Euro 2012 – Groups A and B
We move on now to the individual groups and the betting within them as well as looking at some of the teams themselves in the betting. You can now bet on loads of different things within the groups, amount of points a side will get, straight forecasts etc. These special markets are worth looking into as they are often only there as added extras, and the bookies don’t really play that much attention to them.
Group A is up first and contains Russia, Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic. It could well be seen as the weakest group, but that in itself opens up betting opportunities.
The favourites for this are Russia with around 2.5 available across the board, however I think they could well find themselves out at this early stage. They’re a very hit and miss side, and needed the play-offs to qualify for the tournament itself. I think it’s well worth looking at Poland to top the group. They have a number of players in form heading into the tournament as well as home advantage. The most important thing for them will be for Robert Lewandowski to continue the form he has shown for Dortmund this season. If he is scoring then I can see them progressing a long way. I can see Greece being as hard to beat as ever, but I doubt whether they will do any more than challenge Russia for second position. They don’t score nearly enough to make a flying start, and have taken three goalkeepers who are basically awful.
Back Poland at 3.75 with BetFred.
To Finish Bottom
With this group having no absolute standout side it could well be looked at as a free for all for qualification, however I see the Czechs as the weak link. They were a great side around a decade ago, but have not produced any real players of note since then. There are still members of the side from Euro 2004 around like Milan Baros with their best days a long way behind them. If Russia play to anything like their best then I fail to see the Czechs beating anyone in the group, they could even go home without a point.
Back Czech Republic at 3.4 with Stan James.
This is the market for which two sides will qualify for the next stage and I can only see two sides getting out. I was interested in Greece as they are one of the most difficult international sides to beat and therefore should have a chance at qualification. However I have read numerous articles panning their squad choice, particularly their goalkeepers and it has taken away any confidence I had in them. I think you have to gamble on a decent Russia side showing up. With Andrey Arshavin and Roman Pavluychenko regaining some confidence having been loaned back to Russian sides from their Premier League owners and also Andrei Kerzakhov having another great season for Zenit I think there’s more chance of a good showing than a bad one.
Back Poland/Russia at 3.5 with BetFred.
Group B contains Germany, Holland, Portugal and Denmark and has been rightly dubbed ‘The Group Of Death’. Germany are my tip for the whole tournament and Holland can always be relied upon to make an impression.
There can only be one side in this for me, and that’s Germany. There is no side in world football with as many in form players as them at present. Some will point to a ‘weak’ defence containing Per Mertesacker, but they will be as well-drilled as ever and they’ve done well before with worse players at the back. Midfield is where they show their strength. Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger are probably the most dynamic midfield pairing we will see at the tournament and Mario Gomez will not be short of chances to score. Holland will have a say if they can avoid defeat to Germany, but I think even in that case Germany will be more likely to lead on goal difference. Portugal and Denmark can be ruled out of this as they are not close to the level of Germany and Holland.
Back Germany at 2.1 with Paddy Power.
To Finish Bottom
This is seen by the bookmakers as a foregone conclusion, and it is hard to see past Denmark for holding the group up, but I think it’s worth a punt on Portugal. They are incredibly reliant on the form of Cristiano Ronaldo and that could be their undoing if he fails to fire consistently. He tends to struggle for Portugal as the rest of the side is not really up to his level. In particular, they still do not have a regular scorer and so the burden to grab goals also falls upon the Real Madrid man’s shoulders. Denmark have got some good young players like Christian Eriksen of Ajax and Niklas Bendtner of Arsenal in the squad. Both sides are unlikely to get much from matches with Germany and Holland so the match between the two will probably prove the decider for this bet. I think Denmark have more of a chance than the odds suggest, so I’m going to side with them.
Back Portugal at 3.75 with Bet365.
As mentioned I really can only see Germany and Holland emerging from this group. Holland now have a solid defence, something they have lacked in the past, and have players in form heading into the tournament. Robin Van Persie and Klaas Jan Huntelaar have set personal records for goals scored this season and will head into the tournament full of confidence they can continue. Rafael Van Der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder have been rested/withdrawn at times by their clubs, but both are still more than capable of turning it on when the mood takes them. The only worry would possibly be Martin Stekelenburg’s form for Roma, but he should look better again behind a familiar defence. Therefore with these things taken into account the betting seems straightforward to me.
Back Germany/Holland at 2.1 with Paddy Power.