On the eve of the 2012 European Championships, the temptation to have a flutter steadily grows. No matter which teams succeed and which teams fail in Poland and Ukraine over the next three weeks, one group is sure to win—the bookies.
While your seasoned gambler will already have laid a multitude of bets, spreads and accumulators on all manner of things, your part-time punter is still mulling over whether or not to risk their two cents on Spain retaining the title.
For those who have not been scouring betting shops and websites for the best prices, or poring over results and statistics for the past few weeks, here is a rundown of some of the odds that are out there.
Odds sourced via Oddschecker. Average odds correct at time of writing.
Quelle surprise! Spain and Germany are virtually neck-and-neck with the bookies as favourites to win the tournament.
Defending champions Spain remain slight favourites despite losing both record goal scorer David Villa and top defender Carles Puyol to injury. The Germans, who lost to Spain in both the Euro 2008 final and the World Cup semifinals two years ago by narrow 1-0 scorelines, are just behind them.
No team has ever retained the European Championship, let alone done so while also holding the World Cup.
World Cup finalists two years ago, Netherlands were top scorers in qualifying with 37 goals and as such are third-favourites.
Despite being 14th in the FIFA world rankings and 10th in Europe, France are next ahead of England, Italy and Portugal. Then again, when you consider that Les Bleus are currently on a 21-game unbeaten run, that’s not so surprising.
Greece and Denmark have both been surprise winners of the competition over the past two decades, each winning a trophy which neither England nor Portugal have ever claimed.
But still, these two alumni of the Henri Delaunay club have been given some of the longest odds this time around.
Sandwiched in between them are Republic of Ireland, whose defensive obdurateness saw them keep clean sheets in half of their qualifying matches, and who obviously have not convinced the bookies that they can grind their way to glory like Greece.
Czech Republic 75/1
Republic of Ireland 94/1
Home advantage is certainly playing a part in the bookies’ thinking when it comes to the odds for the co-hosts. Poland are ninth-favourites to lift the trophy, putting them just outside the top half, while Ukraine are 50/1 despite being the lowest-ranked side in the tournament according to FIFA.
Poland to win 40/1
Ukraine to win 50/1
The pair also have favourable odds to reach the semifinals, which is of course somewhat deceptive.
Reaching the last four would be a historic achievement for either nation, but it only really entails emerging from one of the two easiest groups at the tournament and getting lucky in the second round.
Poland to reach semifinals 9/2
Ukraine to reach semifinals 5/1
Four years ago, Mario Gomez became something of a laughing stock across Europe when he failed to produce for Germany at Euro 2008, missing plenty of clear-cut chances along the way.
Today, after a season in which he has scored 41 competitive goals for Bayern Munich, he is the bookies’ favourite to win the Golden Boot at another European Championship.
Netherlands striker Robin van Persie is just behind Gomez in the odds stakes after his phenomenal season with Arsenal, while his Dutch colleague Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is only seventh on the list despite top-scoring in qualifying with 12 goals.
Mario Gomez 8/1
Robin van Persie 9/1
Karim Benzema 11/1
Cristiano Ronaldo 14/1
Fernando Llorente 15/1
Fernando Torres 16/1
Klass-Jan Huntelaar 17/1
Robert Lewandowski 20/1