Bettingpro.com writer Neil Roarty explains why he thinks that the Netherlands will be lifting the Henry Delaunay trophy in ‘Polkraine’ this summer.
Spain are the hot favourites to win this summer’s European Championships and it is easy to see why. Vicente Del Bosque’s side are the World and European champions and go into Euro 2012 on the back of a 100% record in qualifying. They are also almost entirely made up of Barcelona and Real Madrid players. The Spanish giants are the two best club sides in the world and even although neither won the Champions League, there are few observers who would doubt that assessment.
However, at odds of 11/4 with Ladbrokes
, Spain look too short on the outright market for Euro 2012. They may have qualified in style but they had a very easy group and were still pushed close in games by Scotland and Lithuania. They may have beaten those two but it was hardly convincing.
Then there is the problem of who to play in attack. David Villa’s broken leg will keep him out of the tournament in Ukraine and Poland and if the Barcelona striker is absent then Spain’s attack is severely diminished. Villa is his country’s record goalscorer and has established close relationships with the rest of the squad. He also plays in the same Barcelona side as Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Pedro – no other international striker in the world can offer this kind of understanding with his supporting cast.
Fernando Torres certainly isn’t the answer, with the Chelsea striker going goal-less for over half a season at club level and he hasn't found the net for Spain since June. He has fallen behind Fernando Llorente in the pecking order but the Athletic Bilbao striker is relatively unproven at international level.
If Spain are to be opposed then so too are Italy and France, who can both be backed at 14/1 with Bet Victor
, and England, who are now out to 16/1 at Ladbrokes
. The first two are going through a transition period at the moment and are attempting to play football in the Spanish style but they lack the ball-retention abilities of Xavi and Iniesta and the craft and guile of David Silva and Cesc Fabregas.
England are not even on the same level as France and Italy. They don’t pass the ball often enough and there is still too much of a ‘chip and charge’ mentality with the focus being on big defenders and midfielders who can tackle and run up and down the pitch all day, rather than technical ability. This style may have worked for Greece in 2004 but football has progressed since then and being able to have the ball more than your opponents is crucial, as Stoke City are starting to find out this season.
That leaves the 2008 European Championship runners-up, Germany, who are 3/1 at Coral,
and the 2010 World Cup runners-up, Netherlands, who can be backed at 15/2 with the same firm. Preference is for the latter, simply based on odds as there is no way that Bert Van Marwijk’s side, who blitzed their qualifying group, have only half as much of a chance as the Germans.
Germany were also excellent in qualification and the form for Bayern Munich of Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos plus the consistent excellence of Mesut Ozil at Real Madrid means that they have one of the most formidable attacks at the tournament. Bayern are, however, perhaps over-rated after their Champions League run and Borussia Dortmund, who won the Bundesliga, were miserable in the same competition, despite a predominantly home based squad.
There are also serious question marks over Germany’s defence, which is led by the hapless Per Mertesacker. The Arsenal centre-back looks out of his depth playing in the Premier League and the idea of the 27-year-old marshalling a back four to Euro 2012 glory is laughable. An organised team that can break well can punish Germany and that is exactly what Netherlands are.
The two neighbours have been drawn together in Group B and so their meeting on June 13th will be very interesting. A win for the Dutch will see their odds of winning Euro 2012 slashed and that is why it is best to back them now.
Bert Van Marwijk’s side were stunning in qualifying and they possess arguably the three most naturally gifted creative midfielders in the world in Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van Der Vaart and Arjen Robben. Ahead of that trio is Europe’s hottest striker, Robin Van Persie. Yes, the defence isn’t watertight but they showed at the 2012 World Cup that they can keep clean sheets and they were actually unlucky not to beat Spain in the final. That experience will have been chastening for a young squad and they can go one better in Poland and Ukraine. At odds of 15/2 they are far too big and should be backed. Nervous punters will almost certainly have an opportunity to lay the bet off as the tournament progresses.
Win Market – Netherlands (15/2, Coral