Euro 2012 outright latest odds, news and free bets

There are sixteen teams that will feature in the Euro 2012 finals and it is fair to say that all of them stand a chance of making it out of the group stage and featuring at the business end of the tournament

Naturally, it would be a shock if the Republic of Ireland (100/1 BetVictor) or Denmark (100/1 Sportingbet) claimed an overall victory, although the reality is that the opening round of games are likely to be cagey and the sides with the best defence could win the day.

Ever since winning the 2010 World Cup, Spain have been favourites to lift the European Championship trophy and they made easy progress in a qualifying group that also included Czech Republic and Scotland.

Vicente del Bosque’s team are 5/2 (bet365 £200 free bets) to win a third consecutive tournament although there are reasons for thinking this might not be Spain’s year, including the law of averages suggesting their dominance can’t continue.

David Villa has been sidelined for much of the season and that would mean the manager having to choose from Fernando Llorente, Roberto Soldado or Fernando Torres in attack. Even so, Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Fabregas, Busquets and Silva will be formidable in the middle of the park.

If Spain are to be toppled, perhaps France are the team that can achieve victory, something that manager Laurent Blanc achieved with Les Bleus as a player. The French side bottomed out of the 2010 World Cup quite badly, although Blanc has the respect of senior players such as Patrice Evra, Franck Ribery and Florent Malouda.

France are a 12/1 shot (Blue Square bookmaker) to win Euro 2012 and England would certainly prefer to avoid them in their opening match of the tournament, especially with Wayne Rooney missing from the team.

Rooney’s red card against Montenegro could come back to haunt the Manchester United forward who will be cutting a frustrated figure from the sidelines as his team-mates endeavour to secure positive results against the French and Sweden.

Roy Hodgson didn’t surprise too many people when announcing his 23-man squad for the European Championship and the men in white can be backed at odds of 11/1 (BetVictor free bets) to not only make it out of Group D but also secure their second ever major tournament victory.

As always, there is an argument for and against England, with Chelsea defenders Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole proving in the Champions League final that they can prevent some of the world’s best players from breaking through.

However, there is a distinct lack of cutting edge in attack without Rooney and it’s a big ask of Danny Welbeck or Andy Carroll to be leading the line considering the pair have just seven caps between them.

Meanwhile, Germany will have seven Bayern Munich players hurting quite badly after that Champions League final defeat at the Allianz Arena, with Bastian Schweinsteiger a particularly dejected figure after missing in the penalty shoot-out.

Joachim Löw will hope that the disappointment of losing to Chelsea will stand his team in good stead, with the bookies expecting a strong showing from Die Mannschaft, having installed them as 10/3 second favourites (Paddy Power free bets) behind Spain.

There is a wealth of experience in this German team, with Lukas Podolski hoping to impress Arsenal supporters from an attacking midfield position, while Thomas Muller was the joint-top scorer at the 2010 World Cup and the 22-year-old could be among the goals again this time, as could Mario Gomez, who was culpable in the Champions League final.

Germany have been drawn in the same group as the Netherlands, with Bert van Marwijk having steered the Dutch to the final of the last World Cup and it is a similar squad who will be making the journey to Ukraine for their first three matches.

From an attacking point-of-view, there is plenty to like about a team that can call upon Robin van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and the formidable Arjen Robben. Defensively, there is less strength in depth and a reliance on Jonny Heitinga to shore things up at the back. Holland are 7/1 (Paddy Power) to go one better than two years ago.

Then we have Italy, a team that didn’t win a game at the World Cup and Cesare Prandelli needs to trim down his 32-man squad into a team who are capable of getting a result against Spain in the first match of the group, although a defensive approach is expected here.

Mario Balotelli is the obvious wild card in this Azzurri team and if you think they can make it from Group C and into the knockout stage, odds of 14/1 (Sky Bet) are available about the Italians who may be playing Spain at the right time.

The other team who look a big price are Russia, who can be backed at odds of 25/1 despite the fact that they couldn’t have hand-picked an easier group, while Dick Advocaat has the experience required to steer this team through to the quarter finals where they can have a crack at Germany or the Netherlands.

That is unless Portugal can force themselves into the reckoning, having been drawn in a tough section just as they were at the World Cup, although they managed to ease themselves out thanks to draws with Brazil and Ivory Coast.

As far as outsiders are concerned, one of Czech Republic, Poland and Greece have to reach the last eight and perhaps the Poles can make the most of home advantage to qualify, although whether they can lift the trophy at odds of 50/1 is another matter.

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