tune-up matches and are winless in their last six matches (D2-L4).
Denmark, meanwhile, looked quite strong in their tune-ups. A 1-1 draw against Germany followed by a 2-0 win over Bosnia has this side in good form with no real injury concerns.
The other angle attack I’d potentially look toward in this match is finding a parlay partner for Denmark to Score the First Goal (-264). It’s a high price to lay on its own, but I question whether Finland will score at all on Saturday.
I’d be looking for an option that gets that down to even money or better. Two options I like would be the Italy Moneyline (-200) on Friday or the Portugal Moneyline (-209) on Tuesday.
Best Bet #3 - Belgium Goal-Line (-1) vs. Russia (+135)
By far my most nervy selection of the weekend, as I do think Russia can cause headaches when they play at their absolute best.
But the fact remains that in the 2014 World Cup, 2016 Euros and 2018 World Cup, Belgium went a perfect 6-0-0 against teams that finished in third or fourth in the group. Barring a surprise, I don’t expect either Belgium or Denmark to finish that low.
Despite likely entering the match without both Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel, the Red Devils are unbeaten in their last seven against the Russians and won both matches in Euro qualifying against Russia by a 7-2 aggregate margin.
At +135, you’re getting the exact same push protection as above with Denmark, so if you get a one-goal win from Belgium, you live to bet another day.
If you prefer to avoid bringing a push into play, the moneyline price on Belgium (-143) is more than fair and I’d personally play it up through -160.
Plus, despite their home field advantage in St. Petersburg, Russia only have a 50 percent winning percentage in home matches this year.
Finally, I’ll leave you with one prop I’m eyeing as a good price option for this match. Romelu Lukaku Anytime Goal is +110 as of this writing, and given the absence of De Bruyne and Eden Hazard likely starting on the bench, I’ll give that prop a hard look once lineups come out.
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