Euro 2016: We examine the group bankers and blowouts
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the 2016 European Championships are here at last, and the expanded 24-team format could produce the best tournament in the competition’s history. With more teams of course, comes more opportunities for a successful punt.
Six teams of four will fight it out for 16 second-round places, and with intrigue and pitfalls lurking in everyone group, the opening stage is set to be a thriller.
With no clear-cut favourite, and the likes of Germany, Italy and Spain all lacking some quality from years gone by, plus a host of tournament debutants out to make a good impression, all six groups should be full of drama.
But can the group favourites be backed to come through unscathed and top their respective quartet of teams?
Here’s what we think…
Group A – France @ 1/3
The shortest price group favourite and it’s little wonder why.
A sublimely-talented French squad, coupled with the likes of Romania and Albania mean only a failure of stunning proportions can deny Les Blues grabbing first place.
Even Switzerland, the other team in Group A, are little improved from the side who were hammered 5-2 by the French at the 2014 World Cup.
Safety Rating: A+
Group B – England @ 4/5
The disappointing draw with Portugal aside, England have shown over the past 12-18 months that they have enough talent to see off Russia, Wales and Slovakia.
Roy Hodgson’s men should be expecting at least seven points out of Group B, and a safe trip into the knockout stages.
Safety Rating: A
Group C – Germany @ 4/11
They’ve suffered some odd results of late – losing to Poland and the Republic of Ireland in qualifying, and Slovakia last week – but history shows Germany usually come good at the finals.
If Germany bring their finest football then they’re devilishly hard to keep pace with, but they’ve done little late to show that will be the case and the Poles could trouble them for that top spot.
Safety Rating: B-
Group D – Spain @ 8/13
Four years ago a Spanish team in a group containing Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic would be nowhere near as long as 8/13 to top it.
They may not retain that unstoppable slick football of old, but only Croatia really pose much threat, and Spain should be going through unbeaten, and thus, probably top of the group.
Safety Rating: A
Group E – Belgium @ Evens
The biggest price of all the group favourites, Belgium must turn their golden generation potential into results this summer.
Sweden rely heavily on Zlatan Ibrahimovic and transitional Italy lack firepower, while on paper the Republic of Ireland don’t carry the same quality.
Having lost only two of their last 18 games, Belgium look well-priced for top a competitive group.
Safety Rating: A –
Group F – Portugal @ 9/10
Portugal are a peculiar team in a peculiar group. Boasting the most talented player in the competition in Cristiano Ronaldo, A Selecao play rather cautious football.
Iceland, and in particular Hungary, should be dispatched with rather comfortably, but it’s highly-rated Austria who are the cause to swerve backing the favourites topping Group F.
Safety Rating: C
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.