Is it possible to break down the Euro 2016 Groups?

We are now just hours from the start of the Euro 2016, as France prepare to kick-off the group stages with their opening clash against Romania the Stade de France. This is an unusually difficult tournament to call, however, and not only because there are now 24 competing teams and more complex qualification criteria to reach the knockout-phase.

The first-phase is also tough to call, including relatively simple groups, confusing ones and the obligatory ‘Group of Death‘. This can make it hard to make predictions or effective wagers, so it is important to get the low-down on these groups and identify the teams that will prosper.

We are now just hours from the start of the Euro 2016, as France prepare to kick-off the group stages with their opening clash against Romania the Stade de France. This is an unusually difficult tournament to call, however, and not only because there are now 24 competing teams and more complex qualification criteria to reach the knockout-phase.

The first-phase is also tough to call, including relatively simple groups, confusing ones and the obligatory ‘Group of Death‘. This can make it hard to make predictions or effective wagers, so it is important to get the low-down on these groups and identify the teams that will prosper.

So let’s take a look at three of the more interesting groups in this years’ tournament, including…

Group F: The Bettors Haven?

Group F appears to be something of a bettors haven, as it is relatively straight-forward to predict (barring seismic shocks, of course) and home to a number of potentially successful wagers. Portugal are the clear favourites to qualify in first place, for example, while an Austrian side that qualified with nine wins and a draw from its 10 qualifying games is also odds-on to make the knockout-phase.

This leaves Iceland and Hungary battling for third, but the fact that the former qualified ahead of Turkey and the Netherlands earmarks them as a likely qualifier for the second-round. You can also lump money on the relentless and mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo to be the group’s top-scorer, which is safe a bet as you can make at a major international tournament!

Group D: The One that not even Paul the Octopus could have called

While some would categorise this as the dreaded ‘Group of Death’, the fact is that nobody knows exactly what to expect from any of the four competing teams. Sure, Spain may be third favourites at 9/2 and in position to compete for a third consecutive European crown (and fourth overall), but their poor showing at the 2014 World Cup and an influx of unproven youngsters in the squad make them difficult to back.

While the Czech Republic and Turkey emerged from a qualification group including the Netherlands and held the highest coefficient ranking in Pots 3 and 4 respectively, both sides look a little limited and have the potential to fail at the first hurdle. The same can be said for Croatia, who despite boasting some impressive talent and the gifted Luka Modric remain short on pace and genuine international pedigree.

With Croatia, the Czechs and Turkey all similarly priced to qualify alongside Spain (who are also far from the force that they once were), this is the most difficult group to call and one for even seasoned bettors to ignore.

Group E: The Real ‘Group of Death’

Now we come to the real ‘Group of Death’, and what is undoubtedly the toughest selection of sides at this years’ European Championships. Led by Europe’s top-ranked team Belgium and including a tournament-hardened Italy, a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-inspired Sweden and an organised Republic of Ireland side, every single point will have to be painstakingly earned while goals will also be hard to come by.

While Belgium and their so-called ‘Golden Generation’ are narrow favourites to top the group, Italy have selected an experienced squad and retained many of the stars that progressed to the final back in 2012. They are also doughty tournament performers, while the individual quality in Sweden’s team makes them opposition to fear. Even Eire pose a significant threat, as despite being the minnows of the group they have excellent defensive organisation and took four points from six against Germany during the group stages.

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