2012 European Championship – Group C Betting Tips
Two of Europe’s leading sides were paired in Group C and the match between Spain and Italy in Gdansk on 10 June will be one of the most anticipated.
While the two are hot favourites to qualify, can dark horses Croatia and Ireland cause an upset?
The current European and world champions are worthy favourites to win Euro 2012 and are just 1/9 to qualify from Group C. A 100% qualifying record saw Spain reach the tournament with ease and with most of the World Cup winning squad intact they will certainly be the team to beat in Poland and Ukraine.
Previous question marks about Spain’s big tournament mentality have been answered in style over the last four years and so the only criticism of their current side is the lack of genuine world class back-up for David Villa. Fernando Torres looks a shadow of his former self whilst only Fernando Llorente offers a decent alternative in attack.
Where do you begin?
From captain Iker Casillas, stylish defender Gerard Pique right through to the Barcelona attacking trio of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa, Spain ooze class in all departments.
Despite recent poor performances at major international championships, you can rarely rule out Italy as a major force. The Azzurri are just 4/6 to qualify from Group B and some recent encouraging performances should see them reach the knockout stages.
It will surprise no-one to learn that Italy’s qualification success was based on a solid defence. Cesare Prandelli’s side conceded just two goals in ten qualifying matches although the Italians don’t have a great record in the Euros, winning just once (back in 1968).
It’s in many ways a new look Italian team although, in contrast to many squads before, they are likely to feature players who ply their trade outside Serie A with the likes of Domenico Criscito and Mario Balotelli set to feature.
Domenico Criscito and Georgio Chiellini are the bedrock of the defence whilst wily midfielder Andrea Pirlo has been in excellent form for Juventus this season.
Republic of Ireland
Ireland have been unlucky in the draw and face two of the superpowers in European football as well as a dangerous Croatia side. However, there is much to be enthusiastic about despite Ireland being the outsiders at 3/1 to qualify from Group C.
Giovanni Trappatoni has fashioned a well organised, solid team who have conceded just two goals in their previous eleven internationals. Trappatoni aims to replicate Greece’s success of 2004 by keeping things tight and grabbing goals from set pieces or from a moment of magic from the likes of Robbie Keane or Aiden McGeady.
A good result in Ireland’s opening match against Croatia on 14 June could be crucial to their chances.
Richard Dunne’s performances in a green shirt have been excellent in recent years while Robbie Keane has 53 goals in 114 international appearances and remains key to Ireland’s plans.
Always considered a ‘dark horse’ at international tournaments, Croatia have managed to reach the knockout stages in three of their six attempts to date. Quarter finalists at Euro 2008, it will be a tough ask for Slaven Bilic’s side to reach the same stage this time.
Croatia have plenty of seasoned internationals in their squad although the likes of Josep Simunic and Ivica Olic aren’t getting any younger. They have the potential to cause an upset or two but are in a strong group and will do well to win a match.
Luka Modric offers plenty of creativity in Croatia’s midfield while the experienced Dario Srna is often the team’s inspiration.
It’s hard to look beyond Spain and Italy to qualify from Group C and this is reflected in the betting. However, if Ireland can bring their recent form to the tournament they could prove hard to break down and could be the surprise package of the tournament.