Jason McAteer’s Latest Picks
North Macedonia vs Netherlands – Netherlands to win at 3/10 (1.30)
Ukraine vs Austria – Draw at 1/1 (2.00)
Belgium vs Finland – Belgium to win at 3/8 (1.38)
Russia vs Denmark – Denmark to win at 4/5 (1.80)
England vs Czech – England to win at 5/8 (1.62)
Scotland vs Croatia – Croatia to win at 7/5 (2.40)
Spain vs Slovakia – Draw at 5/1 (6.00)
Poland vs Sweden – Draw at 23/10 (3.30)
France vs Portugal – France to win at 5/4 (2.25)
Germany vs Hungary – Germany to win at 1/5 (1.20)
Tournament so far
To be honest, I’ve been really impressed with the whole tournament. I think it’s really hit the ground running. Sometimes with international tournaments, you can have a number of games where it’s not that great, but I think this competition has been brilliant. We’ve seen some great goals and some great games. We haven’t quite seen an upset yet – I think that’s coming in round two.
England vs Croatia
I think everyone was trying to judge Gareth Southgate’s team selections for a number of days – even during the friendlies. I don’t think anyone had any idea what his lineup would be against Croatia.
Kieran Trippier was the big surprise to come in at left-back – with there being Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw available. He’s gone with a quality set-piece taker in Kieran Trippier, not to mention the fact that he’s also a good defender.
To go with Raheem Sterling and not Jack Grealish was also a surprise in some quarters. Raheem Sterling answered his critics and got his goal.
Kalvin Phillips put in a great performance; I think he would have missed out if Jordan Henderson was fit.
For 20 minutes, England were very good. They started the game very well. Home fans in Wembley Stadium was a big plus for England. They took the game to an ageing, slow, and tired Croatia, but they didn’t get the breakthrough. Of course, they did hit the post with Foden, and it might have been a different game if he’s scored.
England got the goal in the second half, but it was a sort of performance where they ran out of ideas. With all the quality that they’ve got upfront in the attacking areas, they couldn’t find a way to break the Croatians down. But, one moment of inspiration, one moment of the Croatians switching off and Marcelo Brozović getting caught out by Sterling’s run – great ball from Kalvin Phillips and England get the all-important goal, and they go through.
Gareth Southgate will take the positives out of it. It’s a win, the first game of the group, and they’ll take it.
Scotland vs Czech Republic
I think the Scots were overcome with nerves in Hampden Park with fans in the stadium.
I think it was a difficult afternoon for Scotland. The positives are that they did create chances, and on another day, it may have been a different scoreline. They have been unbeaten in their previous four games against the Czechs, and I think they thought they were going into the game as firm favourites, but it didn’t turn out that way.
Two moments of absolute quality were the undoing of the Scots – first the header by Patrick Schick, and then what’s probably already the goal of the tournament, Patrick Schick bending one in from the inside of his own half, over the keeper and making it 2-0.
Overall it was a disappointing day for the Scots. I think they will need to regroup. Steve Clarke has to pick them up and restore some confidence in them before they go up against England this Friday.
I think they’ll be up for it, but we’ll need to wait and see who will run out as winners.
England vs Scotland – Prediction
I don’t think it will be as open as England fans think.
With all the quality that England has, I think Gareth Southgate will tinker with the squad.
Don’t forget, most of the players are shattered after a long season, so I think there will be a lot of tinkering for the second game in the groups. Teams will change formations and look to utilise their squads. I think both England and Scotland will look to do that.
That being said, on paper, England will be the stronger team and over 90 minutes, I think that will shine through.
I hope the Scots don’t get defeated heavily; I don’t think they will. I think the score will be close.
My score prediction is 2-0 for England.
Saturday Euro Treble
Portugal – Germany
The Portuguese – with the quality they’ve got – they found a way to win their game in the dying moments of the match.
When fatigue sets in and the mind switches off, top quality players come into fruition. Cristiano Ronaldo ran the show in the last 10 minutes, and the Portuguese were unbelievable.
It was a decent performance by the Germans.
They didn’t come into this tournament with great confidence. I don’t think anyone really put the Germans anywhere near winning it.
They’ve still got quality, but they struggled without a goal scorer against the French. Timo Werner came on and didn’t really do anything. I was a bit surprised he didn’t start wide left, but Joachim Low decided to go with different personnel.
I’m going to go with a draw for Portugal vs Germany – 1-1.
Spain – Poland
Last week for Spain, it was death by passing, unfortunately. They didn’t put their opponents to the sword, and it ended up being a difficult night for the Spanish. I think Sweden had arguably the best chances considering they had about 10% possession.
That’s what we’ve become accustomed to with Spain. Luis Enrique has tried to change it and be more direct, more clinical by pressing higher up the pitch, but it didn’t work out for the Spaniards.
In saying that, again, I think there will be personnel changes, possible formation changes for the Spanish. I do think they’ll beat Poland.
Poland didn’t really offer anything in their first game.
I think the Spanish will run out as the winners, 2-0 Spain.
Hungary – France
I’m going to go with 3-0 France.
Most impressive teams
The Dutch have impressed me. They’ve shown that they’ve got a bit of versatility. No Virgil van Dijk which is obviously difficult for them. They impressed me when they went 2-0 up.
There was a slight lapse of concentration and a bit of complacency amongst the Dutch, but to win the game and do that (concede two goals after scoring two) is sometimes not a bad thing. It’s a slap on the wrist, a little reminder. Frank De Boer will have gone into the dressing room and given them a dressing down. It was a bad thing by the Dutch, but they got away with it. It was a decent performance.
The Belgians with no Eden Hazard, he only got 20 minutes. It was a good first-round performance and a first game performance by them.
The Italians probably impressed me the most.
We knew they were coming into this tournament with form, 27 games unbeaten under Roberto Mancini. They found a way after a very difficult 0-0 first half.
They showed that they’ve got the quality, the industry and the guile to break teams down, and that’s what they did. They ran out easy winners in the end. The Turks got a bit tired. After the first goal, the own goal, I think the body language showed that the Turks came for the draw. The Italians went for the throat, and the fact that they haven’t scored more than two in a Euros shows that this time they mean business.
It’s good to see them back in a major tournament. The Azzurri have been missed. It was a good performance by the Italians, and they’re still my team to watch.
Jason’s message ahead of the Vanarama National League Final
Coming into a play-off final is massive. It’s about holding your nerve.
You play all season to try and get promoted to bring success, and then the game comes down to 90 minutes and maybe extra time.
Sometimes the games are tight, sometimes they’re more open, but it’s the team that embraces the occasion, the team that not necessarily wants it the most, but can handle the game’s emotion; form can go out of the window.
I’ve played in a couple of play-off games. Probably the big one was Bolton Wanderers vs Reading for me. We were 2-0 down, and Reading missed a penalty to go 3-0. At 2-0, we threw everything at it because we had nothing to lose. In some ways, it was the best thing to happen to us to go a couple of goals down because we rolled our sleeves up, and we came out fighting. We had a real good go of it and ended up winning the game.
So it’s not really about the form of the teams. It’s about who embraces the occasion the best.
Good luck to both of them!
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*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.