I agree with the view that Germany have been the best team in the tournament. They overcame Portugal 1-0, outplayed Holland (2-1) and rode their luck but still won against Denmark (2-1). In the quarter-finals, with what you could call an under-strength Starting XI, they were much better than Greece (4-2). Germany are the only semi-finalist to have won all four games en route to the last four, and Opta point out they go into this match on a 15-game winning run, an all-time German record.
By reaching the semi-finals, Italy have exceeded most people's expectations. A draw is probably the best they can hope for here. That's been the outcome in three of their four matches to date, which merely underlines their lack of quality in front of goal. Whereas Germany have scored...
Portugal's results appear to be welded to the performances of Cristiano Ronaldo. After a quiet start to Euro 2012, the captain has scored three goals in two matches and the team has started to look like plausible tournament winners.
Portugal beat their neighbours 4-0 in a friendly at the end of 2010, but that was a while ago now and Spain gave the impression that the result of that game mattered less to them than it did their local rivals.
That's not the case here. Spain will be writ large in the history books if they win this match and one more at the weekend. As Opta have noticed, the European and world champions have 17 wins from their most recent 18 competitive games, so there seems to be value in backing them to win in 90 minutes at 2.02.
There is a concern,...
[b]There's not been a 0-0 at the tournament yet but Dave Farrar fancies France to make life very difficult for Spain on Saturday evening...[/b]
Having struggled a little in their 1-1 draw with Italy in their opening game of Euro 2012, the World and European champions Spain face their second supposedly top-class test of the tournament, and there's a question about the state of mind of the French players going into the match. There are stories of a huge row in the squad after that insipid performance against Sweden, and if France are anything but fully tuned up for this game then they could be in for a beating. Laurent Blanc's right hand man Alain Boghossian has said that the row was the kind of thing that happens "between a couple" and that we shouldn't read anything into it. You can...
[b]Almost every Opta trend points to a Germany victory, but there are reasons to believe that Greece will keep things respectable...[/b]
[b]Greece have met Germany eight times before this meeting, but are yet to win[/b] (D3 L5)
This stat won't provoke much surprise given that Germany almost always have the superior players, and in fact could be flipped to suggest that it is fairly impressive that Greece have drawn almost half of their meetings with the most successful side in European Championship history, including three of the last five. They haven't lost any of the last seven by a margin of more than two goals, and have trailed at the break in only one of the last five, so though defeat is being treated as an inevitability, a reasonable resistance should perhaps be expected.
[b]The Three Lions will face a hostile crowd at the Donbass Arena, but the on-field opposition is not nearly as intimidating and Tobias Gourlay believes Roy Hodgson will notch a second consecutive victory.[/b]
Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Live On: ITV
This is a must-win game for Ukraine if they are not to emulate the ignominy of Austria and Switzerland four years ago and join Poland on the sidelines of their own tournament.
The market doesn't think they can do it and makes England the favourites to take three points and give themselves the best possible chance of finishing above France and thus - probably - avoiding tournament favourites Spain in the quarter-finals.
Wayne Rooney is available for the Three Lions after serving a two-match suspension and ready to...
Most bettors would predict a comfortable victory for the reigning European champions, and it's anything but a surprise to see the market agrees with them. Spain's price of 1.27 will put off plenty of people but on the evidence of the group's opening games it's difficult to see anything other than a victory for Vicente del Bosque's side.
The Spanish may have been a little more sluggish than expected against Italy (1-1) but it was the Republic of Ireland's defending against Croatia that will have set alarm bells ringing (you can see some analysis of that defeat here). Giovanni Trapattoni's side handled aerial balls into the box poorly and also struggled against some of Croatia's clever movement in attacking areas, so Spain ought to find more time and space in and around...
Germany's performance against Portugal might not have satisfied those who backed them to win Euro 2012, but the result was a good one and the Mannschaft are in a strong position in Group B.
The position is so strong, in fact, that Joachim Low will surely consider launching an assault of Holland's jugular in Kharkiv. The reward for victory over the Dutch is the likely elimination of a serious rival. The risk of defeat is relatively small: there would be another chance to secure qualification in the third group game with Denmark.
Germany overran Portugal in midfield and it was only their own deficient finishing that stopped them scoring more than once. You could say the same of Holland - the match with Denmark was theirs to win - but Germany are set up to thrive...
If you'd bet on this game several months ago, France would have been a real value selection. There was a time when les Bleus were underdogs, which was baffling considering their superior individual talent and the solid if unspectacular collective progress made under Laurent Blanc during the qualifiers.
Unfortunately, the market has straightened itself out. France are now favourites, with the match odds looking right on the eve of the game. The 2.56 on Karim Benzema and co. will draw in plenty of punters, but I'd recommend the safety net of 0&-0.5 on the Asian handicap (2.11) or DRAW NO BET (1.73).
[u]Over/Under 2.5 Goals[/u]
The consensus is Roy Hodgson will make England difficult to beat, and both his personal track record as a coach and the players available...
The market probably has this about right. Russia deserve respect because of their performance at Euro 2008 and the spine of that team is still around. Their recent performance against Italy has seen their price come in a little over the past few days but 2.6 to top the group is still a decent one for a team that on paper probably has the best balance as well as an experienced manager. With Roman Pavlyuchenko, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Aleksandr Kerzhakov in the squad, they probably have the best attack too.
I don't particularly like the chances of the Czech Republic, though I see Jonathan Wilson does. Petr Cech may be worth half a goal a game on current form but they'll be looking to Tomas Rosicky to be talisman and chief goal creator and given what we saw of him for the...
After a hugely entertaining year, right across Europe, it's left to the continental finals to round off the season in style.
And with 31 matches in just 24 days, there's every chance Poland & Ukraine will deliver a suitable finale to the footballing calendar.
So whilst pundits and punters alike wait for what promises to be a captivating competition, we're looking at three markets which will surely provide the required level of drama in the upcoming European Championships.
Penalty shoot-outs, hat-tricks and sendings off.
Now when assessing the data, it's important to remember the Euros changed in 1996 to their current four-group, 16-team format (formerly just eight nations contested the finals). Therefore, we must gravitate towards the recent renewals of the competition for the...