European Championship Betting Guide: Tuesday 6/15/21

It's Matchday 1 in the group we've all been waiting for. Will defending champions Portugal get off on the right foot on the road?

When the dust settled on the Euro 2020 draw nearly two years ago, the main talking point from the proceedings surrounded the vaunted trio of nations who found themselves placed together in Group F.

Not often will a four-team section of a major tournament feature the last two FIFA World Cup champions and the current European title holders, but that’s exactly what the ping pong balls offered up on that November night in Bucharest.

After 18 months of waiting and wondering exactly how France, Germany, Portugal, and potential spoilers Hungary would fare against one another, kickoff in Group F is nearly here, and the matchups for Matchday 1 shouldn’t disappoint.

So who starts the group on the right note on Tuesday? Read on for the details, and be sure to check out FanDuel Sportsbook for the complete odds on this group and everything else involving Euro 2020.

Hungary vs. Portugal

Puskas Arena | Budapest, Hungary | 12pm ET
The Pick: Portugal -230

To put it mildly, the outlook for Euro 2020 isn’t great for Marco Rossi’s Hungary.

Regardless of their own merit, inclusion in a group with three elite football nations all at or near the peak of their powers make the Magyars an easy choice to go three-and-out at this tournament.

Their road to simply get here doesn’t inspire much confidence, either.

Hungary finished second-to-last in their qualifying group behind Croatia, Wales, and a Slovakia team that’s pedestrian at best, and now their most dynamic player -- RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai, who scored the game-winner in their playoff win over Iceland to reach these Euros -- will miss the entire tournament with a long-term thigh injury.

That’s a huge blow to an attack that only averaged one goal per game in qualifying.

But before you completely dismiss Hungary’s chances against the defending champions -- or versus anyone in this group -- keep in mind that they’ve played better of late, a run that includes eight wins and just one loss in their last 13 matches.

Also of note, the Hungarians were similarly unfancied in Euro 2016, only to reach the Round of 16 by topping a group that featured -- wait for it --Portugal, who they drew 3-3 with on a wild night in Lyon.

And then there’s this: two of Hungary’s three group stage matches -- this one included -- are being played at the Hungarian National Team’s stadium in Budapest, where the home side is on a six-match unbeaten run.

And yet…

As much as +700 for a Hungary win is enticing, it’s hard to pick against a Portuguese squad that is by all accounts better than the versions which won Euro 2016 and the inaugural UEFA Nations League title in 2019.

Longtime manager Fernando Santos might not set out to play attack-minded football -- the former Porto coach is a classic “Defense Wins Championships” type -- but with the likes of English Premier League stars Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva creating chances for the ageless Cristiano Ronaldo and his eye-watering 104 career goals for the national team, offense is never far away.

And while there are some concerns at the back -- the potential pairing in central defense of Pepe and José Fonte are a combined 75 years old (!!), plus Manchester City left back João Cancelo is now done for the tournament after a positive Covid-19 test -- the shape and structure that helped these Iberian giants claim two major trophies in the last five years remains intact.

(Besides, Premier League Player of the Season Rúben Dias should start ahead of Fonte, making the Seleção’s centerback partnership a more robust 62 years old.)

Lastly, if there’s hesitation to pick Portugal because of Hungary’s home field advantage, note that “home” teams at these Euros are only 3-2 through Sunday’s matches, and the three teams to pick up wins -- Italy in Rome, England in London, and the Netherlands in Amsterdam -- were all heavily favored to do so.

(The only home favorite to lose on Matchday 1 thus far has been Denmark, but given the harrowing events involving Christian Eriksen during Saturday’s contest against Finland, it’s unwise to draw much from the Danes’ 1-0 defeat. #StayStrongChristian)

In the lone test case so far of a home underdog -- Russia versus Belgium in St. Petersburg -- the road favorite won convincingly, and it’s easy to see events Tuesday in Budapest playing out in much the same fashion.

France vs. Germany

Allianz Arena | Munich, Germany | 3pm ET
The Pick: France +165 or Draw +210

Tuesday will mark the third time in the last four major tournaments that France and Germany have squared off, though the stakes on this occasion aren’t quite as high as the previous two meetings.

One was a FIFA World Cup quarterfinal won by Joachim Löw’s eventual champions in 2014, and the other a 2016 UEFA Euro semifinal that saw Les Bleus exact revenge on home soil.

Relevantly, France’s win five years ago in this competition was the second of a still-active five-match unbeaten run against their neighbors on the Rhine, a fact that’s perhaps surprising at first but less so when you consider the state of these two national teams in recent years.

After all, it was Didier Deschamps’ men who became world champions three summers ago, while the team they took that mantle from saw their journey at Russia 2018 end with a thud in the group stage.

Still, this German side has retooled since then.

Die Mannschaft finished first in a tricky qualifying group that featured the Netherlands on the strength of an attack that averaged 3.75 goals per game and a defense that earned five clean sheets in eight matches.

The squad has experience -- legendary goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, midfield metronome Toni Kroos, and the recently-recalled Thomas Müller all have at least 100 caps for the national team -- but it’s the emergence of the mid-20-year-old midfield of Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, and Segre Gnabry that have this team poised for better days ahead.

Add in the location of this meeting -- the Allianz Arena, home to the nine Bayern Munich players in this team and the site of all of Germany’s games in Group F -- and you’d have every reason to believe that the hosts could pull off a mild upset on Matchday 1.

Yet the team the Germans are facing are tournament favorites for a reason, as the two-time world champions have retained every key member from their 2018 World Cup triumph, with most still very much in their prime -- or in the case of 22-year old PSG sensation Kylian Mbappé, just entering it.

And if they needed more confidence entering Euro 2020, there’s this: in their last 20 matches, France have earned an imperious 16 wins, 3 draws, and a solitary loss -- and that came with a less-than-full-strength side in a friendly against Finland.

From an odds standpoint, you’ll likely not get the opportunity to take France at a plus-number again in this tournament, though with the game in Munich, the best value might be on the draw in this matchup of Europe’s finest.