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The UEFA European Championship has seen some shocks down the years – Denmark in 1992 and Greece in 2004 spring to mind – but one expects the biggest edition of the tournament to pan out the way in which bookmakers are expecting it to do so.
Hungary, Ireland, Sweden and Ukraine won the UEFA European Championship play-offs ties to complete the full field of 24 sides that will compete in France next year but, sometimes, bigger is not better. Twenty-four teams means more matches, more ticket sales and more television revenue but more quality? No, one is not buying that argument at all.
The UEFA European Championship draw will not happen until Saturday 12 December but the governing body has announced the pots and, because the seedings seem to make sense, the probability of a Group of Death is low. Therefore, one does not see any reason not to dive head first into the UEFA European Championship winner market at this juncture.
One thinks that the FIFA World Ranking has some merit for identifying underrated/overrated teams but, at the risk of sounding harsh, the top of it is unrealistic and does it no favours with the general public. For example, does anyone apart from FIFA’s statisticians think that Belgium is the world’s strongest side currently? Does anyone outside of FIFA think that Portugal is the world’s fourth best team? And does anyone not on the FIFA payroll think that Wales deserves to be rated as the world’s 15th finest outfit?
The World Football Elo Ratings, which use the same system that enables FIDE to rank chess players, make much more sense. According to the World Football Elo Ratings, the world’s strongest side is Germany, with Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Chile, Colombia, England, France and Uruguay ahead of 10th-ranked Belgium. The World Football Elo Ratings tally with the UEFA European Championship top seeds, whereas the FIFA World Ranking does not rate France very highly at all.
Every major event throws up a team that onto which all the hipsters latch on and candidates for the UEFA European Championship dark horse include Austria, Poland and Switzerland. If Robert Lewandowski continues to bang in goals for Bayern Munchen then one would expect Poland to be the UEFA European Championship outsider that shortens in the market but general title odds of 66/1 67.00 +6600 66.00 66.00 -0.02 do not appeal. After all, Poland has not defeated a UEFA European Championship qualifier outside its own country since it edged Wales 1-0 in Portugal six years ago. The World Football Elo Ratings rank Poland as the joint 13th best of the 24 UEFA European Championship qualifier, level on the same score as Russia.
The more that one looks at the UEFA European Championship market, the more that one thinks that dutching the three favourites – Germany (odds of 7/2 4.50 +350 3.50 3.50 -0.29 with Bwin), France (odds of 7/2 4.50 +350 3.50 3.50 -0.29 with Coral) and Spain (odds of 6/1 7.00 +600 6.00 6.00 -0.17 with Ladbrokes) makes good sense at odds of around 7/10 1.70 -143 0.70 -1.43 0.70 .
Going down the UEFA European Championship market, Belgium is massively overrated, England is weaker than it has been for decades, the same applies to Italy, while Portugal is too reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo, which is why it has not been successful at tournaments in recent years. It is 33/1 34.00 +3300 33.00 33.00 -0.03 bar the first seven in the UEFA European Championship betting and difficult to get excited about any of the 17 outsiders.
The UEFA European Championship will run from Friday 10 June 2016 to Sunday 10 July 2016, with host nation and Group A top seed France involved in the opening match in Paris.
Dutch Germany, France and Spain to win Euro 2016
Odds: 7/10 1.70 -143 0.70 -1.43 0.70