Round of 16 betting preview: Steer clear of Belgium, Netherlands

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Few things in the beautiful game rival the excitement of tournament-style, knockout football.

Over the next 15 days, we'll be immersed in all the drama it has to offer. That begins with the round of 16, which will see eight mouth-watering matches played over a four-day span.

HOME AWAY
Wales (+425) Draw (+220) Denmark (-120)
Italy (-210) Draw (+320) Austria (+700)
Netherlands (-165) Draw (+290) Czech Republic (+480)
Belgium (+140) Draw (+220) Portugal (+210)
Croatia (+550) Draw (+260) Spain (-155)
France (-195) Draw (+300) Switzerland (+620)
England (+155) Draw (+230) Germany (+190)
Sweden (+140) Draw (+220) Ukraine (+230)

Wales vs. Denmark
June 26, 12 p.m. ET

Having begun the tournament on a traumatic note, Denmark showed incredible resiliency to battle back and reach the knockout stage. The Danes accrued just three points but were terrific through three matches, generating 6.69 expected goals to just 2.53 allowed. They were unlucky to lose to Belgium with an expected-goals margin of 2.35-0.98. Things tend to tighten up in the knockout stage, which suits a stingy Denmark side that's very organized and tough to break down.

Outside of a win over Turkey, Wales were relatively poor in Group A, creating just 1.01 expected goals against Italy and Switzerland to 3.91 allowed. Ethan Ampadu's suspension hurts, while Wales lack both the talent and structure to outlast a very polished Danish outfit.

Pick: Denmark (-120)

Netherlands vs. Czech Republic
June 27, 12 p.m.

The Netherlands coasted through a very friendly Group C schedule. While its path to the semifinal doesn't appear any tougher, it won't be as straightforward. For the first time in this tournament, the Dutch won't be playing at the friendly confines of Amsterdam's Johan Cruyff Arena, as they head to Budapest for this last-16 clash with the Czech Republic.

The Czechs are much more accomplished against UEFA's top sides than Austria or Ukraine, and they're a very frustrating outfit to play against. Patrik Schick's emergence has provided an attacking threat to complement a combative midfield and disciplined backline that proved to be tough to crack versus Belgium, Croatia, and England. Whether the team has enough to pull off the upset remains to be seen, but Frank de Boer's side is going to have to work to earn its place in the quarters.

Pick: Draw (+290)

Belgium vs. Portugal
June 27, 3 p.m.

Despite coasting through the group stage, there were some worrying signs behind Belgium's perfect record. The Red Devils generated just 4.09 expected goals - 16th among all Euro 2020 nations - and were bailed out by a Kevin De Bruyne masterclass in their toughest match against Denmark despite being drastically outplayed. Much has also been made about Belgium's strong form coming into the tournament, but competition in qualifying was hardly fierce.

This will be a tough test against a professional Portugal side with the sort of tournament know-how not yet shown by a Belgium outfit developing a reputation as paper tigers. Fernando Santos' team selection has come under fire in the group stage, but if he gets it right here, Portugal has just as much firepower, with fewer mistakes in defense - and the team comes at a much more attractive price.

Pick: Portugal to advance (+115)

Croatia vs. Spain
June 28, 12 p.m.

Both of these squads somewhat limped into the knockout stage, earning victories in their respective final matches to progress. Although Spain generated 9.39 expected goals in three matches, more than any other side in the group stage, its lack of a reliable option at striker resulted in its profligacy against Sweden and Poland.

Croatia will provide equally stern resistance to the Spanish attack but will struggle to threaten La Roja's defense. The 2018 World Cup finalists were largely impotent in the group stage, relying on individual moments of genius from Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric to break through. They generated just 2.18 expected goals in three matches - only Finland, Hungary, and Slovakia managed fewer - and they now face a Spain side that allowed just 2.8. It could be a case of first goal wins in Copenhagen.

Pick: Under 2.5 (-120)

Sweden vs. Ukraine
June 29, 3 p.m.

With as much talent as Ukraine has, there's little excuse for its group-stage performance. Andriy Shevchenko's side lacks the tactical awareness to be taken seriously. The Ukrainians were outperformed 3.92-0.92 in expected goals in losses against the Netherlands and Austria, earning a spot in the knockout stage thanks to a narrow win over North Macedonia.

Up next is a date with a very professional Sweden side, the sort that's given Ukraine fits over the years. The Swedes are on a similar plane when it comes to talent, but they're a much more cohesive unit. They're structured and united in their approach, and they have the game-breakers up top in Emil Forsberg and Alexander Isak to punish Ukraine's all-too-prevalent lapses in concentration.

Pick: Sweden (+140)

Alex Moretto is theScore's supervising editor of sports betting. Find him on Twitter @alexjmoretto.

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Round of 16 betting preview: Steer clear of Belgium, Netherlands
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