If you plan a betting assault on the bookies then read our Euro 2012 tips and preview first. Here we take a gander at the main European Championship teams and weigh up their chances, with one eye on the odds at all times.
England: Let us get this bit out of the way immediately, and we want to be proved wrong, but there is no way England is good enough to win Euro 2012. If you think otherwise you are surely a deluded patriot. England has been the bookies best friend since, well, 1966. They have underachieved consistently for years, but the bookmakers still fill their boots with misplaced patriotic support. Nothing has changed. England just does not have the class, talent or ability on the pitch to beat the best that Europe has to offer.
In fact we do not believe England is capable of beating any one of the six teams that follow in this tournament preview. Do not kid yourself that Chelsea’s success in Europe means anything for England’s chances. This is a feeble and dubious link that some people are making. Unfortunately the Chelsea team are not the England team and they never can be on the basis that at their heart and soul is a troupe of very talented foreign players! Did an England team really beat a German team on penalties? No. A solid international team that happens to be based out of the UK did.
If the England squad was owned by a Russian billionaire, managed by an Italian (and the FA blew our chances of that) and full of foreign players then there may be some parallels to be drawn. So the idea that somehow Chelsea’s success can inspire the national team is another form of the aforementioned blind delusion. It demonstrates the fragile straws that some people are clutching when there is no world class talent on or off the bench to point to.
The Fabio Capello resignation debacle has meant Roy Hodgson taking over the poison chalice at the eleventh hour. Add to that the late loss of two of England’s three best players in Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry and England look jinxed.
Then in the insipid friendly game against Belgium Gary Cahill ruled himself out of calculations by picking up a double-fracture of his jaw. Rio Ferdinand was ignored for a second time by Hodgson, who instead called up Liverpool’s Martin Kelly as Cahill’s replacement. Ferdinand aired his frustration on Twitter while the new England manager appears to have a love affair with players from the under-performing Anfield side. It is apparent Ferdinand has been excluded specifically because of his issues relating to John Terry and certainly not for ‘purely footballing reasons’ as Hodgson has weakly claimed. As if that was not enough the most crucial player, Wayne Rooney, misses the first two Group D games against France and Sweden. By the time he returns for the final match against Ukraine it may be too late.
It really could prove a major hurdle to qualify for the for the knock-out stages. France are in form, Sweden are disciplined and Ukraine have vital home advantage in a part of the world where it might just count for plenty. England looked moderate in their last warm-up game prior to the tournament starting, the 1-0 victory over lowly Belgium. If you want to have a bet on England for the European Championships then take the 14/1 with Bet365, but our tip is not to bother.
Spain: They won the World Cup and they are not a worse team now, though Torres has lost his form. If they can do it against the globe then a minor European competition might just be taken in their stride. Spain are worthy favourites in the Euro 2012 odds and they are one of our two tips to win the tournament. Their qualification path was unblemished. While Chelsea’s success in the Champions League won’t help England, Barcelona’s defeat in that tournament might just weigh on some of the Spanish players’ minds. They might just begin to think they are human after all.
Certainly Spain did not look imperious in their first group match against Italy, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Fernando Torres came on late as a substitute and missed three clear chances. He still looks woefully out of sorts. If manager Vicente Del Bosque can keep Torres on the bench at all times then they should still be the team to stop.
Germany: They were the surprise package of the World Cup. Who can forget the thrashing they inflicted on a typically limp, lifeless and passion-less England? Since that German rebirth their form has remained in the ascendency and nobody beat them in qualifying. The bookies are taking no chances and if any team can stop the juggernaut that is Spain it may just be the stoic, disciplined Germans. While they won their first Group match against Portugal, they did not impress massively. However we can forgive them that and they hold their position as second favourites.
Holland: Denied only by Spain in the World Cup, Holland were nevertheless a somewhat distant second. In times of trouble they got too over-physical. While they have a huge chance strictly on the form book they look less formidable than Spain or Germany. You can not deny the talent Holland have on show: Van Perse, Robben and Van Der Vaart to name just three but we don’t think it will be enough. In fact they were beaten 1-0 by lowly Denmark in their first Group match of the finals and now they have it all to do to make it to the knock-out stages. They can now be backed at a biggest price of 14/1 to win the tournament. Even that looks far from generous.
France: They may be lacking some of the big names but they seem to have recovered their composure after the disgraceful prima donna antics that saw them humiliated at the World Cup. If they can act as team of footballers rather than spoilt brats then they would have a fair chance. Certainly their form in the run-up to these Euro finals gives them a big shout. Brazil, Germany and England have all been beaten by them of late, albeit in meaningless games. France’s tendency to implode does weigh heavily on concerns. Just like a horse that can’t go through with the effort when it matters most, have talented France found any backbone now?
Italy: Abject failure at the World Cup may pre-empt a much better showing here. They are now very hard to score against. Balotelli may turn into one of their key players, but we know his propensity to shoot himself in the foot. He was quickly substituted in the opening game after it appeared things were not going his way. Italy did themselves no harm with that opening 1-1 draw against favourites Spain and it saw their odds clipped to lift the trophy. Like France, will the discipline hold together?
Russia: The bookmakers were taking no chances after Russia duly despatched the Czech Republic in their opening Group A match. The 4-1 victory impressed plenty of observers and their odds to win the entire competition were slashed from a biggest price of 22/1 to 14/1, but generally 12/1. Certainly any team that can find the net has to be feared and Russia showed it has fire power with three individual players being responsible for the quartet of goals. And that did not include the impressive Andrey Arshavin, who looked to have found his best form too.
Portugal: The main problem for Portugal is that Group B is a kind of Group Of Death. Portugal are a world class team, most particularly because of the highly influential Cristiano Ronaldo. They are up against Holland and Germany in the group stages, so at least one major name will crash out before the knock-out begins. Portugal were favourites to be that team until Holland blew their “easy” game by losing against Denmark. Portugal followed that by losing to Germany, but they had their chances to win. We still believe that Portugal can sneak through in second place behind the Germans.
Verdict: ✔ 3/1 Spain, ✔ 20/1 Portugal, ✘ England at 14/1
Conclusion: This preview attempts to identify the best Euro 2012 tips to bet on. Expect Portugal to survive the nightmare that is Group B and then their odds to win the competition will plummet. They look a touch over-priced at 20/1. Spain are worthy and solid favourites at a best price of 3/1 while Germany have to give their punters a great run for the money. I would swerve both Italy and the resurgent France on grounds of suspect temperament when the pressure is on. Holland lack subtlety and threw away their opening game, while injury-ravaged England are surely hopelessly outclassed. So to the tips – If you want an outsider then we would advise a bet on Portugal at 20/1. Otherwise Spain look very worthy of their position in the market. Frankly the only surprise is that they are not even shorter in the Euro 2012 betting. Spain, as a country, may be going bankrupt but if footballing talent was money they would be the ones bailing out Greece.