Tomorrow will see the start of Euro 2012; for many, the biggest sporting event of the summer.
While it may be true to say that any old team can win the Euro’s; as we remember the spirited Danes of ’92 and the no nonsense Greeks of ’04, I prefer to think of the great footballing teams who have done so, like the magnificent French of the 90’s, the all conquering Spanish team of the past four years and the English team of the…ummm, I digress.
So what of this year? Well certainly the Spanish, German and Dutch teams will start as favourites but there is little doubt that our spectator interest will be well served by the unfancied England and Republic of Ireland teams.
For England this is probably the first tournament in some time that the three lions will not go into battle heralded as Kings in waiting. This English squad, under new boss Roy Hodgson, will be cut some slack by the media should they not conquer all in their first couple of group games, but there will be a clamour for goals and qualification in their final group game against host nation, Ukraine, which will see the return of Wayne Rooney to the side. But before that, the French await on Monday, with the awkward Swedes to follow.
What would we give for a first minute Bryan Robson goal to settle the nerves of an opening fixture against the French? A game unnecessarily complicated by the usual comedic lead up, although perhaps a little less so this time. I think this one has a one all draw written all over it, and you can have the draw at 3.1 with APAT’s Euro 2012 betting partner, Bet-At Home.
The Irish come in as the least fancied of the 16 finalists, their success already achieved through qualification. At first glance Group C will not offer too many soft fixtures, with an opening game against the Modric inspired Croatia followed by matches with seemingly powerful Spanish and Italian teams.
The Irish are priced at 3.75 to beat the Croatians in their opening fixture on Sunday evening. This feels like a value bet to me. Opening group games tend to be tight and the Irish are unbeaten in fourteen games going into the Euros. I don’t expect them to give too much away, but it’s certainly possible that a team fielding the attacking talents of McCready, Duff, Keane and possibly hot new talent James McLean, will have the odd goal in them, so I’m backing Ireland to win their opening fixture, which could then see them playing an unsettled Italian side in the final group game, with qualification a real possibility. Lump on the Irish…I hear the Italians have!
Elsewhere, the Germans, Dutch and Portuguese will have goals in them and if you’re looking for a real outside bet, take a look at the joint hosts Poland and Ukraine. Both long shots, but with home advantage, enormous support and a prevailing wind, either could progress to the final.