The campaign trail towards France 2016 is all but over, and we know the identity of the 16 teams that will compete for the famous trophy.
The tournament itself may be just under a year away, but now is as good a time as any to place your wagers. The market prices are sure to drop in the weeks and months prior to European football’s premier competition.
The three teams that currently head the betting tips – Germany, France and Spain – naturally are still the best bets (sorry England fans!), so who stands out the most?
Early outright favourites with the bookies, the Germans will boast the best squad at the competition – which can be a defining factor when injuries and suspensions are taken into consideration – and as the reigning World Cup champions have that big tournament pedigree that at those crucial ‘clutch’ moments is all-important.
Five of that starting eleven from the World Cup final will be aged 30 or over come next summer, but that shouldn’t be seen as a detriment: the experience could come in handy.
And whilst the Germans certainly aren’t invincible, after being beaten by both Poland and the Republic of Ireland in their qualification campaign, they are what the industry likes to call the ‘smart bet’. In Thomas Muller, who bagged five goals and three assists at the World Cup in 2014, they have the player to watch.
France have qualified automatically as hosts, and so little is known of their form from a competitive perspective, but an encouraging showing at the World Cup last summer – and a largely young and talented squad – gives them plenty of hope of recapturing the days of 1998-2000, when Les Bleus captured the ‘double crown’: the European Championship and World Cup.
The spine of this French team looks fantastic: Hugo Lloris in goal, Raphael Varane at centre half, Paul Pogba and Morgan Schneiderlin in midfield and Karim Benzema up front. Factor in the hugely talented Antoine Griezmann and the exciting Anthony Martial, and you have a recipe for success.
The French fans will also know that the last two times they have hosted a major tournament – World Cup ’98 and Euro 2002 – their team have lifted the trophy.
This is a surprisingly long price for a side that are the reigning European champions and who possess a squad packed with quality that performs week in, week out to the highest standards at club level.
Spain have qualified in convincing fashion too – winning nine of their ten matches and scoring 23 goals in the process – and whilst their World Cup 2014 was something of a horror show, the Spanish have regrouped under the shrewd leadership of Vicente del Bosque.
They still boast the talents of Cesc Fabregas, David Silva, Santi Cazorla, Alvaro Morata, Pedro, Sergio Busquets and many more, and so you have to expect them to go deep into the competition.
There aren’t that many Euro’ 16 betting markets open as yet, although plenty of the leading bookmakers have created their ‘To Make Finals Squad’ market to entice some early punters.
As previously mentioned, now is as good a time as many to place your bets – the prices are sure to tumble in the run up to the tournament, so how about placing this accumulator today?
To make the England squad for Euro 2016:
Joe Hart; Wayne Rooney; Raheem Sterling; Jordan Henderson; Harry Kane; Theo Walcott; Leighton Baines; Phil Jagielka; Nathaniel Clyne; Jonjo Shelvey.
This little lot look a shoe-in for selection in France, barring injury or a huge loss of form, and together this acca pays out at 21/1!
By: Craig Simpkin