Euro 2012 winner/top goalscorer tips.
It’s that time again – another major international tournament. More media hype, more discussions about if it could be ‘our year’ and, most excitingly, more top class players ready to set the continent on fire. Not literally, because that would be extremely hazardous. In this article I’ll be discussing who I expect to take the tournament by storm and who will offer more of a gentle breeze.
First up, the teams.
If history has taught us anything, it’s that any team is capable of winning a major international tournament – just look at Denmark in Euro ’92, Greece in Euro ’04 or Zambia in the African Cup of Nations earlier this year. Most people seem to have Spain (11/4) or Germany (3/1) as nailed down winners but, although they look the strongest on paper, it really isn’t that simple. The Netherlands (13/2) are also heavily favoured.
A lot of teams who’ve been somewhat written off have a big chance of winning this competition. France haven’t been beaten in their last 21 games and seem to finally be finding the attacking fluidity that will make them a major force again – at 10/1, they represent incredible value. Italy (16/1), despite moving to a more attacking system, conceded just two goals in their 10 qualifying games – less than any other team. Sweden, who pushed the Netherlands all the way (24 points to 27) in qualifying, are very capable on their day and are available at a massive 66/1. Russia (20/1) have a lot of attacking quality, especially in midfield, and will pose a serious threat to any team, providing they can minimise the amount of goals they leak as well as they did in qualifying. Poland (50/1) boast several really good players in their starting XI, including 3 Bundesliga winners, and have a great team spirit – they also have the home advantage. England (14/1)… Well… England have Stewart Downing. He’s due a good couple of games.
Despite the quality of all of these teams, I’m still going to have to go out on a limb and say that Germany (3/1) will win Euro 2012. I know, I know – I’m sticking my neck on the line here, but I’m feeling reckless. I actually tipped them to win the World Cup in 2010 but, on reflection, it was maybe a little bit too early for their young squad. Two years on, though, they’re a real force.
If you’re wondering why I’m not picking Spain, I just think their flawless “pass, pass, pass” philosophy will, ironically, flaw them. They have very little direct goal threat, next to no width and, without David Villa, a dilemma upfront. People seem to be too blinded by the beautiful passing and possession football to remember that Spain only scored 8 goals in the whole 2010 World Cup and David Villa, who won’t feature in Euro 2012, scored 5 of them. In comparison, Germany scored 16 goals in the 2010 World Cup. I’m not saying that Spain won’t do well, because I still expect them to reach the final, but I don’t see them becoming the first team in history to win 3 major international tournaments in a row.
As for the Netherlands, their attack boasts several of the world’s best players and they’re absolutely ruthless in front of goal – 3.7 goals per game in qualifying shows that. Unfortunately, they’re also prone to conceding (0.8 goals per game in qualifying) and, no disrespect to Hungary, Finland or Moldova, but they’re not exactly known for their attacking prowess. I expect the Netherlands to have an excellent tournament but fall short to another big team when it matters most. With Paddy Power, you can get odds of EVENS for the Netherlands to reach the semi finals and, as far as I’m concerned, that looks like money in the bank.
If you’re looking to stick a few quid on an outside bet (it’s always fun), I’d say that France (10/1), Russia (20/1) and Poland (50/1) are the best options. Both France and Russia are expected to qualify from their group with ease and are more than capable of upsetting any of the ‘top’ teams and, to be honest, I just have a good feeling about Poland’s chances of doing well.
My favourite bet that I’ve spotted for Euro 2012 is an accumulator for group winners. If you place a 4-fold accumulator on the teams you expect to win each group and one team lets you down, Paddy Power will refund your bet. My selection for this bet is Russia, Germany, Spain and France, which is available at 19/1.
Now, onto the individuals.
In terms of top goalscorer betting, we all know that the front men of top teams such as Gomez (9/1), van Persie (9/1), Benzema (12/1) etc. will all get goals and would all be a good shout to win the Golden Boot. With this in mind, I’m going to focus on some players who aren’t as favoured.
A striker who could set the tournament alight is Borussia Dortmund and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski. If you’re a fan of the Bundesliga, you’ve seen what this guy can do. In his final game of the season, Lewandowski scored a hat trick as Dortmund thrashed Bayern 5-2 to win the German cup and, if given the chances, he will score goals against any team. Obviously he had better service whilst playing for Dortmund, with new Man Utd man Shinji Kagawa threading balls through to him, but he’s still playing in a good team and is in what looks like the easiest group. Lewandowski is 20/1 to win the Euro 2012 Golden Boot and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he did.
When choosing a Golden Boot winner people often tend to ignore wingers, but there’s some very tempting odds on offer. I’ve already mentioned Germany’s attacking threat and odds of 28/1 for Podolski and Muller – who will start on the left and right of an attacking 3 – look extremely high. After his display in their last friendly, in which he scored twice, I fully expect Ibrahim Afellay to start on the left wing for the Netherlands and, at 100/1, he could be worth a cheeky few pounds. Keep in mind that 5 or 6 goals will probably be enough to claim the Golden Boot.
Other strikers who look to be good value are Antonio Cassano, who was Italy’s top scorer in qualifying, at 50/1 and Aleksandr Kerzhakov, who is the favourite to start up top for Russia, at 33/1. Kerzhakov isn’t exactly a household name, but he has been scoring goals at the highest level for a long time and has a really strong, creative midfield supplying him in Arshavin, Dzagoev and Shirokov.
So, the choice is yours. Do you want to go with a ‘safe’ choice – which, for me, is Robin van Persie at 9/1 – or do you want to take a gamble for a bigger reward? From my ‘outsiders’ I’ve personally got money on Lewandowski, Muller, Podolski and Kerzhakov, but if I was going to select one I’d go for Podolski at 28/1. Maybe it’s my Arsenal bias, or maybe it’s because they’re both world class strikers who are proven goal scorers at international level. I also like the look of Robin van persie and Karim Benzema to score more goals than Fernando Torres (who’s by no means guaranteed a starting place in Spain’s team) at 8/15 and 8/11 respectively. If you ask me, they both represent very little risk for a decent reward.
Germany to win Euro 2012 – 3/1 Paddy Power
The Netherlands to reach the semi finals – Evens Paddy Power
Russia, Germany, Spain and France to top their groups – 19/1 with Paddy Power refunding bets if one team lets you down.
Euro 2012 top goalscorer – Robin van Persie at 9/1 or Lukas Podolski at 28/1, depending on how safe you want to play it.
Karim Benzema to score more than Fernando Torres at 8/11 - Paddy Power
These are my best tournament bets for Euro 2012, if you are interested in following me, take advantage of Paddy Power matching your first bet up to £50 by clicking a link on this page.