With the big Euro 2016 tournament starting on Saturday morning we’ve got our resident round-ball expert Jon Roberts on the podcast.

Jon has a very strong record over the last 2 years (11% Profit on Turnover overall) including some big results in the big tournaments.

Punting Insights You’ll Find
– Why a different approach is required for Euro 2016
– How ELO rankings and other analysis tools can be used
– His assessments of the top 8 teams
– Some solid betting tips for the opening games of the Group stage

Today’s Guest

Jon Roberts – Soccer Advisor

The full transcript is below.

You can also download a comprehensive Euro 2016 pdf preview here.

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Podcast Transcript

Dave Duffield: G’day Jon, and welcome back to the show.

Jon Roberts: Thanks Dave. Thanks for having me again.

Dave Duffield: Yeah, I’ll bet you’re pretty excited with the Euros about to kick off.

Jon Roberts: I’m like a kid just before Christmas. Can’t wait.

Dave Duffield: Good to hear. How do you do the form for a tournament like this, it’s obviously different to a regular season. How do you actually line up the teams?

Jon Roberts: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. It really is a different kettle of fish. It’s not the same form lines and trend lines, even qualifying stats are probably six to nine months out of date. So you have to look at a number of different factors in terms of their trends. You look at the style of their play. What kind of approach, what kind of formation are they going to line up in? What kind of stats have they got across corners and shots? Recent friendly performances as well. Rankings also do come into play on it. Particularly the ELO rankings rather than FIFA rankings. They’re not the concrete way to judge these things, but it is worth considering when matching up some of the sides.

Really, on the other side of it, it’s actually going against a lot of the sentiment and populist votes. It’s even more so heightened this year after Leicester took out the EPL. I think everyone’s looking for which side of the Euros is going to be the Leicesster effect. It’s really had a knock on effect from a lot of the outrights prior to some of the bigger teams.

If you look at Wales, for example, it’s the first time they’ve qualified for a tournament since ’54. Yes, they do have the world’s most expensive player in Bale in their side, but I think they’ve lost something like five out of six of their games since they qualified for the tournament. They’re in to 80 to 1, which I just can’t have them at those odds. That will also translate into the matchups various … It’s really looking at different value and what’s going into the price, whether it’s based on stats and trends or whether it’s based on mood and feeling.

Dave Duffield: You mentioned the ELO rankings. How are they different to the traditional or the wildly publicised world rankings?

Jon Roberts: Yeah, so the ELO rankings take more into effect actually some of the core match statistics as well, so not just the end result. They’ll look at how many goals were scored, what was the winning margin, and each side will basically give up a certain portion of their ranking points for the match. They will either all go to the winner or separate portions will go to either side depending on the results and goals and shots, etc.

Interesting that I can’t remember the stats, but I did read something on the Pinnacle blog recently about comparing the FIFA rankings against ELO and ELO was a lot more accurate than FIFA.

Dave Duffield: So we’ll talk about some of the teams, then, as we chat right now France head it up at around $4.20.

Jon Roberts: Yeah, I think it’s probably a little short on France now, in terms of the odds, but they’re certainly a real live contender going into this one. Obviously they’ve got the home factor behind them. The last two times they’ve hosted a major tournament, back in ’98 and ’84, they did win the tournament. They’re full of attacking intent and threat. They’ve got a really solid goalkeeper. Their midfield is excellent with people like Pogba. Their only real doubt about that side is the defensive side, particularly around the center halves. They’ve lost three of four of their first choice centre halves going into this, so it’s a bit of an unknown. They’re certainly a team that can go very far up into the tournament and one of the teams I would like to have on our side going into it.

Dave Duffield: So you’d like to have them on side, but at the same time, they’re not at a price that you’d actually be backing them?

Jon Roberts: At the moment they’re a saver bet for me, but I would … I’ll talk about the opening matches. I think actually you’ll find there will be a slightly better price on France after the opening game on Friday, if it goes the way I’m thinking it will.

Dave Duffield: Okay. Germany is next in the market around $5.50.

Jon Roberts: Yeah, again very much have to be one of the top contenders going into this. Obviously they won the World Cup a couple years back. The only doubts on them going into this is they’ve struggled to replace Klose up front and Lahm, their former captain and fullback. They lost a couple of times in qualifying, once I think to Ukraine and once to the Republic of Ireland. They recently got turned over in a friendly against Slovakia, and of course back in March, but they’re very experienced going into major tournaments. It’s very rare you don’t see the German side at least get to the Semi-finals, and again it’s worth considering them.

Dave Duffield: The Spaniards are at $6.

Jon Roberts: Yeah. I’m generally going against the populist vote on the Spaniards. I just can’t see them doing too much into this one. I’m much preferred to take the form lines from the 2014 World Cup when they crashed out at the group stage, but they do have to be respected in that they have won the last two editions of the Europeans back in 2012 and 2008. They were on an 11 game unbeaten run, but interestingly lost 1-0 this morning to Georgia, the same Georgia that Romania beat 5-1 a few days ago. I think there are still questions marks on them. They’re a solid team, a good team, but I don’t see them as winners.

Dave Duffield: They’re at six dollars right now. What price would you have them at approximately?

Jon Roberts: Probably closer to about seven to eight I think would be a fairer price for them, but I still …

Dave Duffield: So not dramatically different.

Jon Roberts: No, I think the pricing is not far off. It’s just not a team, irrespectively I would … For me to be backing them I’d probably want them close to England’s odds, around about nines to tens.

Dave Duffield: All right. The Poms are at$ 9.50, ten bucks.

Jon Roberts: The good old English. It’s been a popular little route to go. It’s been downplaying England in recent tournaments after the over hype in many tournaments in years gone by. Actually this year I think it’s an interesting team. I couldn’t go out and say we as the English will win it. It’s a young team. There’s a lot of energy and quality certainly in the up front positions, so they’re a decent outsider. It’s probably the first time in at least a decade that they actually have a chance of at least making the final.

Dave Duffield: I know we joke about it, but how hard is it to keep any emotion out of it when you’re assessing teams and who you want to be betting?

Jon Roberts: Yeah, like I said, I find it actually easier with the international sides, because I’m half-English, half-Welsh. I can sort of play it both ways. I actually have made plenty of money down the years opposing England, because you usually find the odds contract so much. That kind of weights the emotional element, and it comes down to cold hard profit. But on this occasion, sitting where they are, nine and a half to tens, it’s about right on their chances.

Dave Duffield: Belgium are anywhere from 10 to 12 dollars at the moment.

Jon Roberts: Yeah, I don’t see Belgium as winners. They’re a team full of recognised names and talented players at the moment but don’t, in my opinion, seem to amount to the sum of their parts when they come together at the international level. They’re probably what I would describe the English side of the late 90s, early 2000s, that golden generation that offers a lot, but I don’t see them as winners going into this tournament. They certainly should be getting to the quarterfinals, but I’d imagine that would be where they exit, similar to the World Cup a couple of years ago.

Dave Duffield: Okay. Portugal at $18, $19?

Jon Roberts: Yeah, it’s not a vintage Portugal side. I think if you took Ronaldo out of that team, you’d probably see them more closer to their Croatia or Austria odds, but I think they’ll be hard to beat. There’s a few young players coming in. I forget the chap’s name, but he just signed for Bayern Munich. There’s a couple of younger players, but I think it’s just too early a tournament. It’s probably Reynaldo’s last chance to really shine at a major tournament, so it all hinges on how he performs and how many goals he can get for them.

Dave Duffield: So they’re the only teams that are under 20 bucks. Are there any teams we haven’t mentioned? There’s quite a few in terms of numbers, but how many of those are realistic winning chances or of even making the finals?

Jon Roberts: The one I would say that we should certainly include is the Italian side as well. Depending on where you look, their odds are similar to Portugal’s, so that can be anywhere from 17 to about 20. Again it’s not a vintage Italian side, but they are managed by a former U of A and soon to be Chelsea manager, Conte. They’ve done pretty well in the friendlies. They’re a typical Italian side. They don’t concede many. They’re a pretty tight team. They don’t have del Pierro’s of years gone by, but they’re like Germany. When they get going in a major tournament, and things start to jump, you can never rule them out. I think there’s a little bit of value in them around that price.

Dave Duffield: Is there any team amongst Croatia, Austria, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey, any of those you think are a realistic winning chance?

Jon Roberts: Realistic winning chances, I think it’s going to come from the teams we’ve come from. That being said, Turkey made the semi-finals in 2008. Greece won it in 2004. Denmark won it in ’92. Certainly more than the World Cups shocks can happen, and if I was looking further down the list, the teams I would certainly be paying a bit more attention to would be Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and potentially Czech Republic, Slovakia. I don’t see them as winners, but they could certainly get to quarters. If they get a nice bit of luck they may fall into the semis. I think it’s central to eastern European teams are worth a closer look.

Dave Duffield: Are there any futures bets that stand out? Maybe not necessarily team-based, but whether it’s getting out of their group or you’re talking about the goal scoring, any of that?

Jon Roberts: I think there’s a couple of longer odds, goal scorer bets, I certainly think are worth a second look. Wayne Rooney is probably a standout one from the English side. If you’re assuming that they’re going to go well, and they’re going to go into the tournament, I think it’s pretty clear from Hodgson’s opinion that Rooney is still going to be the captain, still going to start every game. It’s not very often you see England’s, or any national team’s top scorer at a 40/1 to be top goal scorer. He still takes the penalties for England, yes you have Vardy and Kane in the team, but a few goals from Rooney and a couple of penalties could put him right in the mix. At 40 to 1, I’d be having a little interest in that.

Similarly, to your earlier point about which surprise teams could go further into the tournament, I think if you say that about Russia, an outsider dark horse over there. They’re hosting the World Cup in 2018. Since Capello has moved on they’ve been in a great form, very hard to beat. Most of their goals come through, Dzyuba. He got eight in qualifying, so again I think he’ll be central to their performance. If they do get a good run to the quarters or semis, you can expect most of the goals come from him, and at an 80 to 1 he’s probably worth a small interest as a long shot in the scoring markets.

Dave Duffield: So to kick it off at 5:00am Saturday morning our time France is hosting the first game against Romania. Is there anything in the first game that stands out?

Jon Roberts: Yeah, there is, Dave. I think the first thing that’s a really interesting statistic going into this is there has only been one host who has won the opening game of a Euro tournament in the last eight, and that was actually France. They were host way back in 1984, and they did go on to win that tournament. Also, five of the last seven opening matches have ended in a 1-1 draw. Most recently, 2012, Poland against Greece.

Then if you look at France’s opponent, Romania, on the opening night, the qualifying, they only conceded two goals in those ten games. They’ve drawn with Italy and Spain in the last nine months, and most recently beat Georgia 5-1, who like I said earlier, Spain lost to tonight. I would be going too hard, put it that way, on France to win the opening game on $1.33. I think this will be a match to be looking at playing the Asian handicaps I think, keeping Romania at the win or draw on side or even maybe a goal head start to France could prove value based on these stats, but I certainly wouldn’t be backing that at $1.33.

Dave Duffield: Albania, Switzerland is a bit of a lower profile match also on Day 1. What about Day 2? England play Russia and that’s probably going to be a pretty big game.

Jon Roberts: Yeah, I think so, and I think that will go a long way in deciding who takes that group. I see those two as the most likely contenders going through. I think England should win that, and obviously I’m hoping that they do. I think if England can get off to a good start, that really makes the tens on England to go deep into the tournament quite attractive, because if England can top that group, I think they play the third place finisher in group C or D, which could be anyone.

You would think, then, that would pretty much guarantee their route to the quarterfinals, then anything could happen. I think it’s a big game, more than just an opening game, it’s an opportunity to set intent. Not sure at this stage what I would do from a betting angle, but I’m certainly going to be cheering on England in that game.

Dave Duffield: Looks a pretty even day, because Wales and Slovakia are pretty evenly matched and there’s not that much between Turkey and Croatia.

Jon Roberts: Yeah I think from the Wales game, as I alluded to earlier, and I think I can get away with saying this, because I’m half-Welsh, but I think their achievement is making it to the tournament. I think everyone is assuming that now that they’re there, they’re going to make a big run at the tournament. I actually think at the moment there’s value in them not qualifying from that group or even finishing bottom and losing all their games. I hope they prove me wrong, because I will be cheering them on. Slovakia just came off a good win against Germany, albeit in a friendly. They’re pretty strong going forward, so I’d actually probably be siding with the Slovaks for that game.

Dave Duffield: And so in a situation like that, do you oppose them game by game or do you take a position on them not getting out of the group earlier on?

Jon Roberts: For me, I’ve taken an initial position not to qualify. I think that’s the value. I think depending on as the odds go by, if my calculations still stand as value in the match market, then I may do something there as well. I have a feeling, I think the first game will tell a lot. If they lose that first game, I could see them potentially losing all three.

On that point, I think it’s worse just from a general betting observation that this European championship is different to any that’s gone by. We’re up to 24 teams from 16. That means that that I think there’s four of the third best place finishes who will qualify from the group, so there’s only actually eight teams going out in the first round. It’s very possible for both sides to lose their first two games and really just go for it in the last game and win that game and potentially still sneak through to the next round. I think those last round matches in the group will be very interesting. There will probably be some good value in some of the odds if it seems they don’t do too well in their first two games and then come out and put on a performance, but I also think it’s going to drive us towards a higher and higher number of goals in the group stage than we’ve seen in previous tournaments. All the things I would consider when assessing game by game.

Dave Duffield: Are there any other game ones from the first round that stand out?

Jon Roberts: I think Germany against Ukraine. I think Ukraine, probably another dark horse in this tournament, and I’d be interested to see which German side turns up, whether it’s the one that got turned over by Slovakia the other week or the one that qualified. There’s probably value in that price.

Similar with the Czech Republic, who did very well in qualifying although they’ve got a pretty leaky defense. Again, they could potentially nick one against Spain in that game, so it certainly pays not to assume all the favourites and the big nations will win, certainly in the opening fixtures. Generally going into tournaments, the first four or five games tend to be quite low-scoring, so again I’d probably keep that in mind. Now we’ll have like 4-3 or 3-3 thrillers now I’m sure, now that I’ve said that.

Dave Duffield: Day by day, how much action will you be having betting wise, and obviously for the members of the Soccer Advisor service?

Jon Roberts: Yeah we’ll be looking at every match for the tournament. We won’t necessarily have a bet in each match, but we’ll do an overview and a review and sort of indicate where we think, which way a match is going to go. If we have an interest in that, that will be clearly stated. I think we’ll probably be looking at, as an average, one or two bets per day through the tournament, but there will be some days that we won’t have any.

Dave Duffield: Good stuff. Well, thanks for joining us today. Plenty to look forward to, like you said, you’re like a kid at Christmas and I’m sure a lot of the members are as well. Some early starts but some really good games coming up. Thanks for joining us today, and good luck with the tournament.

Jon Roberts: Thanks very much, Dave.