Football fans are in for a thrilling and exciting summer. Domestic league and cup competitions in all major European footballing countries will soon be over, as will the Champions League and Europa League. However, 2016 is a Euro year and this year, for the first time, the European Championship will feature 24 teams. Not only will we enjoy live football action over the summer, with 70 matches to be played throughout France in June and July, but also, for betting pundits it is a great chance to place a couple of bets. If you feel that June is too far away, you might want to place a wager on something else in the meantime.
A lot has changed
The European Championship, organised by UEFA, will be hosted in France for the third time ever. No other nation has hosted the European Championship more than twice. The first Euro final, held in 1960, was also hosted by France. That match was played at the Parc des Princes in Paris and the Soviet Union defeated Yugoslavia 2 to 1 after extra time. The winning goal was scored by Viktor Ponedelnik in the 113th minute.
During the first 5 competitions in the period 1960-1976 only 4 teams participated in the final tournament. Later, in 1980 in Italy the number was increased to 8 and the 1996 Championship in England saw 16 participants. This year, for the first time, the European Championship will feature 24 teams.
Some of the favourites
More teams means more matches, more excitement and greater unpredictability, but there are, of course, teams which are considered to be favourites. One obvious favourite is current World Champion – Germany, who are still considered to be the strongest team at the moment. Moreover, Germany are the most successful nation when it comes to the Euro Championship, alongside Spain, having won 3 tournaments so far. Speaking of Spain, they are the current European Champions and despite their fiasco at the 2014 World Cup, the Red Fury still remains one of the favourites. We must not forget England, despite the fact that they have never managed to win the European Championship. Their perfect run in the qualifiers certainly shows that this young and energetic squad means business. And of course, there is Belgium – the country which currently leads FIFA’s World Rankings.
History favours France
France are the most obvious favourite for this European Championship and not only because it is hosted in France, although the home advantage will be a huge boost for Didier Deschamps and his men. The current squad of the Tri-Colours includes mature players, players who have proven their quality throughout the years such as: Bacary Sagna, Laurent Koscielny and Yohan Cabaye, but also immensely talented youngsters such as Rapha?l Varane, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.
Although France didn’t manage to win that first European Championship, despite being host nation, led by the legendary Michel Platini, they managed to win in 1980, the second time it was held in France. 16 years later, France managed to win again, at the Championship held in Netherlands and Belgium. And that was 16 years ago. Some may not believe in coincidences, but this is not just a mere coincidence. History often repeats itself and right now, everything is in France’s favour. All they need to do is step up, play their best and they just might win and give home fans something to cheer for. Unsurprisingly, France is also considered a top favourite, alongside Germany, if we consider the odds offered by leading online bookies.