Playing the ante-post market is always a risky game, even more so when you don’t know who is going to be in the actual final market, and that’s currently the case with next summer’s European Championship.
The tournament in France has been expanded to 24 teams for the first time and, with two qualifying group games still to be played, only five teams are definitely through to the finals, including the hosts.
England, Austria, the Czech Republic and Iceland are the other nations to have already booked their place, but it’s hard to say they represent any value in the ante-post market at this stage.
After an impressive qualifying campaign, which has often been the case in the past, England are 10/1 in the betting at the time of writing to win Euro 2016 and that looks plenty short enough given their past tournament record. With only one semi-final appearance in the European Championship in recent memory, and that was on home soil, it’s hard to get too enthusiastic about their chances, especially after the disappointment of the last World Cup.
The other three teams to have qualified are all huge prices and, while Greece’s triumph in 2004 serves as a reminder of the perils of dismissing the smaller nations, it’s hard to envisage Austria, the Czech Republic or Iceland making it through to the final.
World Cup holders Germany are the current favourites for the tournament and should confirm their place in the finals next month. They have been in three of the past five finals, along with another semi-final appearance in that time, but there’s no great value there.
The same can be said of hosts France. Clearly, France loving playing in tournaments at home or on their borders as they won the European Championship in 1984 on home soil, and then again in 2000 when Belgium and the Netherlands were co-hosts. They also won the World Cup at home in 1998. But, while there is plenty of young talent in Didier Deschamps’ squad, it’s a bit early to dive in on them.
Instead, there are probably three teams who have both the potential to win the tournament and some value about their current price.
Spain may have flopped at the last World Cup, but they have won the last two European Championships. They also reached the final when it was last staged in France in 1984. Though they suffered a surprise defeat in Slovakia, they have won all their other qualifiers and a home win over Luxembourg will confirm their qualification. The squad may be older now, but there is plenty of young talent to come into the equation and inject fresh legs, so 6/1 is a reasonable price.
Italy at around 16/1 also offer decent value, certainly in comparison to England. Finalists in two of the last four European Championships, the Azzurri are worth a second look.
The big value price, and of course the biggest risk as well, is 50/1 about the Netherlands. The best the Dutch can hope for is a play-off place and they are two points behind Turkey in the group. Danny Blind lost his first two competitive games as coach as well after replacing Guus Hiddink and it’s a tall order. But, if Blind can get the Dutch into a play-off place initially, the 50/1 price will quickly shrink and provide a great prospect to then lay and guarantee a profit.