Spain v Russia: Champions dead certs to start with win

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Russia’s frail hopes of progression from Group B have been dealt a crushing blow by a prominent trend ahead of their clash with Spain.

After holding court with the King of Stats, it became clear that the 11/2-rated Russians must overcome a run of the side considered the home team in the opening Group B fixture (which is Spain in this instance) have prevailed by a 2-1 scoreline in four of the past five renewals of the Under-21 Championship.

A price of 7/1 is available that history repeats itself once more and the defending champions kick-off their trophy-retention mission with a 2-1 win.

The Russians have enlisted the services of one of the stars of their senior side’s disappointing Euro 2012 campaign, but even Alan Dzagoev’s talent and experience is likely to yield any joy for their junior team in Israel.

They failed to win four of their 10 qualifying games and were unconvincing in their play-off with the Czech Republic, progressing on the back of a 2-0 first leg victory after a hairy 2-2 draw in the second.

As exemplified in England’s defeat at the hands of Italy in Group A, the step up in class from qualifiers to the main event is enormous and, despite these results looking pretty steady, Spain are of a different ilk to that of any opposition they’ve faced to date.

The nations have locked horns three times at this level and, unsurprisingly, the Spanish have prevailed on each occasion. The way they breezed through the qualifiers says everything about the class they possess.

Of the 10 games they played they picked up nine wins and a draw, scoring 35 goals in response to the measly three they shipped and, when play-off time came around, they made a mockery of Denmark by winning 8-1 over two legs.

Their 1/2 favouritism should appeal to all those who wish they had access to a money-printing device.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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