Taken from - http://viewfromtheshelf.wordpress.com/
Around two weeks ago I was considering writing about one of the 16 teams in Euro 2008 every day in the build up the tournamentís start. On Monday I was considering a four-day-long preview where I examined a different group every day. This morning I was thinking about an all-encompassing preview in one long post. Now, with the tournament starting tomorrow, you get something better than all those three combined. My much sought after gambling preview which, due to me covering so many bases, should be live throughout the tournament.
I have a massive fiver burning a hole in my online Bet365 account and as finances are slightly stretched I donít plan on investing any more during the tournament. With such limited funds, betting on favourites or short-odds bets doesnít seem worthwhile. I could try and keep backing winner favourite after favourite and re-investing every time Iíd inevitably be let down by Austria getting revenge for 1938 against Germany or something. This means that backing an outright winner seems largely pointless as everyone, except one team, with half a chance is below 10-1.
Top tournament goalscorer is a more tempting market. Although once again it seems a little small-fry for me. I want to win BIG on this tournament and that means combining the two. Tournament winner / top goalscorer. This is a dodgy bet because someone like Torres could easily score the most goals yet Germany win the show outright. These fixed markets only account for one country winning the Golden Boot and the trophy. Still - Itís only a fiver. Iíll start with the most interesting bet first.
Romania & Adrian Mutu @ 351.00, £1.00 Single
This is my most outlandish bet and I expect to be laughed at heartily for picking it. However it is far from as unlikely as the odds would suggest.
I think the winner is going to come from the ill-fated GROUP OF MURDEROUS DEATH but I think Holland can be pretty much written off. I like Robben, Van Der Vaart and Sneijder but their defence is poor and overall I donít think they quite have what it takes. Romania on the other hand are being written off as the whipping boys of the group but they actually took four points from Holland in the qualifying stages. They won said group, which also contained Bulgaria Slovenia, with +19 goal difference over only 12 games. This suggests they score goals and donít concede many at all, even against good teams (Holland failed to score against them at all).
They have two outstanding players in Adrian Mutu (above) and Christian Chivu with a promising young striker in Ciprian Marica also leading the line. Mutu is only seven goals off equaling Hagiís national record for international goals and could feasibly match or better that in the coming weeks, in about half the number of games it took the ex-Barcelona man. Itís not been a great start to June for Adrian, but it could end very nicely.
In my mind they are capable of getting 5 points in the group and have enough acumen to beat anyone in Europe on their day. I know this sounds quite obvious for a team ranked 12th in the world but for reason they have been largely ignored. I am getting in early so I can say I told you so when they take the trophy back to Bucharest. Nobody gave Greece a chance four years ago, and their squad didnít contain players possessing the class and guile that Mutu and Chivu provide.
France & Karim Benzema @ 81.00, £1.00 Single
Now for the first of the four more obvious choices. France have an amazing squad despite their trouble in qualifying. Nasri, Ribery, Toulalon, Henry, Anelka, Makelele and yet a young guy from Lyon could very well be in the ace in the crown.
Lyon have slapped a Ä50m price tag on his head after Man Utd were rumoured to be sniffing around and for good reason. He is arguably the best striker under the age of 21 in the world and doesnít seem to have any flaws. He is tall, strong, good in the air, pacey and capable of finishing with both feet. My only worries would be that despite all the above, France tend to have loyalty to the veterans in their side and he may not start every game with Henry and Anelka also in the squad. Also, the GROUP OF TORTUROUS DEATH is likely to a tight one and strikers in weaker groups (see my next pick) could have a major head start by the time it gets to the qualifying rounds.
Still though, 80-1 seems very generous and worth a pound of investment.
Germany & Mario Gomez @ 34.00, £1.00 Single
With reference to my Benzema / France comments, Germany find themselves in a very different situation. They are favourites to win the tournament and it is hard to argue even considering their lack of star power compared to rival nations.
First of all, they have the easiest group by far. They could not have cherry-picked it any better. They will face co-hosts Austria - who must be one of the worst teams to qualify from a European Championships in some years, Poland - Another poor side who seem to perennial qualifiers but consistent early-leavers at the same time, and Croatia - a talented team but one lacking their top scorer and only potent goal threat.
It is basically a home tournament for them as well and you would expect them to score hatfuls of goals early on. Miroslav Klose has profited in recent tournaments from similar situations and could do again this time. However better value can be found in his likely strike partner Mario Gomez. He has scored 44 goals in his last 62 games for his club Stuttgart and is being tipped as one to watch by informed European journalists. I donít personally think Germany will be outright winners, but the much-spoke cliche tells us to never write them off and if they are to triumph then this man may be hailed as the architect.
Italy & Luca Toni @ 34.00, £1.00 Single
Whose to say that the world champions donít have a shot of doing the double, ala France in 1998 and 2002. Captain Fabio Cannavaro is injured but expect their defence to be as water-tight as ever. Their problems could lie up front if anywhere. Del Piero is being trotted out for another tournament but it could be one-too many for the legend from Turin. Cassano is talented, but also mental. Borriello and Di Natale have had good seasons but are unproven internationally.
Their go-to man will undoubtedly be Luca Toni. He has just had a great debut season in Munich where he claimed top scorer honours in the Bundesliga. He also averages a goal nearly every other game for his country. Italy are second favourites to win the tournament with most bookmakers but that will not be possible without a good tournament from the highest paid player in Europe.
Spain & Fernando Torres @ 17.00, £1.00 Single
My final and most predictable choice. This is reflected in the frankly awful odds on offer. However if I had to stake my reputation (ha!) on choosing one combination then this would be it.
Spain have an outrageously talented group of players including Fabregas, Casillas, Xavi, Villa and a favourite of mine in Iniesta. Their shaky defence is offset by an easier potential route to the finals compared to their main rivals. Ignore the boringly repetitive pundits who will Pavlovian repeat to you ďthey never do it in big tournamentsĒ, this is their best chance in ages and El Nino is the most likely out of anyone to help them finally fulfil their potential.