Sports betting on soccer is tricky enough at the best of times with players switching clubs at the drop of a hat and the managerial merry-go-round slowing for no man, or woman.
However, international tournaments such as FIFA’s World Cup or UEFA’s European Championships throw up a whole load of other factors, which diligent sports bettors and punters must take seriously if they are to succeed at making enough correct predictions over the course of a tournament.
At times this can feel like the sport itself is playing poker with people, bluffing them with storylines that prove to be completely ill-founded by the time the group phases are done.
Here we make a few Euro 2020 group previews, as well as looking at the skills required to maximize such insights to the fullest extent. We will of course begin with Group A.
Group A – Italy Out to Cook Turkey and Harpoon Wales
Nothing is ever written in stone at an international competition such as Euro 2020, but there are some outcomes which most betting tipsters and sports columnists can agree on. One of these is that Italy will probably top Group A, especially seeing as they need to atone for the shame of not qualifying for World Cup 2018.
When it comes to Group A, though, real skill will have to be shown by punters in order to predict who will finish in the coveted runners-up spot, with Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales all in the running. As is the case in any good board game or classic card game, the best way to go about predicting this outcome is to weigh up the weaknesses and strengths of each individual outfit, in order to suss out an edge held by a certain team. There’s great skill in sussing out an edge in classic games or sports betting, but the best way to do it is to follow recent form trends and squad news, as well as scrutinizing whether the draw is favorable for a particular team.
In Group A the team showing most signs of falling apart, even before a ball has been kicked, are the Welsh, whose manager has been relieved of his duties and whose star players, Bale and Ramsey, have barely kicked a ball this season. That just leaves Turkey and the Swiss. With Burak Yılmaz in rude form for Lille and the Turks holding notable recent results against the Netherlands, Germany, and Croatia, it would seem as though Şenol Güneş’ men will clinch second spot behind the Italians.
For a cheeky side bet, punters could also wager on Italy not conceding a single goal throughout their group stage campaign, because the Azzurri are back to their best when it comes to defensive stinginess.
Group B – Danes to Leave Their Mark on Russia and Finland
This group is all about whether Belgium are still the power they were expected to be at Euro 2016 or World Cup 2018. On both those occasions they flattered to deceive, and with Hazard off the boil in Madrid, they may fall short again.
Having said that, they do have Romelu Lukaku, fresh from his Serie A triumph with Inter Milan, and a Champions League finalist in Kevin De Bruyne. All that firepower should be more than enough to see them top Group B.
Once again, the real skill comes in trying to figure out who will play second fiddle to the Belgians. Finding value is a skill that all sports bettors and competitors know well, and it usually comes from doing adequate research ahead of game time. While both Denmark and Russia are fortunate enough to be playing some of their group games on home turf, the final game between the two sides – which could be crucial – will take place in Copenhagen, and that is enough to convince us that Christian Eriksen and Co. will reach the KO stages.
Group F – The Group of Death Spells Trouble for Germany
No one can ever be sure about which French team will show up to a major championship, but the reigning world champions now seem settled under Didier Deschamps. Meanwhile, Portugal look even stronger than the team that won Euro 2016 and will be using that experience to repeat the feat.
That means that the ones dumped out in the group stage are Germany, who look a little lightweight in attack and midfield compared to their flash rivals. Add to that the fact that Germany have not beaten France since 2014, and the writing could be on the wall for Joachim Löw, as the nose picker extraordinaire hopes for a Euro swansong.