The 16th edition of the European Championship gets under way on Friday when hosts France take on Romania in Group A. Here is our Euro 2016 preview, concluding with betting tips.
Didier Deschamps’ (pictured) side are the bookmakers’ favourites to triumph on home soil this summer, just as they did at Euro 1984 and at the World Cup 14 years later. Being able to play in their own country and in front of their own fans is a huge bonus, but France also have one of the strongest squads in the competition and would likely do well wherever the tournament was being held.
Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba are expected to shine, while Blaise Matuidi, Anthony Martial, N’Golo Kante and Dimitri Payet is not a bad support cast. There are some concerns at the back – Raphael Varane’s injury is a huge blow – but France will certainly be there or thereabouts.
World champions Germany have also been heavily tipped to lift the trophy two years on from their success in Brazil. Joachim Low’s charges have stuttered since then, losing to the United States, Poland, Slovakia and the Republic of Ireland among others, but their abundance of attacking riches means they should go far. In Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels they have the best centre-back partnership in the tournament, although question marks remain about the strength of the full-backs and who will play up top.
Spain are attempting to win their third European Championship in a row and should also be good for a place in the Euro 2016 semi-finals. The depth of their midfield options meant they could afford to leave Isco and Saul Niguez at home, while the back four looks reasonably solid too, although it remains to be seen whether the Spanish can recover from their dismal showing at the World Cup in 2014. Vicente Del Bosque looks set to opt for Alvaro Morata as his central striker. While the ex-Real Madrid man is talented, he was often third choice for Juventus last term.
England supporters are quietly confident of the Three Lions achieving something across the Channel, with the emergence of some key young players raising excitement and expectation. Roy Hodgson’s men will probably be too defensively weak to win the Euros, though, while Portugal – who have the tournament’s best player and some fantastic emerging youngsters to call upon – may also fall just short. Belgium have a wonderfully talented squad at their disposal but may not be able to fashion it into a well-functioning collective that amounts to more than the sum of its parts.
Austria, Turkey, Croatia and Poland have enough quality to advance to the last eight with a bit of luck on their side, while Wales could also cause a shock or two if they remain solid at the back and Gareth Bale makes the difference going forward.
Italy could struggle and optimism is not high among fans of Switzerland despite a favourable group stage draw. It is difficult to see Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Czech Republic or Iceland advancing beyond the round of 16, with Slovakia, the Republic of Ireland, Romania, Hungary, Albania and Northern Ireland likely to struggle to make it out of their respective groups.
Our Euro 2016 Preview’s Betting Tips Verdict
A market worth exploring in this Euro 2016 preview is that of the Golden Boot, where the shortest odds are available on Cristiano Ronaldo. A favourable group for Portugal means that it is tempting, but backing Thomas Muller to score more often than anyone else is probably the best bet after the Germany international’s prolific club campaign. For more of an outside shout, Austria’s Marc Janko – who, at the time of writing, has scored 26 goals in 51 appearances for a country widely considered to be a potential dark horse this summer – is available at odds of around 50/1.
- Betting Tip: France to win Euro 2016 @ 3/1 generally including with Bet365 and SkyBet.
- Betting Tip: Thomas Muller to win the Golden Boot @ best betting odds of 8/1 with SkyBet, BetVictor, Paddy Power. Do that bet each-way as the bookies go 1/4 odds the first four places.