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Are Italy Now The Tournament Favourites?

June 22, 2016

- Grant Whittington

 

After delivering a tactical and technical master-class while beating Belgium 2-0 in their opening Group E game, Italy’s odds of winning Euro 2016 lowered dramatically. This performance, aligned with the Italian’s doughty reputation as tournament competitors, quickly helped the Azzurri to transition from dark horses to front-running favourites.

The Italians hardly ever excel during the early stages of a tournament, however, with their subsequent performances against Sweden (a narrow 1-0 win) and the Republic of Ireland (a disappointing 1-0 defeat) underwhelming in the extreme. This has caused the odds of an Italian win to lengthen once again, meaning that they have once again been consigned to the role of outsiders.

Can Italy still win the Tournament?

In terms of numbers, the Italians started the championship at an average price of 19/1. Although they could be backed at 9/1 immediately after beating Belgium, they have since drawn back to a median price of 16/1. Even Portugal can be backed at lower odds of 12/1, with England, Croatia, Spain, Belgium, Germany and France all considered as superior prospects by the bookmakers.

While Italy’s rise and fall in the eyes of bookmakers may seem a little dramatic, much of this has to do with the nature of the knockout draw. Italy are in the hardest half of the draw, for example, while their second round opponents Spain are currently fourth favourites to reclaim their European crown. A game against Germany could await the Italians in the quarter-finals should they succeed, with France or even England waiting further down the line.

The complexities of the draw also underline why Belgium remain third favourites for the title, as despite their comprehensive defeat to the Italians and underwhelming group stage performances they have a far easier route to the final on the 10th July.

Why you can never write-off the Italians

Overall, it is easy to understand why the Italians remain relatively unfancied by the bookmakers. They also lack a little quality in midfield and attack in comparison with previous years, meaning that they may ultimately struggle to progress beyond international superpowers including Spain, Germany and France.

Despite this, Italy can never be discounted from contention at a major tournament. After all, they were unfancied in 2012 when they reached the final of the competition,  while they also initially underwhelmed in the World Cup of 2006 before ultimately eliminating hosts Germany and lifting the crown.

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