The odds have been set for next summer’s Euro 2008. The favourites out of the 16 nations to win the tournament are Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland and France. Co-hosts Austria and Switzerland have been seeded first along with defending champions Greece as the race for the final in Vienna on June 29th begins.
The Germans had a near faultless qualifying campaign and became the first team to book their place in the tournament. Lukas Podolski had a hand in scoring seven goals for the team. Odds: 11-2. Holland, relying on their new crop of Real Madrid’s galacticos — Ruud van Nistlerooy, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Royston Drenthe — qualified after a crucial goal was scored by van Nistelrooy against Bulgaria. Odds: 6-1.
Renowned for their defensive football with much dependence on Fabio Cannavaro and Gennaro Gattuso, World Cup Champions Italy team experienced a rare spate of attacking football towards the closing stages with goals scored from Luca Toni against Scotland and Georgia. Spain are heavily reliant on Fernando Torres and David Villa up front. Always have high expectations before a major tournament but never quite seem to reach their full potential. According to the bookies, the Azzurri have the same chances as Spain. Odds: 7-1.
France, despite their home and away defeats to Scotland, did eventually make it. The team had a slow start at the World Cup last year before eventually finding form and progressing to the final. The team will be looking to Florent Malouda and Franck Ribéry for their pace and creative play, and to Thierry Henry and a revitalised Nicolas Anelka for goals. Portugal boss Luis Felipe Scolari has had an interesting campaign amid accusations of throwing a punch at a Serbian player. The injuries they’ve had, notably to defenders Ricardo Carvalho and Jorge Andrade haven’t helped things but as ever Cristiano Ronaldo will be the key to their progression in the tournament. Both France and Portugal have the same chances, say the bookies. Odds: 12-1.
The Czech Republic, Switzerland and Sweden have all been labelled as dark horses. The Czechs are a good side and always seem to prove themselves as worthy contenders, highlighted by an impressive 3-0 win against Germany. Odds: 20-1. The Swiss being the stronger side out of the two hosts, proven by a 3-1 win over Austria in October have been given odds of 22-1. They’ve been dogged with inconsistency though after underperforming defeats against the US and Nigeria in the last two months. The Swedes have been given odds of 25-1. Controversial and temperamental Zlatan Ibrahimovich remains the national sides key despite not having scored for his country in two years.
Romania have qualified for a major tournament for the first time in seven years. They were impressive during qualifying though and have genuine world class players like Cristian Chivu. Odds: 28-1. England’s crucifiers Croatia have pivotal players in Eduardo and Luka Modric plus a well organised young coach in Slaven Bilic combining to form a charismatic team. Odds: 33-1. Defending Euro champions Greece glided through qualification to rightfully defend their crown. Coach Otto Rehhagel, the hero from four years ago, has several prolific talents such as striker Theofanis Gekas. Odds: 50-1.
Poland reached their first European Championships in a game against Belgium where Euzebiusz Smolarek scored twice. Much reliance falls on their captain Maciej Zurawski. Odds: 50-1. Austria had a string of winless matches, nine in total, prior to last month’s win against the Ivory Coast. This forced Austrian FA president Friedrich Stickler to give the dreaded vote of confidence to boss Josef Hickersberger. Goalkeeper Alex Manninger has been the best player in a fairly weak team. Odds: 66-1.
The relieved Russians thought they had blown their chances last week when they lost to Israel but England retuned the favour by losing at home to Croatia. They can cause problems, as they’ve shown during qualification, with experienced coach Guus Hiddink in charge. Odds: 150-1. The least favourites of the tournament falls to Turkey. They made qualifying hard for themselves with frustrating draws against Moldova and Malta, eventually finishing second to the Greeks. Odds: 500-1.
Had England qualified for Euro 2008 their odds were down as 9-1.