Euro 2016 France – Outright Winner Preview

6th June 2016

With eight additional teams vying for glory at Euro 2016, this summer’s expanded European Championship look set to be more open than any in recent memory.

Having seen surprise champions Leicester City pull off the greatest shock in Premier League history, even competition debutants such as Iceland, Albania and Slovakia will be optimistic of upsetting the big boys over the coming weeks.

Nevertheless, with home advantage on their side and a multi-talented squad to choose from, France are 3.90 favourites to lift the trophy for the third time in their history – and second as host nation following their 1984 triumph.

As ever with the hosts, a lack of competitive qualifiers makes it difficult to judge Les Bleus’ progress over the past couple of years, although impressive friendly wins over the likes of Spain, Portugal and Germany since the World Cup suggest they will definitely take some stopping.

Priced just a touch behind on 5.00, Germany will be hoping to replicate Spain’s achievement of following up World Cup success with European Championship glory.

Despite some disappointing recent friendly results, Joachim Low’s star-studded squad should be expected to carry on their country’s tradition of delivering the goods when it matters – having reached three finals and one semi-final in four of the last six Euros.

The first ever team to retain this trophy, Spain are available at 6.00 to atone for their disastrous World Cup defence by making it three in row in this competition.

Although drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ alongside Croatia, Turkey and the Czech Republic, a qualification record of nine wins from 10 suggests La Roja are not contemplating any slip-ups in a competition they have dominated recently.

The only team to win more qualifiers en-route to the finals, England will be feeling more optimistic than ever of ending what is now 50 years of hurt in search of silverware.

Boasting an exciting young generation of talent headlined by the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Jack Wilshere, the Three Lions are sure to attract plenty of attention at 8.50, although recent tournaments suggest they will need to significantly up their game when faced with top-level opposition.

While they may come into the tournament as the world’s second best international team according to FIFA’s rankings, Belgium are still 11.00 dark horses to pick up the first major title in their history.

Blessed with inarguably one of the most star-studded squads in the tournament, Marc Wilmots’ team will surprise nobody if they do deliver on that promise this summer, regardless of their potentially tricky group stage draw against Italy, Sweden and the Republic of Ireland.

However, while the Belgians boast star names but lack a track record of success, for their first Group E opponent it is quite the opposite.

Runners-up to Spain four years ago, Italy come into this competition without key midfielders Claudio Marchisio or Marco Veratti due to injury and lacking inspirational leaders of the past such as Andrea Pirlo or Alessandro Del Piero.

With this in mind, the four-times world champions are 17.00 long shots to add another chapter to their nation’s proud footballing history this year.

In contrast, Portugal can lay claim to probably the biggest star name in the tournament, with Cristiano Ronaldo so often proving the difference for Fernando Santos’ side.

Nevertheless, the likes of Pepe, Joao Moutinho and Nani prove A Seleccao are not just a one-man team, and with a relatively straightforward group featuring Austria, Hungary and Iceland to contend with, odds of 21.00 look like excellent value on them picking up early momentum before going all the way.

Combining Ronaldo’s Real Madrid team-mates Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic with Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic, Croatia are another team more than capable of leaving their mark on the competition and can be backed at 29.00 to pull off a shock win.

Finally, having qualified for the European Championship for the first time in their history, an Austria team inspired by Bayern Munich’s David Alaba are priced at 41.00 in what promises to be an unusually unpredictable tournament.

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