Euro 2014, quarter-final, Kiev, Sunday, 7.45pm
I'VE tipped three out of three in the quarter-finals – and hoping to complete the full house on Sunday.
Admittedly, Portugal and Germany were easy to back while Spain were also favourites. However, bookies are finding it difficult to split England and Italy – and so am I.
There is no doubt though about the man who will take centre stage, Mario Balotelli, as he faces up to team-mates such as Joe Hart and Joleon Lescott.
England's midfield enforcer Scott Parker is even shorter at 5-4 at Betfred to be carded and
11-1 at sportingbet to see the first card. Parker is 3-1 favourite with Ladbrokes to be first to foul Parker with his Man City mate Lescott a 4-1 chance.
One thing bookies seem certain of is a lack of goals between two nations who don’t give much away.
It should be a tense nervy affair and a 1-1 draw, 5-1 at Skybet, is the scoreline that leaps out to me. England have only won one of their last nine against Italy and five of those games have featured one goal or less.
Unibet offer odds of 5-4 on under 1.5 goals. Three of six games between the sides in this tournament have finished 1-1 and that scoreline after 90 minutes is generally available at
11-2. Under 2.5 goals pays no better than 1-2 (various).
To win England are a biggest 19-10 at BetVictor while Italy are 19-10with the same firm and a draw 21-10 (various). Both sides are 10-11 to qualify.
To win after extra time you can have either side at 12-1 with William Hill. The match to go to penalties is 9-2 with bet365 but that might not be too dreaded for the English – after all it’s not Germany they’re facing.
Italy don’t have a great shootout record (two out of seven) and if it goes all the way I’d be on Roy Hodgson’s men to win although their record is one out of six.
Both sides to go through via a shoot-out pays 10-1 (various). So I’m tipping England for the third game running – and you can imagine the stick I’m getting for that.
Rooney is first-scorer favourite at 5-1 (various) and 13-10 (unibet) while you can have Balotelli at 13-2 (various) and 2-1 (various) anytime.
Punters up and down the land have been backing Rooney to net with his head after nodding the winner against Ukraine. Ladbrokes have cut the striker from 8-1 to 6-1 to head home.
The match is expected to break bet-in-play records and Ladbrokes predict turnover will be more than £1million after the game has started. If punters take the three lions’ share – as they did thanks to Ronaldo on Thursday – I’ll happily take an England win.
England to win on penalties
Ballotelli to be booked