Euro 2016 Preview

May 30th, 2016 Betting Tips, Previews

Euro 2016

As summer gets into full swing, it can only mean one thing – time for another Euros. The long-awaited 2016 tournament looks set to be bigger than any in the competition’s history, with 24 teams participating for the first time ever, to be crowned undisputed champions of Europe. Expectations are running high across the continent and indeed the wider world, as fans prepare for a showcase of some of the world’s leading footballing talent across 51 games. With squads being finalised, coaches tidying up their tactics, and the last pre-tournament friendlies coming to their conclusion, the stage in France is set for what looks to be one of the most exciting tournaments in years.

The expanded format has opened up the playing field to encompass a number of new additions, including some first timers to the tournament, like Albania, Wales, Iceland, Northern Ireland and Slovakia. At the same time, the mighty Dutch are notable absentees from the line-up, as are 1992 champions Denmark, who failed to qualify this time around. With the bigger teams shaping up to be extremely competitive, and more teams than ever before making it through to the next stage, anything could happen in this year’s tournament.

This Year’s Format

The main difference this year with previous competitions is the format, based on the numbers of teams set to compete. For the first time ever, 24 teams will take part in the competition, up from the normal 16. That means now there is a round of 16 for the first time, which encompasses the winners, runners up and the four best third place teams from the group stages. Essentially, this means the only teams to be eliminated early on are the 6 teams who will finish bottom of each group, as well as the two worst-faring third place teams. After the group phase is settled, the tournament switches to knock-out, advancing through the rounds until both sides of the draw have produced a finalist. The final is scheduled for Sunday 10th July.

Euro 2016 Teams

Some commentators have noted that the expanded format of the tournament, while helpful for allowing other nations to compete, is far from ideal. However, we think advancing to the knock-out stages with more teams still in the mix could make this year’s competition more exciting than ever before, and it certainly presents a broader range of options for those who enjoy a flutter.

Competition Favourites

Griezmann - France Euro 2016France: The hosts start the tournament as early favourites, but this is by no means clear in the bookies eyes. Only edging ahead of Germany, France are arguably benefiting from home advantage in the eyes of the bookies. But they are the deserved favourites in terms of their squad, a team coming into its own with the likes of Pogba, Giroud and Griezmann all looking sharp in a team that has strength all over the pitch. With the home crowd behind them all the way, Didier Deschamps looks certain to be there or there about by the time the competition gets in to its closing stages.

Germany: Current World Champions and a perennial feature on the international footballing scene, I can’t recall a tournament in living memory where Germany were not in or around the top favourites to triumph. Their penchant for ruthless football ensures results, even though they may not have the individual brilliance or flair of other teams. The German team come into the tournament with a reputation to maintain, and plenty of players with points to prove. While this may not be the finest German squad in history, it is still likely to reach the latter stages of the competition, and will post an immense threat to all comers along the way.

Spain: After the end of an era of Spain dominance, and several poor showings over immediately preceding competitions, Spain will come into Euro 2016 wanting to demonstrate they still have what it takes to play incredibly effective football. The possession based style of the last decade or so seemed invincible, and proved too much for virtually all comers. However, opponents adapted and began to break down the Spanish core tactics, and the team that approaches this tournament does so with much of their prior confidence dented. That said, Spain do have a team of enviable quality, with the likes of De Gea, Pique, Fabregas, Iniesta, Pedro and Morata involved in a squad that could field an incredibly competitive B team if needs must.

England: Not necessarily the bookies favourite to do any damage this time around, we think England could be in with a credible chance of winning the tournament. Roy Hodgson’s men will certainly be in and around the tournament come July. While defensive vulnerabilities are unquestionable, the team benefits from strong midfield and attacking options, with several young strikers in particular coming in to the tournament in good form. While the Premiership season may have been topsy turvy in seeing Leicester City come out as champions, followed by Spurs, there is no denying the spirit, hunger and form of players like Jamie Vardy, Harry Kane and even young Marcus Rashford.

With the bookies pricing England as a bit of a long-shot among the big teams, they remain serious contenders, and shouldn’t be overlooked – some of the prices are so good, we might just have to take a punt ourselves.

Surprise Packages?

Belgium: Belgium are making a return to the Euros for the first time in a number of years. The team has developed over the last few years into an international powerhouse, with good showings in World Cups and qualification games, thanks to a crop of emerging individual talents. Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, Eden Hazard and the rest comprise a team of multi-million stars, and they could be due a strong run by the time the competition gets underway. Don’t write off the Belgians too early – they may well have the quality and now the maturity to compete at this year’s tournament.

Italy Euro 2016

Italy: Once a footballing powerhouse in their own right, Italy don’t have the team they used to. But to say this was a squad that was incapable of winning would be to do the Italians a great disservice. While a lack of attacking options means this won’t be the highest scoring squad in the competition, the defensive block is as solid as you could hope for, with the Juventus back-line effectively transposed directly into the national setup. This means Italy will be tough for other teams to break down, and depending on how the tournament shapes up, this could be of significant benefit to the squad and their chances of progressing. A cagey tournament plays well into Italy’s hands, so don’t write them off too soon either.

Our Verdict

Euro 2016 is shaping up to be a cracking tournament, and there is plenty of excitement to come over the next month. While it’s difficult to call an obvious winner in isolation, there are signs that the favourites are there for a reason. Our view is that France, despite home advantage, will find it difficult to execute convincingly where it counts, reflecting a similar lacklustre desire and hunger we have seen in other recent tournaments. With Germany as efficient as ever, they look sharp to triumph once more. That failing, this could be England’s chance to finally make their mark on a tournament. While the defence is a little shaky, there are signs of promise in the England squad. If Leicester City have taught us anything this season, it is surely that England could pose a credible threat of walking away champions.


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