With only 1 week until the start of Euro 2016, it’s about time we take a closer look at some of the teams in the tournament.
Who are the favourites? Which team is a ‘Dark Horse’ worth a punt? Who out of all the competition’s debutants could spring a surprise?
Below I’ve selected some teams who I believe will have a successful tournament and I’ve also found some value across various different markets, including Top Goalscorer, Outright Winner and Group Winner.
In addition, I’ve given my thoughts regarding the question on everybody’s lips – what are England’s chances in the tournament?
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Euro 2016: Favourites
Manager: Didier Deschamps
Key Player: Paul Pogba (Juventus)
Outright Winner Odds: 4.00 with Bet365
The hosts are the favourites to win this year’s tournament and is it any surprise with the list of talented players they possess? Leading up to the Euros, France have won 8 of their last 9 games (slipped up against England), a run which included victories over Spain, Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands.
Anthony Martial, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud lead the French attack, with Paul Pogba being the main creator of play. Blaise Matuidi’s talent in central midfield is unquestionable, whilst the recent additions to the French squad of Dimitri Payet and N’Golo Kanté add more versatility. Payet’s set-piece skills are likely to come in useful and Kanté’s all round-work rate and ability to pick out a key pass adds a further dimension to this already talented French team.
France’s range of attacking options is exemplified by the fact that their 17 goals scored in 2015 came from 11 different players. Griezmann provides their biggest attacking threat and with his 22 league goals scored for Atletico this season, there is no doubt he knows how to find the back of the net. Oliver Giroud is likely to play centrally however and having scored in their recent friendly victory over Cameroon (3-2), he could well be the main goal provider.
France’s chances of doing well in the tournament have also been bolstered by their easier group, which consists of Romania, Albania and Switzerland and they are as short as 1.3 to Win the Group with 888 Sport. The safe hands of Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will no doubt help the French, although defensively is where I believe France will come unstuck.
The hosts have been massively hit by injuries with the likes of Raphaël Varane, Jérémy Mathieu and Aymeric Laporte just to name a few, unable to take part in the tournament. The latest member of the clan to fall injured is Lassana Diarra, with Man Utd’s Morgan Schneiderlin stepping in for the injured midfielder, despite failing to impress with the Red Devils this season. Laurent Koscielny, Bacary Sagna and Patrice Evra are highly experienced but do they have what it takes to cope with some of the best young attacking talent in Europe? The French defence has conceded 6 goals in the last 3 friendly matches and to me this illustrates their vulnerability at the back.
The absence of Karim Benzema (blackmail case) and Mamadou Sakho (drugs) has further weakened the French squad and taking all this into account, I think their price to win the tournament is too short. Their vast array of attacking talent is unquestionable, but I don’t think their 4.00 price fully accounts for their long casualty list. France have a good chance of making the semi-finals as if things go to plan and they win their group, this could well be the 1st time in the competition that they meet a top opponent, but I think this is where their journey will end.
Recommended Bet: Oliver Giroud Top Goalscorer @ 17.00 with Betfair
Manager: Joachim Löw
Key Player: Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)
Outright Winner Odds: 5.00 with 888 Sport
2014 World Cup winners Germany are always worth a punt and look a decent price too. Having won Group D, arguably the toughest of all the groups, Löw’s side are in with a good chance of winning the tournament, albeit with a different looking squad to past years.
Germany finished their qualification with 7 wins under their belt, only losing to Poland (2-0) and the Republic of Ireland (1-0), although their defeat to Poland marked the end of a 33 match unbeaten run in tournament qualifiers, extending back to 2007.
Germany’s strength lies in midfield, with Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Mario Gotze, Julian Draxler and Bastian Schweinsteiger amongst those fighting for a place in the starting line-up. Thomas Muller is certain to start after his impressive qualifying campaign whereby he scored 9 of Germany’s 24 goals. Only his Bayern Munich team mate Robert Lewandowski (Poland) netted more goals in the qualifying stages!
Despite the news that Marco Reus will miss the tournament through injury, as you can see Germany have more than enough in the tank to leave a mark on this tournament. Mario Gomez heads the attack after having a great season on-loan at Turkish club Beşiktaş where he scored 26 league goals.
Matt Hummels and Jerome Boateng also give them some solidity at the back and when teams do manage to break down the German defence, they’ll still have to get past Manuel Neuer in goal – never an easy task!
Germany’s Group consists of Northern Ireland, Poland and Ukraine and I’d back the Germans to finish in poll position, providing they avoid another slip-up against Poland.
Under boss Joachim Löw, Germany were runners-up in 2008 and semi-finalists in 2012 and I have a feeling 2016 could be their year.
Recommended Bet: Germany to Win Euro 2016 @ 5.00 with 888 Sport
Euro 2016: Value Dark Horse
Manager: Marcel Koller
Key Player: David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
Outright Winner Odds: 41.00 with BetVictor
This group of players are by far the best set of Austrians we have seen for a while and despite lacking experience in major tournaments, they’re in with a chance of doing well. Koller’s men went through qualifying unbeaten and particularly impressed away from home. After starting off their campaign slowly with a 1-1 draw against Sweden, Austria won their next 9 games and showed they are a side to take seriously in this competition.
Austria finished 8 points clear of 2nd placed Russia and 10 points clear of 3rd placed Sweden, well and truly winning one of the tougher groups of the bunch. In the qualification stages, Koller’s side enjoyed an average of 14.80 shots during a game, with 7.90 shots on target, so expect goals in Austria’s fixtures!
Marc Janko leads the front-line and scored 7 goals during qualification, as well as netting 16 league goals for FC Basel this season. If you fancy Austria to score the most goals in Group F, they can be backed at 2.5 with 188BET. If you think Austria are going to do well in the tournament, you may want to also consider backing Koller’s side to be the highest scoring team overall, which is a nice 41.00 with Bet365.
Bayern Munich’s David Alaba flourishes in the midfield creative role, although he recently scored an embarrassing own goal against Malta in a friendly, when helping out with defensive duties! Putting this to one side however, at the tender age of 23, there is no doubt he is talented and will play a pivotal role in Austria’s campaign.
Marko Arnautovic is another useful addition to the Austrian squad and scored 11 Premier League goals for Stoke this season. Christian Fuchs (Leicester City) and Aleksandar Dragović (Dynamo Kyiv) are also solid in defence and so if Austria play with the same menace as they did in the qualifying stages, they have a great chance of making it all the way in this competition.
First things first, Portugal, Iceland and Hungary stand in their way and although beating the Portuguese is evidently their toughest test, I believe Austria are more than capable and I would back them to top Group F.
For the more daring punters, backing Austria to make the semi-finals also looks a good shout and is a tasty 6.5 with 188BET.
Reccommended Bet: Austria to Top Group F @ 3.2 with Betfair
Euro 2016: Debutant Worth a Punt
Manager: Ján Kozák
Key Player: Marek Hamšík (Napoli)
Outright Winner Odds: 151.00 with Bet365
Slovakia are making their debut in this tournament after an impressive qualifying campaign which saw them finish 2nd in Group C, 5 points behind Spain. During qualification, Kozák’s men won their 1st 6 games, which included victory against Ukraine (1-0), as well as a shock win over reigning European Champions Spain (2-1).
Towards the end of the qualifying stages however, Slovakia began to stumble and Spain got their revenge in the reverse fixture, in a game which ended in a 2-0 defeat for the away side. Slovakia then lost at home to Belarus, although they won against Luxembourg (4-2) in their final game which enabled them to qualify.
Above there is enough evidence to suggest that the Slovaks should not be ruled out of this competition, after all Slovakia did become the 1st team to beat Spain in a qualifying match for 8 years.
In addition, they face England, Wales and Russia in Group B and are very much capable of finishing in the top 2. For those of you who aren’t keen on a top 2 finish, there is also value when backing them to finish 3rd in the group, which is priced at 3.1 with Betfair.
Slovakia are certainly capable of beating Wales and Russia and could even cause England a scare, if Hodgson’s men aren’t careful. Marek Hamšík is the play-maker and he will be crucial to Slovakia’s success in the tournament, having scored 5 goals in qualification, as well as having had an outstanding season with Napoli.
The Slovaks tend to fly out of the blocks, scoring the opening goal on 7 occasions during qualification and winning on each of those occasions. Once Kozák’s side take the lead, they are a real threat to other teams, although if they fail to get the 1st goal they struggle and failed to score when not breaking the deadlock in qualification.
The threat this Slovakia team possess has not gone unnoticed and as a result they have moved from 60th in the FIFA World Rankings to 14th in the past year alone.
If Slovakia do finish 2nd in Group B, they will play the runner-up of Group F in the Round of 16 which consists of Austria, Hungary, Iceland and Portugal, all of which they are capable of beating. With everybody expecting England to top the group, it looks like Slovakia will be fighting it out with Wales and Russia for 2nd spot.
If Slovakia do manage to finish in 2nd, I can see them winning an easier Round of 16 tie to put them into the quarter-finals and as a result, I think they are worth a punt.
What are England’s Chances?
Manager: Roy Hodgson
Key Player: Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Outright Winner Odds: 10.00 with Unibet
There is a positive vibe about England’s chances this year and Hodgson’s men are the 4th favourites to clinch the trophy. With the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and John Terry now out of the picture, there are several new faces in this England side and many bright young prospects.
20 year-old Dele Alli is the main creative spark in the team and although he is a talent, the rest of the midfield with the likes of James Milner and Adam Lallana is rather weak. Wayne Rooney adds some experience to a relatively youthful side and Hodgson will be hoping that his captain will bring some quality to the field, despite not having the best of seasons with Man United.
Harry Kane had another successful campaign with Spurs and won the Premier League Golden Boot for his 25 league goals. It’s not often that 2 Englishman finish 1st and 2nd Premier League top goalscorers, with Leicester’s Jamie Vardy only 1 goal behind Kane, so surely England have the strongest attacking line-up they’ve had in years.
England sailed through qualification with the only 100% record, winning all 10 of their games, although they did have one of the easiest groups, with only games against Switzerland and Slovenia being the more challenging fixtures.
Many are expecting England’s route to the knock-out stages to be easy, but Hodgson’s side never fail to make us sweat and I expect this year to be no different! As you’ve read above, beating Slovakia is not going to be easy and nor will be the game against our UK-counterparts Wales, especially will Gareth Bale up top, who will no doubt find a way through our shaky defence.
I am far from convinced that our back-line with Chris Smalling and Gary Cahil looks solid and we conceded in both friendlies against Turkey and Australia. The Three Lions may well have conceded against Portugal too, had they not gone down to 10 men as a result of a horrendous challenge by Bruno Alves on Harry Kane early on in the match.
If you’re tipping England to remain in this tournament for a while, you can back Harry Kane top goalscorer at 15.00 with Bet Victor and let’s face it, he never turns down the chance to shoot!
Yes, there have been glimpses of brilliance from the new face of this England side, such as their emphatic 3-2 win over Germany in a friendly back in March, but they don’t perform to that level on a consistent basis and therefore in my eyes I can’t see them winning the tournament.
If England win their group, they will be lucky enough to get a kind draw in the Round of 16 and I can therefore see them making the quarter-finals, where they are likely to meet either Portugal or Italy. However, I expect that this is where England’s tournament will end, as the 3 Lions rarely produce on the big stage and I expect history to repeat itself again.
Recommended Bet: England to be Eliminated in the Quarter-Finals @ 3.75 with Betfair
Prices correct at time of writing.