IT might not be pretty and on occasions it has been downright ugly and certainly lucky but England will face Italy on Sunday for a place in the Euro 2012 semi-finals and, make no mistake, the Azzurri are no great shakes and this is a game we can win.
England are 8/1 to lift the trophy in Kiev on Sunday week behind 2/1 favourites Germany, 5/2 Spain, 7/1 Portugal and the same price as Sunday’s opponents. Italy are marginal favourites for the quarter-final at 17/10 with us at BetVictor with England 9/5 and the draw which has already been popular at 85/40.
Wayne Rooney is 5/1 to repeat Tuesday’s feat of scoring the opening goal with Mario Balotelli 6/1, although the Manchester City striker is uncertain of his place in the starting 11 despite his cracking volley against Ireland in the final group game.
It has already been a rollercoaster of a ride with England, and I can see a tight, tense affair with England 10/1 to win on penalties, which I can see proving popular given there appears little between the teams.
A 1-1 draw is only 5/1 with a single goal victory to the Three Lions at 6s and a goalless draw at 11/2; there hasn’t been a 0-0 draw in the competition to date and perhaps we are due one?
Portugal are 3/4 to beat a Czech Republic side 9/2 who have improved with every game so far; tomorrow sees 1/3 favourites Germany meet 10/1 outsiders Greece who have done well to reach this stage.
Spain meet France on Saturday and 5/6 for the World and European Champions looks fair enough given Les Bleus lost to Sweden midweek; it will be interesting to see if La Roja persevere with Fernando Torres up front but they seem to be able to do enough without actually being at their best. Having backed Spain at 11/4 I’m surprised they are still available at 4/1 although what a game Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo v Spain would be next week if both qualify for the last four.
England have rested Chris Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann for the third and final ODI at Headingley tomorrow against the West Indies (5/4) and the hosts are 8/13 for a whitewash against a Tourists side who have not played to their potential on this tour. Jonny Bairstow is 8/1 to be top England batsman and the hope is that the weather allows a full day’s play.
The performance of Frankel in the opening Queen Anne Stakes put to bed any thoughts that equine Aussie superstar Black Caviar is in the same class as Sir Henry Cecil’s world-beater but the mare should be good enough to land the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
We are betting quarter odds first five in today’s Britannia Handicap and my two against the field in the 30-runner race are Forest Row and Fast Or Free; Ballydoyle have won five of the last six renewals of the Gold Cup and Fame And Glory should be good enough to retain the crown he won last year.
In the likely absence of stablemate Imperial Monarch Derby third Astrology can confirm Epsom form with Thought Worthy in the King Edward VII Stakes; the selection has winning form on soft ground and ran a cracker in the circumstances at Epsom. Thought Worthy represents the winning team from the corresponding race back in 2011 and this half-brother to St Leger winner Lucarno is the danger but Astrology was 6l ahead in the Derby and can come out on top again.