Euro 2020 odds: Biggest risers, fallers after group stage
The group stage produced some incredible moments, but with 16 of the 24 teams advancing, it at times felt anti-climactic, even insignificant.
That will change as the tournament enters the knockout stage, with the bracket set up in a tantalizing fashion ahead of Saturday's start to the round of 16.
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By winning Group F, France earned a much friendlier last-16 opponent in Switzerland. However, the team is also in the tougher half of the bracket. It should be straightforward to get by the Swiss. But there will be no easy opponents afterward for Les Bleus, who trailed 3.72-2.02 in expected goals against Germany and Portugal despite claiming four points from those matches.
The unquestioned winners of the group stage, Italy scored seven goals without conceding and were dominant in claiming maximum points. The Azzurri's 1.39 expected goals against were the fewest in the group stage, while their 6.89 expected goals for were fourth most. Their half of the bracket is particularly tough, as they'll face Belgium or Portugal in the quarters should they beat Austria, with France or Spain likely on deck in the semis. It's a tough road, but everything we've seen from Italy thus far, plus the return of Marco Verratti, suggests it's more than capable of winning its first Euro since 1968.
Outside of a poor four-minute stretch against Ukraine, the Netherlands looked like world-beaters in Group C. Criticisms of Frank de Boer's 5-3-2 formation were brushed aside as the Dutch became the group stage's highest scorers, with eight goals on 9.2 expected. Their opponents weren't great, but the Oranje are still considerable favorites to make it to the semifinal, as they'll need to beat the Czech Republic and either Denmark or Wales.
One of the group stage's most memorable moments was Denmark's 4-1 thumping of Russia in front of a euphoric crowd in Copenhagen. Being able to celebrate a victory like that after the traumatic Christian Eriksen incident was truly special to the fans and players alike. Lost in it all, understandably, was just how impressive the Danes were in Group B despite claiming just three points.
Denmark dominated Finland under terrible circumstances and was unlucky to lose to Belgium after winning the expected goals battle 2.35-0.98. The Danes posted the fifth-most expected goals for in the group stage and allowed the third fewest. They appear quite undervalued ahead of the knockouts with a very negotiable path to the semis.
England hardly had an impressive start to the tournament despite not yet conceding, scoring just two goals. This feels like the perfect buy low on the Three Lions, though, as their last-16 date with Germany is their biggest hurdle to clear en route to a final. Should they beat the Germans in London, the red carpet will be rolled out for them. Plus, they have the added benefit of both the semifinal and final being played at Wembley.
Spain is an easy fade ahead of the knockout stage. La Roja managed a high of 9.39 expected goals in the group stage, scoring just six, but the lack of a bonafide striker up top is always going to plague them. Finishing second in Group E was also a blow, as their likely path to the final goes through Croatia, France, and either Italy, Belgium, or Portugal. Good luck.
Belgium has some underlying concerns despite winning three times and topping Group B. The Red Devils recorded just 4.09 expected goals - 15 teams generated more - and were vastly outplayed in a 2-1 win over Denmark, with a Kevin De Bruyne moment of genius sparing their blushes. Things are about to get much tougher as they face Portugal in the last 16, with Italy and France likely waiting for them in the following two rounds should they progress.
It's hard to know what to make of Portugal's group stage. The Portuguese required a late slice of luck to break through against Hungary before being trounced by Germany. Then, they needed a pair of penalties and an incredible Rui Patricio save to draw with France. The path to the final is daunting, but it's not harder than what Portugal's already seen in this tournament. This is an incredibly talented squad, and despite the difficulty of the top half of the bracket, the Portuguese might be the best value left on the board.
Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.