Euro 2012: underdogs are chasing an unlikely triumph
|BettingExpert/Betfair Euro 2012 blog correspondent entry profile|
|Andres Moncho has written for Betfair's Spanish betting blog and also written about his experiences playing in the World Series of Poker for Yonkis.com.|
|Website : Siyofuerarico.com|
Apart from America’s Cup footie event and the homonymous South-American qualifying stage of the World Cup, there is another elite competition that could be considered the most balanced football tourney of our era: the European Football Championship. It turns even more interesting considering the fact that Poland and Ukraine, the countries chosen for the hosting duties, have never achieved a huge success in football history nor have they got anywhere close to silverware. It's beyond any reasonable doubt that U.S.S.R.'s solid victories had a lot to do with good performance of Ukrainian players but let’s omit this, as well as 2009 UEFA Cup Final contenders. The controversial privilege of letting them start the tournament as top seeds has somehow distributed the teams in a manner that analysis toward group quartets indicates that the competition has gone completely off balance. As a result, the Republic of Ireland, Croatia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Greece and Denmark would hardly agree that their chances for glory are even-handed. It's pretty clear that the group stage draw has put misery on some of them.
If you’re old enough you should be thinking about Denmark’s success in Sweden, 20 years ago, not so long after all. What about Greece’s mammoth hangover after beating the odds in Portugal?! They were ranked 15th at the start of that Euro, only Latvian outright odds were bigger than the Greeks’ ones at the time. Those weird upsets happen from time to time, not to mention the magnificent Czech Republic squad that reached the 96’s final. Now let’s focus on some underdogs… well, let’s fancy they’re actually dark horses. Prior to that allow me to give you an obvious tip that could prevent you from making costly investments: do not lay huge amounts of money against several underrated outfits, risk-versus-reward ratio isn’t worth it. Germany and Spain are strong favourites, nevertheless this is football, not chess.
Sweden deserves to be commented inside out, first of all for not being as unlucky as most of us could’ve thought. Their rivals will be France, England and Ukraine: -les Bleus- and “the Pross” have been struggling recently to return to convincing winning ways due to the institutional crisis that surround their respective federations, and the hosts from outside the European Union are still far way from showing a decent playmaking level, therefore they aren't expected to overcome tall hurdles as those latter contenders should be. The Swedish are tagged as likely victims of a group that will probably see defensive tactics and a shortage of goals. Whether they become more ambitious or not it’s clear that Ibrahimovic will play a massive role if the Northern outfit plans to use counter-attacks, set-pieces and long-range passes in a regular basis. Provided that they find a way to improve their on-range shooting statistics and, hopefully, taking for granted that they will try to up the ante during second halves' stalemates… as a wise tipster I advise you to put a short-stack on them on their attempt to reach the quarter-finals.
Regarding Irish chances of becoming European winners, a feat still to be accomplished by their British neighbours, several factors need to be assessed before putting them on the brink of the growing list of candidates for success. First and foremost, they’re hardly ever seen as a strong team because they don’t usually qualify for back-to-back international tournaments and also because their domestic league isn’t among the biggest ones of the continent. However, nowadays they are guided by a skilled old-man that has already fought all kinds of battles in and off his native country: Giovanni Trappatoni. For those who aren’t impressed by this old-fashioned coach, let me tell you that nobody has won as many different club trophies as him. He is one of only three coaches, alongside Ernst Happel and José Mourinho, to have won the league title (10 titles) in four different countries (Italy, Germany, Portugal, Austria). Alongside the German Lattek, he is the only coach to have won all three major European club titles. Also, he is the only one to have won all UEFA club competitions and the World Club title, also having the record of UEFA Cup wins. If he keeps as healthy as his trophy shelf is, then beware of the fighting Irish men!
Czech Republic and Croatia are arguably the less foreseeable countries of the competition. The Czechs haven’t offered thrilling moments since their impact in the 1996’s edition and they don’t seem to be entitled to replay such an outstanding outburst. Roughly speaking, the veterans have forgotten the sparkling attitude that leads to victory and none of their promising youngsters have managed to become as shining as Karel Poborsky was in the mid-nineties. Back to the Mediterranean we must talk a bit about the Croatian outfit, a bunch of crusty players that have raised eyebrows worldwide during the latest years. Remember the set phrase “he’s all talk but no action”? Well, Croatia is exactly the opposite. The young Slaven Bilic has done wonders since his arrival to the bench, transforming a third-tier national team into a title-contender. No wonder that so many Croatians have been transferred to the top European leagues, Bilic’s make-it-or-break-it psychology is deeply inlaid in every squad member’s brain.
Finally, let’s speak out briefly about Russia’s chances. Dick Advocaat’s pupils shouldn’t be rated as underdogs, not anymore. Russian Football Federation has everything on its side to apply for a summit target: a rich domestic league, an experienced manager, young starlets peaking in confidence, and also a lucky draw that has put them into a fragile group A that includes Greece, Poland and Czech Republic.
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