In addition to my earlier preview of the Euro 2012 tournament that will begin on Friday the 8th of June, I now find myself searching for potential value bets to keep the tournament an entertaining and interesting spectacle throughout.
Here are some of the hopeful gems that I have found and reasons why I believe them to be fair value selections: -
STAGE OF ELIMINATION MARKET:
DENMARK 5-1 (Betfair) to reach knockout stage. (Market)
Given that they are in Group B, the supposed 'Group of Death', the Danes have been ignored in the betting and can be backed at quite generous odds to qualify from their group. The best odds available in the Stage of Elimination market is 17-2 to reach the Quarter Finals and 16-1 to reach the Semi Final. Couple those odds together though and you get marginally less value than the 5-1 to qualify from the group, and you do not get the option to cover with a possible final finish. Therefore there is some value in taking the bet and backing the Danes simply to get out of their tough group which includes Germany, Netherlands and Portugal.
CROATIA 7-2 (Skybet) to be knocked out at Quarter Final stage. (Market)
Group C looks desperately open behind the reigning World and European Champions Spain. Ireland with their line of 11 at the back will try to frustrate all their opponents and scrape through with a minimalistic attacking effort. Italy meanwhile are in dire traits with an abysmal preparation and legal issues concerning match fixing, their heads have dropped and they look unlikely to make any impact at all.
With this in mind there is a chance that Croatia may sneak through the group and reach the Quarter Finals. They will then play most likely France, England or Sweden and against any of these I think they will come unstuck and find their opponents too strong. The plan at this stage is to lay off much of the original 69-1 bet that I have placed on them to win the tournament for extra profit.
They are generally 7-4 to qualify from their group, which is not massive value when the 7-2 is available on them losing in the Quarter Final.
FRANCE 5-1 (Bet365) to be knocked out at Semi Final stage. (Market)
Group D will be a good test for France to prove their early credentials with England and Sweden likely to be the main opposition, with a defensive Ukraine also likely to put up some resistance. Should they win their group and likely avoid Spain they could have an easier route than most, into the Semi Final stage.
A 5-1 punt looks good value for them to be eliminated at this point, as we will already have a bet on them to win the tournament from my earlier preview. They are on an 18 match unbeaten run, but many of these results have been draws against lesser opposition and there is a possibility their run could end before the Final. If so, the prediction is that a Semi Final loss is the most likely outcome.
RUSSIA 14-1 (Various) to finish as runners up. (Market)
Having already backed Russia to win the tournament, I expect big things from them. Should they play a Germany, France or Spain in the final then their odds will still be 3-1+ to win the tournament at this late stage. Therefore an early bet at 14-1 on them to fail in the final will lessen the burden to lay off as much of our hopeful windfall on them winning the tournament. A 3-0 friendly win in Italy last week proved them to be a capable opponent against any of the big nations and given that this tournament will take place in Eastern Europe, they should feel at home in their surroundings and put in a big effort to finally win a major tournament.
TOP GOALSCORER MARKET:
Mario Gomez is the much fancied market favourite to end up as the top scorer in Euro 2012, but with a history of feeling the nerves in the 'Big Matches' he appeals as no value whatsoever. Even without this negative, Germany are in the toughest group where matches will be tight affairs and chances limited.
Robin Van Persie is another betting option but he is not assured of starting every game and he may be rested when a tactical change is made to incorporate the other attacking talent the Netherlands have. With a possibility that he may not get full game time, and a similar possibility that his team may not even reach the knockout stage, he too is little value to succeed as top goalscorer.
Christiano Ronaldo could be a big price at 14-1 but I am not too sure Portugal as a nation will achieve much in this tournament. The top goalscorer market will surely rest on a team reaching the Semi Final or Final and I do not see Portugal reaching the latter stages, so he can also be passed over.
The value bet in my mind is KARIM BENZEMA who will pose a huge threat upfront for France. They have the bonus of a possible easier group stage than most, with a defensive and injury hit England likely to be outplayed. Sweden can be unlocked and Ukraine could crumble under home pressure, against a team far superior to them.
In addition, the bonus should they win their group is the probability that they will avoid Spain in the Quarter Finals and face another easier test. Karim Benzema could have 3 or 4 goals by this stage and look a healthy proposition at 15-1 on Betfair (Market). At this stage, he could be as short as 3-1 for top goalscorer honours and become a great trade on the exchanges for profit either way.
Meanwhile in similar circumstances the team I fancy most Russia may well produce the top goalscorer themselves with a thriving ALEKSANDR KERZHAKOV looking for the goals and taking the Russian penalties this Summer. A useful international record has seen him capped 61 times for his country with 19 goals to date. He looks an exceptional dark horse at 40-1 with Stan James who go each way on the first four top goalscorers at 1/4 odds (as do all other bookmakers it appears).