Eight years ago Greece upset the odds by winning Euro 2004 against host nation Portugal. Football betting expert Jonathan Day analyses the potential outsiders for this summer’s European Championship.
Russia qualified top of the Republic of Ireland’s group with seven wins from ten games, suffering just one defeat during qualification.
Russia reached the semi-finals in 2008 after being knocked out by eventual winners Spain, but the vast majority of the squad that featured in Portugal will be present in Poland with the likes of Denisov, Anyukov, Pavlyuchenko and the Berezutskiy brothers all benefiting from a further four years worth of experience.
Dick Advocaat’s side received a favourable draw by being picked in Group A alongside co-hosts Poland, Greece and the Czech Republic. Russia could be a good back-to-lay option with the qualifiers from Group A due to face one of Germany, Portugal or the Netherlands.
Disgraced in the last two major international tournaments; France finished bottom of Group A in South Africa for the 2010 World Cup and also finished bottom of Group C in Portugal at Euro 2008.
Since then former Manchester United defender Laurent Blanc took charge of Les Bleus and France topped their qualification group with 21 points.
France face England in Group D’s opening game with co-hosts Ukraine and Sweden making up the rest of the group. Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery are class acts, whilst Ligue 1’s top goalscorer Oliver Giroud could also cause problems.
Croatia booked their place at Euro 2012 with play-off victory over Turkey.
Slaven Bilic’s side won seven games in qualification Group F, scoring 18 goals with Mandzukic, Eduardo and Olic amongst others providing the firepower.
Croatia reached the quarter finals of the European Championships in 2008 and Luka Modric, Darijo Srna and Eduardo are part of a squad of ambitious players with a good blend of youth and experience.
Group C opponents Italy have a relatively inexperienced squad for this summer’s tournament, whilst forward Giuseppe Rossi will be sidelined to hamper the Azzuri’s chances further and backing Croatia to qualify from Group C at 7/4 represents good value.
Spain however remain strong favourites for this summer’s European Championship with both Germany and the Netherlands close rivals. Dutching on all three remains a solid option, but as Greece famously showed in 2004 outsiders do not necessarily need to be overlooked.