Less than a week away from the kick-off of Euro 2012 in Poland & Ukraine and from a purely betting point of view there’s one stand-out team we should be cheering against. Unfortunately the biggest loser on our book is also the team most of the people in this office want to win.
Thanks to Ireland’s crazy price of 80/1 in Paddy Power’s Euro 2012 Outright betting market, they don’t have to be the most backed side to be the biggest loser for us. The payout on Ireland will be more than twice that of the next biggest loser, despite the fact that they are only the 7th most backed team. Although this may not be the strongest group of individuals Ireland has ever had, Giovanni Trapattoni is the crucial ingredient. If he gets the tactics right and his players do as they’re told, then Ireland could make it out of the group. And anything can happen in the knock-out rounds.
Italy are less fancied than Ireland in the number of bets taken and seem to offer little value at 12/1. The most recent match-fixing scandal will have rocked their preparations and should undermine their morale. Some pundits have pointed towards the scandals which preceded Italy’s 1982 and 2006 World Cup wins but this is a near annual occurrence in Serie A. This is not a strong Italian side but recent events could help to gel the squad.
Surprisingly the 2nd biggest loser for Paddy Power is France at 11/1. Laurent Blanc’s side have received very little press attention in the build-up, due in large part to their farcical 2010 World Cup tournament. But clearly there is a feeling that Blanc has built a side which is capable of making a more positive impact at Euro 2012. It may be one tournament too early in the rebuilding process. A semi-final appearance would be good result.
The most popular team is Germany who are second in the betting at 3/1. A certain amount of this will be people blinding backing them because of the short-price, as will happen in every betting market, but they are considered one of the top dogs for a reason. For starters they are German, which gives them an intrinsic advantage in international tournaments. We could analyse the reasoning behind this further but probably not without rehashing a number of borderline racist stereotypes.
The main reason they’re so favoured is because they have an excellent squad, full of experienced players who play at the top clubs in Europe. They also have a manager who remains somewhat under-rated. Anyone who attributes Germany’s run to the semi-final in the 2006 World Cup to the managerial genius of Jurgen Klinsmann, may struggle to outwit Paul Merson.
A bright outlook for the men in orange?
The second most popular side in the betting are the in-fighting Dutch. The men in orange invariably have a squad packed with talent but due to the independent and opinionated nature of the Dutch people, the sum of their parts is often greater than the whole they combine to create. If the team-spirit is there then a team which contains players like Wesley Sneijder, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben could prove a cracking bet at 7/1. They did come second in the 2010 World Cup, which is kind of a big deal.
Unusually the defending champions aren’t being as heavily backed as would be expected. Spain without the injured David Villa is a greatly lessened force and while his absence may not be the reason punters are shying away from Spain, it should be. No team has ever won three major international tournaments in-a-row and the feeling is that this side may be running out of legs a little. Their price of 13/5 looks a little short but then they are the defending champions.
Let’s wrap things with England. The lack of hysterical optimism may be exactly what England need. Roy Hodgson is about as unglamorous as managers get but he is experienced in international football and with fewer expectations on him he may enjoy the freedom needed to excel. The squad has been weakened by a number of injuries but he has enough talent at his disposal to put a very competitive team together. At 12/1, England could deliver when least expected.