Euro 2012 – Major Outright Markets
As the major European leagues have now come to an end, it is time for us to look ahead to the summer’s action from Poland and Ukraine. Personally, I am a huge fan of tournament football and somehow find even the most horrendous football on show forgiveable as we get to see upwards of two matches every single day. I also generally have an eye for an outsider and always seem to come away from the tournaments in profit, albeit not huge profit every time.
This will be the first of a series of blogs looking at the antepost markets before the tournament gets started in June. As we get very near to the first matches I will be attempting to have a look at every match here, probably on a two days matches at a time basis. For these preliminary blogs this will be the first and will concentrate on the major markets before I delve into each group to search out some of the more interesting options available to punters.
The most obvious market is the Winner market for the entire tournament so we’ll start here. No bookmaker has anyone but Spain as favourites, although some have made Germany joint favourites. To be quite honest I can’t see any other country having as strong a case as these two. It’s the sheer strength in depth that makes them stand out. Both will leave out players that would walk into most other teams playing here. Both sides have the largest collection of exciting young players in the world at present due to long term planning and investment in youth facilities.
My worry as far as Spain are concerned is that the mainstays of their first choice first XI have looked tired lately. The Barcelona members have had around four years of non-stop football now, and they do not rotate much at the club. The likes of Xavi, Fabregas and Pique have all played around 50 matches and looked leggy recently against Chelsea whilst dropping out of the Champions League. The loss of Carlos Puyol to injury will also rob the squad of the most obvious leader in the dressing room. With David Villa missing all season to injury and Fernando Torres being Fernando Torres over the past two seasons they also lack goalscoring, mobile forwards, who are integral to their system. The likes of Fernando Llorente, Alvaro Negredo and Roberto Soldado have all scored plenty of goals, but none of them fit the system that has been so successful for Spain recently.
This makes Germany my choice for the whole tournament. Football seems to be increasingly won in central midfield now, and this is Germany’s major strength. For my money there is no better defensive midfielder than a fully fit Bastian Schweinsteiger, and he is coming back into Bayern Munich’s team now refreshed after a long spell out with injury. You then have Mesut Ozil as your flair in the middle, constantly probing opposition defences as well as an almost endless choice of small, quick forwards to choose from. There is also Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira as another more calming influence in the middle if that is needed, and his experience of winning the La Liga title, along with Ozil, will have them on a high coming in. You then have Mario Gomez likely to start with two from Marco Reus, Toni Kroos and Mario Goetze buzzing around him. Those three are amongst the most in-form players in Europe last season. Basically it has all come together at the right time for Germany to win, in my opinion.
Back Germany at 4.3 with Paddy Power.
To Reach The Semi Finals
An interesting market for those who like to back an outsider, but are not in it to trade if they progress. If you are a trader then I would still suggest backing the sides recommended here, but in the Winner market and then laying them on Betfair when you feel most comfortable getting your money in order.
With the Euros only being a 16 team tournament, there is more chance for an outsider to come through and do well due to the lower amount of matches. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than Greece’s amazing triumph in the competition in 2004. In my eyes that was the start of a change in tournament football as other countries saw what can be achieved with a highly organised team. This combined with the better sides playing a higher possession based game has seen the number of goals scored in tournaments on the decrease. This increases the likelihood that a lesser team can scrape through to the Semi Finals, making this possibly an excellent market to be involved in.
My choice is Poland. Poland as joint hosts will benefit from great support in all their matches and they have been put in the easiest group of the lot in Group A. They will not find it easy to beat Greece(no one does)but Russia and the Czech Republic are both shadows of the sides they used to be. Poland also benefit from players coming into the tournament having had very good seasons for their club sides. Robert Lewandowski has scored twenty goals in the Bundesliga for Dortmund and is now being linked with a big move this summer. Szczesny of Arsenal in goal will be as confident as ever and that should spread through the side. You also have the likes of Blaszczykowski and Obraniak who have had fantastic seasons on the wings for Dortmund and Bordeaux respectively. I think they’re a great bet.
Back Poland at 6.5 with BetVictor.
Another popular market is always Top Goalscorer. For the reasons outlined above though, I think it is becoming harder to pick one of the favourites at such short prices. There are very few matches where anyone is likely to rack up huge victories, and there could well be a tie for the winner. I usually look for a longer odds each way shot in this market, and I’ll be doing that again.
My method is usually to look for strikers who play as a lone striker, and who have been in good form in the past season. I think you can rule out Spain’s strikers, as they tend to share the goals around and I don’t think they’ll score many anyway. Lots of people are tipping Nikica Jelavic to shine for Croatia after a great season with both Rangers and Everton. Unfortunately they are in a group where goals will be at a premium and he is not a certain starter, so I’ll not be having him.
In Germany’s case, Mario Gomez will be likely to start on his own up front, but with goalscoring forwards around him I don’t think there’s any value in quotes of around 9.0 for him. I personally think a much better bet in the German squad is Marco Reus. The forward had a brilliant season with Monchengladbach and scored plenty of goals coming in from wide positions, as he will be expected to do for the national team. With my belief that Poland will go far and have a group where they could score goals, I would also pick out Robert Lewandowski as a good bet. He was one of the best strikers in Germany last season and Poland’s attack is basically built to supply him with chances.
Back Robert Lewandowski Each Way at 41.0 with Paddy Power.
Back Marco Reus Each Way at 51.0 with Ladbrokes.
I would say those are the main ones for now, I’ll be looking at the groups and will have my analysis for them online next week. Please feel free to use the comments section to ask about any markets you may have an eye on.