England - Italy Betting Preview: Can the Three Lions make the semi-finals for the first time in 16 years?
England's progression has been impressive, yet Phil Kitromilides argues that the value lies in backing the Azzurri, plus there's a £50 free bet on this match for every customerIn winning a challenging group and progressing to the quarter-finals, Roy Hodgson insists that his England side have surpassed expectations.
In previous tournaments, given the rampant patriotic optimism that normally accompanies the Three Lions, this assertion would perhaps have been dismissed.
Yet with Hodgson only having been in charge of the national team for a matter of weeks, their progress to the last eight is indeed laudable.
If the England manager has set his side up to be functional and hard to break down (three of their four wins under him have been 1-0), then tonight's opponents are the undisputed masters of the defensive victory by the odd goal. Bet365 price Italy as marginal outsiders at 15/8 (2.87) to win, while England are offered at 7/4 (2.75).
Much has been made of the potential danger to England posed by Mario Balotelli, and his mercurial talents are much vaunted.
The Manchester City striker scored a stunning volley in the victory againt Ireland which ensured Italian progression, and is available at 3/1 (4.00) to score at any time.
This could be a tempting option for those looking to invest the free £50 bet that Bet365 are offering on the match, yet it could be argued Antonio Di Natale is a shrewder option for an anytime-scorer bet from the Italian ranks.
Offered at the same price, the Udinese forward's movement is exceptional, his finishing precise and clinical. Less charismatic but more reliable than Balotelli, Di Natale is a wise investment for a value bet.
But the serious money should eschew patriotic sentiments and be calculatedly invested in Italy Draw No Bet at evens (2.00).
In their opening match Cesare Prandelli's side showed they were more than capable of competing with world champions Spain. They utterly dominated Croatia in the opening 45 minutes of the following match before switching off a little in the second half and claimed a routine if unspectacular win over Ireland to progress.
Given their form in the tournament, their experience in major competitions, not to mention their recent record against England (one defeat in 22 years) Italy look overpriced in almost every market.
While for English punters it might feel deeply wrong going against Hodgson's men, the value of Italy in the Draw No Bet market is undeniable and should be taken by every savvy punter out there at Even money (2.0) with Bet365.
Don't forget, place any pre-match bet on this match with Bet365 and you will receive a free bet to use in-play, up to the value of your biggest pre-match bet, up to £50.
|Italy Draw No Bet at evens (2.00) with Bet365
Antonio Di Natale to score at any time 3/1 (4.00) Bet365
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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid, you can also follow Phil on Twitter
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