Jun 082012
 

And so it begins. Three and a half weeks of what promises to be a highly entertaining European Championships. As usual, I’ll be making my predictions below, and putting my money where my mouth is with a few bets. Well, I say putting my money where my mouth is, I’m only staking £1/£2 each time, so I’m hardly backing my judgment with a great deal of confidence. In any case, you can track the progress of my Euro 2012 bets (there will be one per game, plus bonus ones) on the panel to the right.

I can assure you, at least, that there will be no impossible predictions here. Wrong, most likely, but not impossible.

So, let’s get straight to it:

Group A
(Czech Rep, Greece, Poland, Russia)
(Arsenal interest – Rosicky (Czech Rep), Szczesny (Poland), Arshavin (Russia))

On paper, the weakest of the groups, but yet no-one in here is a total pushover. Poland have home advantage, while all three other nations have been surprise packages in recent tournaments. I fancy the hosts to progress, along with Russia.

1. Russia
2. Poland
3. Greece
4. Czech Republic

Group B
(Denmark, Germany, Holland, Portugal)
(Arsenal interest – Bendtner (Denmark), Podolski, Mertesacker (Germany), van Persie (Holland))

The Group of De….no, I’m not going with that cliché. It is brutal, however, yet I see this one going to form, with Germany and Holland progressing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Holland top the group, even though Germany are my tip to lift the trophy – the Germans are often slow starters. I have a hunch that Portugal are going to have a tournament to forget.

1. Holland
2. Germany
3. Denmark
4. Portugal

Group C
(Croatia, Italy, Ireland, Spain)
(Arsenal interest – none)

The head says that Italy and Spain should qualify, but when you see two massive nations paired together in the group stages, it is always like clockwork that one of them will fail to progress. I’m going with Italy on that note, with Croatia qualifying at their expense. I’d love to see Ireland doing well, but I just don’t see it. Perhaps they may take a draw from Italy to cost them a knockout place, but not lift Ireland from the bottom.

1. Spain
2. Croatia
3. Italy
4. Ireland

Group D
(England, France, Sweden, Ukraine)
(Arsenal interest – Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott (England), Koscielny (France))

Which England will turn up? The crap one, or the efficient but uninspiring one? The latter might make the quarter-finals, the former will go home with their tails between their legs. Perhaps it is because I like Roy Hodgson that I think he’ll get England the results they need to progress, albeit after losing their first game to the French.

1. France
2. England
3. Sweden
4. Ukraine

Quarter-Finals

Russia v Germany -> Germany
Spain v England -> Spain
Holland v Poland -> Holland
France v Croatia -> Croatia

Of course, predictions at this stage rely entirely on the group stage guesses being even close to correct, so bear with me on this one, but it would be to the surprise of no-one to see Germany, Spain and Holland in the semi-finals. The only shock I’ve gone for is a win for Croatia at the expense of France, who remain a nation able to lose to anyone when things don’t click.

Semi-Finals

Germany v Spain – Germany
Holland v Croatia – Holland

This is where I expect Spain to fall down. Superb as they are, I don’t see them winning this one, and could see either of the two sides I’ve picked for the final knocking them out, depending on the ways the ties fall.

Final

Germany v Holland -> Germany

They’ve been my tip for some time now – having proved so impressively in youth tournaments over the past ten years that they are a nation on the rise, I expect this tournament to be the one where Germany establish themselves as top dog once again. Would be a good final from an Arsenal perspective too, if you discount the resultant exhaustion.

Betting Tips

Time to back those predictions with a few bets. If you plan on following any of these tips, bear in mind that I have accounts with Sportingbet and Betfair, and am picking the best odds of the two. You may get better odds elsewhere, so feel free to shop around.

1) Germany to win Euro 2012 – £2 at 23/5
2) Holland to win Group B – £1 at 9/5
3) Portugal to finish bottom of Group B – £2 at 3/1
4) Croatia to qualify from Group C – £2 at 13/8
5) Holland reach the final – £2 at 16/5

And now, finally a few of tips for today’s games:

1) Poland to beat Greece by a single goal (1-0, 2-1 etc) – £1 at 13/5
2) Arshavin to score against Czech Rep – £2 at 24/5
3) Russia and Czech Republic to draw – £1 at 2/1

And that’s it – feel free to add your own predictions or comments below. Enjoy the tournament!

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