With Euro 2012 just days away people will be looking to place their first bets of the tournament and what better place to start than betting on who will win the tournament?
Despite Spain and Germany heading the market as justifiable favourites, there are plenty of causes to oppose the front two and look to the lesser fancied selections. With that in mind this could be the tournament to cash in on some double figure prices come July 1st.
Spain have been the long term favourites to retain their European Championship but the World Cup winners come into this tournament with their fair share of problems, namely the David Villa and Carlos Puyol injuries. Both players were seemingly irreplaceable members of their successful Euro 2008 and World Cup 2012 squads and despite being blessed with a plethora of footballing talent, the Spanish will really feel the loss of these two key men. Puyol is likely to be replaced by Real Madrid hot-head Sergio Ramos in the heart of defence with Alvaro Arbeloa filling in at right back, while up front the goal burden is likely to lie with goal shy Fernando Torres given his experience ahead of Fernando Llorente.
Although it would be foolish to write of Spain with the likes of Xavi, Andreas Iniesta, David Silva, Juan Mata and Cesc Fabregas at their disposal this could be one tournament too far for Spain and the value probably lies elsewhere.
Germany is the name on a lot of peoples lips but there is also reason to oppose them, none more so than the domestic failings of Bayern Munich. A treble chasing season ended trophy-less and this German side is made up of eight of those Bayern players who played the majority of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League matches. A long hard season ended with disappointment and the recent injury concern of Bastian Schweinsteiger illustrates just how fragile a burnt out footballers body can become.
The other major concern for Germany is their defence. Per Mertesacker is one of the slowest central defenders around and with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben to contend with early on and Holger Badstuber is a brut of a player and little more than that. That could leave a huge weight on Mats Hummels, widely regarded as Germany’s best defender. Full back is also a concern with Philipp Lahm confirmed as a starter Joachim Low will have to decide who will be with Jerome Boateng likely to get the gig on the other side. Germany’s tough group is compensated by a favourable draw for the quarter-finals, but the burnout of a long Bundesliga season may just take a toll on this group of players.
With the front two catered for, the value could lie in PORTGUAL (20/1 with Paddy Power). Any team with 60-goal winger Cristiano Ronaldo in should not be priced at 20/1 and the bookmakers are banking on them succumbing to the group of death where Germany, Holland and Denmark lie in wait. We are happy to gamble on Portugal making it out of this group given Holland’s defensive frailties, Germany’s potential over-hype and Denmark’s likelihood to drop points elsewhere. A rough qualifying campaign should not be dwelt on too much, after all their first two disastrous games were under their former boss and since then Portugal have only blipped once, that being a 2-1 loss in Denmark that ultimately forced the Iberian’s to qualify through the play-offs, a feat achieved emphatically with a 6-2 away win to a positive and exciting young Bosnia side.
Since then two 0-0 draws and a 3-1 loss to Turkey has installed little confidence in the selection but if we are taking friendlies to mean anything then Germany don’t stand a chance after a 5-3 loss to Switzerland, Italy’s 3-0 defeat to Russia means they should not even bother travelling and Holland’s 2-1 defeat to Bulgaria makes them one of the worst bets in European Championship history, on the flip side England have their name on the trophy after two wins and no goals conceded under Roy Hodgson.
Of course, this is all largely irrelevant and the real work beings on Friday so read into friendly matches however you wish, they mean almost nothing.
Portugal backers will be banking on them getting out of their group but history is on our side. They have reached at least the quarter finals in the last four European Championships and Cristiano Ronaldo’s seven goals in eight qualifying matches indicated manager Paulo Bento has finally found a way to get the best out of him in a Portugal shirt. At the World Cup two years ago Portugal only conceded one goal (a 1-0 loss to eventual winners Spain) and Pepe and Bruno Alves will be one of the most feared partnerships at this year’s Championships given their unforgiving and sometimes reckless style of defensive work.
On paper, Portugal’s first XI looks capable of going far in this tournament but their lack of a world class centre-forward and any real squad depth, coupled with their horrendous group means the bookmakers can justify a big price. Having said all this, Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani are enough to strike fear into any defence and strong defensive cover provided by the impressive Miguel Veloso in front of the back four will allow marauding full backs Joao Pereira and Fabio Coentrao to support Ronaldo and Nani. Raul Merieles and Joao Moutino will be the midfield engine room and Moutino’s creative ability will be an important linchpin to their success. A good record against strong attacking sides means Portugal can escape the group of death and pick up a favourable quarter final draw, putting them in pole position for a semi-final berth, then who knows!
Euro 2012 Betting Tip
Back Portugal EW (first 2, 1/2 odds) – 20/1 with Paddy Power.