Such is the belief of many punters, then this market could be renamed ‘who’ll be playing Spain in Kiev on July 1st?’, but there is plenty to tempt those who don’t want to back the European Championship holders to earn another crown this time around.
The Spanish themselves are evens (all odds with Bwin) to reach the showpiece event in the Ukrainian capital four years after Fernando Torres’s goal in Vienna saw them beat Germany and win Euro 2008, and although that doesn’t represent too much value for backers of Vicente del Bosque’s side, it is sure to be enough to tempt many into looking to double their money.
In truth it is tough to put anyone off backing Spain, but they’ll need an opponent in the Final with them, and this is where things get interesting.
Most seem to agree that any potential Final opposition to the Spanish will come from Group B, where Germany and Holland go head-to-head in undoubtedly the strongest meeting of the group stages.
Whoever wins the group will most likely ensure that they won’t have to play Spain until the Final, and although it is the Germans (7/5) who are more fancied to reach the last stage, the value provided by the Dutch (3/1) looks tough to ignore.
The winner of their group will take on the runners-up in the extremely weak Group A in the quarter-finals, before a probable meeting with France, Italy or perhaps England in the semis. All of this of course comes down to who wins the Group B match between Germany and Holland in Kharkiv on June 13th, and with it being impossible to find the Dutch as big as 3/1 to win that fixture anywhere, then backing them to reach the Final would surely make more sense – if take a lot of courage.
Outside of the big three then there appears to be a lot less to tempt punters.
England – given all of their internal problems – look poor value at 5/1 to reach Kiev, with Group D opponents France (11/2) and Group C’s Italy (6/1) similarly unattractive.
Of the trio it is probably the French who look the most tempting to those looking to back one of the slightly smaller three, with Laurent Blanc’s side finally over all of the chaos that saw them exit the World Cup in 2010 in disgrace, and favourites to win a Group D that, as well as England, includes Sweden and the co-hosts Ukraine.
The biggest problem for them and indeed England is that one of them will have to face the Spanish in the quarter-finals, with Italy arguably getting the longer straw by meeting them in the group stages. Beat the Republic of Ireland and Croatia and the Italians will be in the quarters, but then things get a long tougher for them from there.
Portugal’s odds to reach the Final (17/2) would be a lot shorter had they been placed in a kinder group, but seeing as they are alongside both Germany and Holland in the tournament’s inevitable group of death then those numbers could be doubled. After Russia – given odds of 9/1 to reach the Final but only because of their favourable group draw – then odds of 16/1 bar should turn punters away from the rest of the field.
The three teams at the front of it rightly head that field, and whilst it may still be impossible – and a bit daft – to look past the Spanish to reach the final, the odds that it’ll be the Dutch who join them there are only likely to shorten over the course of the tournament.