Germany and Spain have won the most European Championships with three apiece, while France is next with two. At Euro 2016, these top teams will be the favourites for many, but it’s worth remembering that outsiders have won two of the past six tournaments.
This happened when Denmark defeated Germany at Euro '92 and Greece upset Portugal at Euro 2004. It's true that numerous tournaments can go by without an underdog winning. Punters should look out for opportunities at the group stage, where upsets are much more common.
For perspective, read on for the preview of teams to watch out for at this year's Championships.
Croatia has overcome the turmoil of a sacked head coach, the docking of a point and the playing of two qualifying games without a crowd. Nevertheless, they finished second in group H on 20 points, with Italy four clear and Norway one behind. In qualifying, Croatia were stubborn opponents for Italy after earning two 1-1 draws.
Croatia’s squad is filled with familiar names like Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Mario Mandžukić and Darijo Srna. They also have other talented options in Inter Milan midfielder Ivan Perišić and Fiorentina striker Nikola Kalinić.
At Euro 2016, the Croatians will play in a competitive group D against the Czech Republic, Spain and Turkey. William Hill Sports has Spain as 1/16 favourites to qualify, while Croatia is next at 2/7. If Croatia could upset the Spanish, then 7/2 to win the group is appealing. As tournament winners, Croatia is priced at 25/1.
Poland pressed Germany until the very end of qualifying and missed out on winning group D by a single point, as they had the superior goal difference of +23 compared to +15. In their encounters, Poland won 2-0 at home, with Germany winning 3-1 at home.
Those results will have a strong bearing on the tournament, as Poland and Germany have been paired together in group C, along with Northern Ireland and Ukraine. Poland and Germany will resume their rivalry on 16 June 2016, with the victors certain to be favourites to win the group.
At present, William Hill considers Germany the favourites to win the group at 1/3, while Poland is further back at 9/2. Poland doesn’t offer much value to qualify at 2/7, but another option would be to back Poland in a top-two finish at 5/6. Meanwhile, their odds lengthen dramatically to 50/1 as Euro 2016 winners.
For Poland, a deep run at Euro 2016 is only likely if star striker Robert Lewandowski plays at his world-class level. Thus far, the Bayern Munich player has made 76 appearances and scored 34 goals for his country, making him a solid prospect to finish as top goal scorer at 16/1 with William Hill.
The Portuguese have never won a World Cup or European Championship in their history. Thus far, the closest they came to winning a major title was when they shocked the footballing world by losing 1-0 to Greece at Euro 2004.
For potential Euro 2016 winners, Portugal represent one of the more likely outsiders at 20/1. In group F, they have the talent to overcome the collective challenge of Austria, Hungary and Iceland. They don’t have rewarding odds to qualify at 1/12, but they will be worth 10/11 if they can win the group and then 14/1 for the entire tournament.
On a talent basis, the Portugal squad’s success is contingent on Cristiano Ronaldo staying healthy. If the three-time Ballon d’Or winner is on the pitch, Portugal can go far. From the supporting cast, Pepe provides strength at the back, while João Moutinho leads a young midfield of emerging talents in João Mário, Renato Sanches and William Carvalho.
Wales made history last October by qualifying for their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup. Compared to previous years, qualifying for Euro 2016 was technically simpler after expansion from 16 to 24 teams, but this cannot take away from the quality of Wales’ squad.
Gareth Bale is the undisputed star of the team and fresh off a second Champions League victory with Real Madrid, while Aaron Ramsey improved towards the end of his club season with Arsenal. To progress, however, they will need support from defenders Ashley Williams and Ben Davies, and midfielders Joe Allen and Joe Ledley.
Wales already proved their credibility in qualifying, when they finished just two points back from Belgium in group B. In those match-ups, Wales drew 0-0 at home and then won 1-0 at home. Those results were telling for a team that scored 11 goals and conceded only four in ten games. Fundamentally, this is a team built to win by tight margins.
Chris Coleman’s players are priced third at 11/2 to win group B, with England on 5/6 and Russia on 11/4 at William Hill. Wales are also considered third favourites to qualify at 8/13, which they can achieve by defeating the Russians in their final group game on 20 June 2016. As overall winners, their chances are distant at 66/1.
For all the latest Euro 2016 betting odds, visit William Hill Sports today!