Euro 2020 outright tips: Best bets for the tournament
With the European Championships getting under way this week, Will Rook picks the best-looking bets ahead of the tournament.
The Spain team of 2008 and 2012 are the only side to have ever successfully defended the European Championships, but the strength of holders Portugal’s squad means that could be about to change.
Their 26 appears as if somebody has used a fantasy football cheat code.
Such are the attacking options at Fernando Santos’ disposal that even Cristiano Ronaldo’s place in their XI isn’t as comfy as it once was.
Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Felix and Diogo Jota also help form the basis of this formidable collection of talent.
Portugal have at least made it to the semi-final in four of the last five European Championships and though their group for this one – featuring France and Germany – is tough, they have little to fear.
Germany struggle to defend, their XI looks like a match for France and Hungary should be an easy three points.
When you consider the quality of the team that went all the way in France in 2016, there is no comparison.
It’s easy to be excited about England when you look at the talent Gareth Southgate has available to him.
Couple that with the potential for just one of their matches to be played away from Wembley en route to the final and it could be a special month for the Three Lions.
England have won 11 of their last 12 games at Wembley and lost just twice in their last 24.
Southgate’s side were emphatic in qualifying, too, winning seven of their eight matches and scoring 37 goals. Harry Kane top scored in the campaign with 12.
Realistically, it will be a disappointment if England don’t top Group D.
That could set up a potential last-16 meeting with France or Germany, neither of which should faze them – especially at Wembley, given that they have beaten Croatia and Belgium there since the last World Cup.
They have every chance of making it to the final on July 11.
To qualify from Group D: SCOTLAND
Appearing at their first major tournament since 1998, Scotland are not just here to make up the numbers.
And given that four of the best third-placed sides will qualify for the round of 16, this feels like a juicy price.
Steve Clarke’s side come into the Euros on the back of an impressive 2-2 draw against the Netherlands in which they were leading up until the last minute.
They are also unbeaten in eight matches at Hampden Park, which will be the venue for their games against both Croatia and Czech Republic.
Scotland owe their place at the tournament to the Nations League play-off system, in which they beat Israel and Serbia.
As part of their Nations League campaign, they also beat fellow Group D side Czech Republic at home last October.
With three points likely to be enough to secure their passage to the knockout stages of the tournament, they are capable of repeating the trick.
Last-16 elimination: GERMANY
Germany are coming into this tournament in worse shape than any other under Joachim Low.
They have won just 11 of their 21 competitive matches since the 2018 World Cup, conceding an average of 1.38 goals per game – the second-most of any team to have qualified.
That defensive vulnerability is likely to be exposed in their opening two games against France and Portugal.
Germany have failed to win any of their last seven matches against teams with a FIFA ranking of 17 or above, so it’s possible that Low’s side will go into their final match against Hungary without any points on the board.
They should win that one, though, so looks a big price for them to take exactly three points in the group.
Given that four third-placed teams will make the round of 16, that will likely be enough for them to avoid an embarrassment, but a knockout tie against England, Netherlands or Belgium could come next, so an early exit is very possible.
0 points: HUNGARY
Despite a nine-game unbeaten run – their longest since 1972 – it’s hard not to be fearful for Hungary, who have been drawn into the toughest group imaginable.
Marco Rossi’s side weren’t spectacular in qualifying, winning just four of their eight matches – the equal-fewest of any side at Euro 2020.
They finished fourth in a five-team group, finishing above Azerbaijan only, before qualifying through the play-offs.
If the prospect of facing France, Germany and Portugal - the three teams to have won the last three major tournaments - wasn’t intimidating enough, the fact that they will have to do it without key player Dominik Szoboszlai is borderline terrifying.
The 20-year-old midfielder is Hungary’s most expensive player of all time following his summer move from RB Salzburg to RB Leipzig.
It was his sensational strike against Iceland in the play-off that secured Hungary’s place at the tournament, while he managed nine goals in 22 appearances for Salzburg in 2020/21.
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