Can England win Euro 2016? It’s possible. It’s not likely perhaps, but there really doesn’t seem to be any standout team among the 24 finalists and with a combination of a few impressive performances, a decent draw, a bit of luck along the way and, quite possibly, a new-found assuredness from the penalty spot, the prospect of Wayne Rooney (or whoever dons the armband should he be dropped) lifting the trophy on Sunday 10th July at Stade de France isn’t that fanciful.
The group stage requirements are straightforward enough. England know the three teams they have to face and qualification for the knock-out phase has been designed so that, even if things go somewhat awry, four points will almost certainly be sufficient to progress to the last 16. In all probability, three points and a reasonable goal difference could be enough and it wouldn’t be totally out of the question for a team to progress with even just a couple of points to their name.
The bookies certainly anticipate the Three Lions coming through the group stage safely enough, with Bet Victor’s 1/9 currently the best available price for England to qualify, while Paddy Power offer England at 10/11 to top Group B.
Frankly, if England fail to make the last 16 (a group stage exit can be backed at 7/1 with William Hill or you can take 10/1 with Boylesports that England prop up Group B), the wailing from the national media over the state of the English game is going to reach previously unchartered territory. It’s safe to presume that should they be returning home after meeting Slovakia on Monday 20th June, then there is more chance of Scotland declaring it a day of national mourning than there is of Roy Hodgson having his contract extended until World Cup 2018 in Russia.
Even were Euro 2016 to unfold largely as the pre-tournament betting market would suggest, a minor upset or two here and there is inevitable and could consequently change the make-up of the draw thereafter. However, rather than speculate as to where those upsets might occur and how that might impact the draw, let’s stick with the projected path of England and their potential opponents based on how the bookies currently envisage things.
Should England emerge as winners of Group B, they would then face a third-placed team from either Group A, C or D. Theoretically, based on the group betting odds, that would most likely mean one of either Romania (Group A), Ukraine (Group C) or Czech Republic or Turkey (Group D – prices vary between bookmakers as to which of these two is favourite to finish third).
England would begin a match against any of the aforementioned as warm favourites, but if you were to back an England exit at the last 16 stage today, the best available odds are (by some distance) the 5/2 with Bet365. Remember, particularly were England not win their group, their draw could be considerably more difficult, so those odds do hold some appeal. Of course, there is also the possibility that Rooney and co. do what’s expected of them, but could still come up against, say, Germany in the last 16 should they unexpectedly struggle in their group.
But we’re going to banish such thoughts from our heads and carry on down the sepia-tinted spectacles route where England justify their seeding and other groups are similarly predictable.
Provided England came through their first knock-out test unscathed, their next opponent would be the winner of the last 16 tie between the winners of Group F and the runners-up in Group E. If all goes according to the pre-tournament Euro 2016 betting odds that would suggest either Portugal or Italy would lie in wait for England at the quarter-final stage.
Now both of those teams have thwarted England’s ambitions in major tournaments in the not too distant past, so there will be no room for complacency against either. However, both Portugal and Italy are teams to be respected, rather than feared and Hodgson would fancy his team’s chances against either of them. Should you be less convinced, you can get 3/1 with BetVictor at present on England coming home at the quarter-final stage.
Victory there would take England into a semi-final clash against, should events pan out as anticipated, the winner of a quarter-final between the last 16 victors of Switzerland v Poland and Spain v one from Wales, Sweden or Iceland. The Euro 2016 outright prices would suggest that we are probably looking at Spain to overcome Poland to secure their place in the last four.
Of course Spain are the two-time defending champions and go into Euro 2016 looking to lift the trophy for an unprecedented third consecutive time. They are certainly in with a decent shout of achieving that aim, but not many pundits would argue that the current Spanish side is on a par with those of 2008 or 2012.
As things stand Spain would start any match between the two as marginal favourites, but they do want for someone reliable in front of goal. They are also almost as abject as England when it comes to penalty shoot-outs. Indeed, England’s only penalty shoot-out success came against Spain at the quarter-final stage in Euro 1996 at Wembley. Might that be a good omen perhaps? The Euro 2016 odds for an England semi-final exit currently stand at 11/2 with Boylesports.
And so to the Stade de France on 10th July for the final, where England would expect to meet the winner of a potential semi-final between France and Germany. That semi-final would potentially be a clash that could take an awful lot out of the victors, leaving them vulnerable in the final.
England’s price for Euro 2016 final heartache is 9/1 with William Hill, but if you envisage street celebrations throughout the land, half the country descending on Trafalgar Square and calls for the entire squad to be knighted, then you need to take the 10/1 on offer with Coral. Arise, Sir Roy!