Euro 2016 Favourites and Not So Favourites
With the much antipipated and ultra-hyped Euro 2016 just days away, we thought it would be a good time to look at the possible winners and losers based on what the bookies, and Ladbrokes in particular, are thinking.
However, bear in mind before taking this too literally, that almost all the bookies in Britain were turned over rather neatly by Leicester City when they were confirmed to be champions of the 2015-16 Premier League season just over a month ago on 2 May 2016. The bookies are still reeling – will the Euros give them some payback or will they suffer even more footballing pain?
For the first time, the European Championships will be contested by 24 teams an expansion from the traditional 16 teams that's been in place since 1996.
The Euros kick-off at 9pm in the Stade de France, Saint-Denis on the 10th June when France, the hosts, take on Romania.
Currently France are sitting atop the bookies tables as 3 to 1 favourites to lift the trophy, so they've be going into the first game with confidence and the roar of a home crowd behind them.
Second favourites are Germany at 4 to 1 and it's going to take a lot to beat the strong organisation of this German team, current World Cup Champions. Certainly the one to beat if France have any chance of lifting the trophy as the bookies expect.
Following on from the mighty Germany is Spain at 11 to 2, close odds behind the Germans and a team that have become more robust in their playing abilities over the past months having had a slightly rough spell a year or two ago.
Next is England at 8 to 1 and although there have been a few controversial picks making up the English team, the team are strong and likely to do as well as they have in any major competition in the last few years. One to watch and certainly good odds for any English follower wanting to punt a quid or two on their team. Place your English bet now to take advantage of the odds on offer.
Belgium are 5th in the table of favourites at 11 to 1 which is good odds for a team that could do pretty well if the ball lands right for them although it's going to be a tough one to put your money on unless you're an ardent fan. However, a good return for your money, especially if you think the Belgians can pull it off.
Looking at the England team in particular, they're at 5/6 to come top of the group. Group B also sports Russia, Wales and Slovakia. Russia could well give the English team a run for their money too. It's not worth putting a punt on them to go through to the next round though as at 1 to 11, there isn't a return worth trying for.
Wales are probably a better bet for the savvy punter with a tough call 5 to 1 to take the group but a nicely placed 8 to 13 to see them through to the next round. Can Chris Coleman add to his tally of wins and take Wales through? He's led his team to their first tournament qualification since 1958 so, if nothing else, they should be inspred to do well.
There are a myriad of other selections where you can bet you cash on Euro 2016. These are just a few to whet your appetite, you'll also get in-play betting when the tournament kicks off in ernest.
Whoever takes the coveted title, it's going to be a fuelled month of premium football until the final on 10th July. Looking forward to it. Now, where's that betting slip?
Celtic lose Matthews, but bid for Ciftci
SPL champions Celtic have sold Welsh international full-back Adam Matthews to Sunderland for £2million. The 23-year-old right-back has signed a four-year contract with the Black Cats, after spending four years with the Hoops.
Matthews joined Celtic in 2011 from home-town club Cardiff and went on to make 100 appearances for the Glasgow giants. During his time with the Hoops he picked-up four SPL title winning medals.
The full-back, who has 12 caps for Wales, had just a year left on his contract and was reportedly keen to chance his hand in the Premier League.
Meanwhile while Matthews leaves Parkhead, the Hoops are attempting to secure the signature of Dundee United striker Nadir Ciftci. Ronny Delia’s men have already seen an offer of around £900,000 turned down by the Terrors.
The Turkish-born striker impressed last season scoring 16 goals and his club have accepted an offer from Championship Wigan for the 23-year-old. However, it appears that Ciftci has turned down a move to the third tier of English football and is flattered by the interest from Celtic.
It is believed that Dundee United are willing to sell the striker, but are not willing to sell him for any less than £1.5million.
The SPL champions will be hoping to add Ciftci to the summer signings of Dedryck Boyata and Sandy Janko ahead of their Champions League qualifier against Stjarnan next Wednesday.
Celtic’s arch-rivals Rangers have strengthened their goalkeeping options by signing Wes Foderingham on a free transfer, after the 24-year-olds contract with Swindon expired. The former-Fulham ‘keeper has signed a four-year deal at Ibrox.
Elsewhere Dundee have completed the signing of midfielder Nick Ross from Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The 23-year-old has moved to Dundee as a free agent and will be looking to hold down a regular first team place at Dens Park, something he could not manage at the cup holders last season.
Another player to leave Inverness is striker Marley Watkins, who has joined Barnsley on a two-year contract after turning a new deal in the Highlands. The 24-year-old scored nine goals last season, including the opening goal in Inverness’ 2-1 Scottish Cup final win over Falkirk.
There is better news for the Scottish Cup winners though with 22-year-old defender Danny Devine agreeing terms on a new one-year deal with Caley.
Hamilton have completed the free transfer of Northern Irish midfielder Chris Turner from Dumbarton. The 28-year-old had previously enjoyed spells with the likes of Shamrock Rovers, Sligo Rovers and Dundalk.
Kilmarnock have followed-up the re-signing of striker Kris Boyd by signing another former-Rangers player in full-back Steven Smith. The 29-year-old has agreed a three-year deal with Killie after his contract with Rangers expired.
Motherwell have strengthened their squad with the signings of striker Lewis Moult and defender Louis Lang. Moult has arrived from Welsh club Wrexham for an undisclosed fee, while Laing has joined on a permanent basis from Nottingham Forest, after spending time at Fir Park on-loan last season.
The transfer window is officially open and it is now time for clubs all over Europe to look at strengthening their squads. Premier League clubs are already busy doing just that.
One of the clubs looking to strengthen their squad is Tottenham. Spurs currently have a fight on their hands to sign Atletico Madrid centre-back Toby Alderweireld. The Belgian centre-back was on-loan at Southampton last season and the Saints want to sign the former-Ajax defender on permanent deal, with a £6.8million fee agreed prior to the loan switch.
However, it seems the player has yet to decide on his next move. Atletico will have to pay Southampton £1.5million to buy the defender out of the previous agreement and have yet to do so. That means if Atletico sell to another club then the club from the south coast may take legal action against Los Rojiblancos.
In a less complicated deal Tottenham midfielder Etienne Capoue has joined newly-promoted Watford for a club-record fee believed to be around £6million. The France international has signed a four-year deal with the Hornets. Fellow Spurs midfielder Benjamin Stambouli is also being linked with a move to Vicarage Road.
One midfielder who will not be appearing in the Premier League next season is Portuguese international Nani, after the 28-year-old completed a move to Turkish giants Fenerbahce for a reported fee of around £4.5million. The winger has signed a three-year-deal with the club from the Turkish capital.
According to Sky Sports, Newcastle United could be set to make a big money bid for PSV Eindhoven midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum. The 24-year-old is highly-rated and has already attracted an official bid from Russian outfit Zenit St Petersburg.
Newcastle have yet to strengthen their squad since former-England boss Steve McClaren took over as boss last month. However, the Magpies are expected to be busy in the transfer market this summer.
Liverpool’s Italian striker Fabio Borini could be set for a return to his homeland with various reports claiming that the Reds have accepted an undisclosed offer for the forward from Lazio. The 24-year-old has struggled to establish himself as first regular at Anfield since his 2012 arrival from Roma.
Another forward who is being linked with a move is Barcelona’s Pedro. The Spanish international’s representatives have reportedly opened talks with Premier League Arsenal. The 27-year-old struggled for first team football last season with the European champions, as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar scored over 120 goals between them.
It seems the big guns are out to sign Stoke ‘keeper Asmir Begovic this summer. Premier League champions Chelsea were being linked with a bid for the Bosnian and now Manchester United are reported to be looking at signing the 28-year-old.
United may need a new ‘keeper as their current number one David de Gea is still being linked with a move away from the club. Spanish giants Real Madrid are also still the favourites to sign the former-Atletico Madrid star. However, it seems that the Spanish club are not willing to meet United’s valuation of the ‘keeper.