Knowledge of past European Championships will not guarantee winning bets, but what an awareness of the history of the tournament can do is better inform your betting decisions. It's worth considering the most successful countries, what's required to be the top scorer and when historic upsets occurred.
This will be the 15th European Championship since the tournament began with a Soviet Union victory in 1960. Since then, there have been three wins each for Germany and Spain and two for France. Out of 14 championships, these teams have combined to claim eight.
For Euro 2016, Ladbrokes has priced France as 16/5 favourites to win the tournament, with Germany at 9/2 and Spain at 5/1. Based on history, the merits of each must be considered before backing a team outside of the trio.
Qualifying for Euro 1992 was much tougher than it is today, as only eight teams could participate in the tournament. It originally meant that talented teams would often miss out. Today, Euro 2016 has been expanded from 16 teams to 24.
A prime example of unfairness is when the Denmark team finished second to Yugoslavia in qualifying. For perspective, this was a Danish generation with Peter Schmeichel and Laudrup brothers Michael and Brian. There were other supporting talents in the squad, but none expected to play in Euro 1992.
There was a dramatic change in fortunes when Yugoslavia were removed from the tournament for being in a state of civil war. This resulted in the Danes being called back from their holidays at a week’s notice before the competition began.
One player who didn’t show was Michael Laudrup, having fallen out with head coach Richard Møller Nielsen. Fortunately, Brian Laudrup and Kim Vilfort covered Michael’s absence in midfield and guided their nation to the final. The climax was a 2-0 victory against Germany to conclude their stunning tournament.
Portugal have been graced by some truly gifted players, including names like Cristiano Ronaldo, Luís Figo, Rui Costa and Deco. So, when all four combined for a tournament hosted on home soil, a nation expected their stars to triumph.
But they had an embarrassing start when they lost 2-1 to Greece in their opening group game. Surprisingly, the Portuguese and the Greeks would both go on to qualify at the expense of Spain and Russia.
Portugal’s recovery would carry them all the way to the final, where they would face a Greek team drilled in the defensive principles of discipline, organisation and lots of hard work. Head coach Otto Rehhagel’s tactics were good enough to frustrate Zinedine Zidane and the French, but the Portuguese were still expected to lift their first major trophy.
Over the course of the game, Portugal had 16 total attempts at a goal compared to Greece’s three. Ultimately, the Greeks only needed a single shot on target to win the game 1-0. For the many punters who doubted the Greeks, they missed out on considerable winnings.
Each European Championship provides a stage for new stars to emerge. Brian Laudrup is remembered as Denmark’s creative force at Euro 92, Karel Poborský is still revered for his magnificent lob at Euro 96 and Wayne Rooney’s global breakout came at Euro 2004, when he scored four goals at 18 years of age.
For more insightful fans, it can be extremely rewarding to unearth breakout stars, especially when backing them to finish as top goal scorer. Examples from past years include Tomas Brolin in 1992, Milan Baroš in 2004 and Mario Balotelli in 2012.
At this tournament, 23-year-old Spain forward Álvaro Morata would be an extremely rewarding pick at 20/1 with Ladbrokes Sports. The Juventus player has scored three in nine appearances for his country and could have numerous chances playing in front of creative midfielders such as Cesc Fàbregas and Koke.
Historically, the European Championship has been a smaller tournament compared to the World Cup and its 32 participants. By playing fewer games, there have been eight years when four or more goals were enough to be the top scorer. In fact, six players shared the honour at Euro 2012.
As a result, it’s often possible to pick the 'Golden Boot' winner from a country that doesn’t win the trophy. Over the past six tournaments, only two winners managed the feat as champions. Therefore, Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (11/1) and Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku (16/1) could be worth considering for Euro 2016.
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