Euro 2012 Soccer Betting Preview
by Trevor Whenham - 6/6/2012
Euro 2012, the once-every-four-year event widely viewed as the second biggest soccer tournament in the world after the World Cup, starts on June 8. If you haven’t been paying very close attention to European soccer in recent months and years then fear not — here are the basic facts you need to be ready to find the winners and make your profitable bets (all odds are from Bovada):
Opening day is on June 8, with the finals taking place on July 1. The preliminary games will take place from June 8 to 19. The playoffs start with the quarterfinals from June 21 to 24, and the semi-finals on June 27 and 28.
As is becoming more common in major international tournaments, two countries are sharing the hosting duties — Poland and Ukraine. Preliminary games will be played in Gdansk, Warsaw, Poznan, and Wroclaw in Poland, and Lviv, Kiev, Kharkiv, and Donetsk in Ukraine.
Poland is six hours ahead of New York, so noon in Manhattan is 6 pm in Warsaw. Ukraine is one more hour ahead. Start times for all game in the tournament will be either noon EST or 2:45 p.m. EST, so you’ll need a good excuse for your boss if you are betting on weekday games and want to watch them.
The finals will take place in Kiev in Olympic Stadium in front of the biggest crowd of the tournament — more than 60,000. Both host countries were given automatic bids, so 51 teams were left to fight for 14 remaining spots. Ukraine will be making their first appearance in the tournament as an independent country.
The 16 teams in the field were split into four groups of four teams for individual play. The assignment was random, though the process ensured that the groups were as evenly-balanced as possible. Each team will play each other in their group in preliminary play. The top two teams of each group will advance, with the winners of one group playing the runner-up of another in the quarterfinals. From there it is a single-elimination tournament until only one team is standing.
This is the 14th time the European Championships have been held. In 2008 the tournament went pretty much as expected, with Spain beating Germany, 1-0, in the final. The previous tournament was a real shock, though, as Greece beat Portugal to become the least-likely winner in the tournament’s history.
Group A is the weakest of the four groups. Russia is favored to win the group at +140, with host Poland at +250, Czech Republic at +400, and Greece at +450. Russia is only the eighth choice to win the tournament at 20/1, so it would be an upset if any team in this group did real damage in the playoff rounds.
Group B is dramatically tougher. Denmark, at 80/1 to win the tournament and +1400 to win the group, is the only team with little chance of moving on. Germany, +110 to win the group, Netherlands at +185, and Portugal at +400 are all strong teams that can be viewed as serious contenders. Germany is the second choice overall to win the tournament at 3/1 with Netherlands third at 7/1.
Group C is headlined by the top team in the world right now — Spain. They are the defending champions of both this tournament and the World Cup, and they are well positioned to continue their major tournament winning streak. They are the heavy -175 favorites to win the group, and 13/5 to win the tournament. Looking to knock off the champs are Italy at +325, Croatia at +600, and Ireland, in the field for the first time in 24 years, at +1200.
Group D is highlighted by a grudge match between bitter rivals England and France. England actually opened as favorites to win the group, but they now sit at +185 while France has surpassed them and sits at +150. Hosts Ukraine will be well poised to take advantage of a misstep by the favorites at +400, and Sweden rounds out the group at +600. Overall France has a slight edge as well — 10/1 to win it all compared to 11/1 for England. Patience will be in limited supply back home for England as they look to overcome the embarrassment of failing to qualify for Euro 2008.
The favorite to lead the tournament in scoring at 7/1 is Mario Gomez. If you judged by his name you would never guess he is the star of the German squad. He actually has Spanish citizenship along with German, but he made the choice to play where he was born and raised. The 26-year-old striker plays for Bayern Munich, and he has been with the national squad since 2007. He’s a freakish scorer, though his tough early games could work against him.
Robin van Persie of Netherlands is the second choice at 11/1. To be the scoring leader in this tournament he’ll need his team to avoid their habit of getting knocked out early, and he’ll need to be more productive than in past tournaments — he had just two goals at Euro 2008, and half that at the World Cup.
Showing just how strong Group B is, third choice for leading scorer is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s a hard player to handicap. On one hand he is a scoring freak — he recently became the only player in La Liga history to score 40 goals two seasons in a row. His international play has been terrible, though — he had only one goal in the World Cup and one in Euro 2008. His team is also far from certain to advance, so he could struggle to get enough opportunities to come out on top.
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