Germany were the automatic favourites for betting Euro 2016 following their World Cup triumph. However, their form has taken a definite dip since their success in Brazil while France and Spain are starting to look like serious challengers.
France were European champions in 1984 and 2000 and there is a growing belief that they can win it for a third time in 2016.
Les Bleus were as low as 25th in the FIFA World Rankings in September 2013 but had moved up to seventh place by November 2014, only one place behind Brazil. This still leaves them behind Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands in terms of Euro 2016 but they are arguably the most progressive team of the four at present.
Having automatically qualified as hosts, they have not faced the battle for qualification and have time to build on their World Cup experience.
Whatever you say about Germany, there is no arguing with their consistency. They have not been ranked lower than six in the world since 2000 and are currently in pole position after their World Cup win in Brazil.
Perhaps expectations were raised by that remarkable 7-1 win over the hosts but they have looked surprisingly vulnerable since that match. They struggled to win a disappointing final and were unimpressive in their early group matches.
Spain’s early exit from the World Cup was seen by many as the end of an era. They were reigning World and European champions at that time but they had plummeted to tenth in the world by November 2014.
The arrival of Diego Costa and Cesc Febregas at Premiership side Chelsea seems to have triggered a revival in the fortunes of both the Blues and the Spanish National side.
Although Belgium made it to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, they failed to show the quality or the flair that many pundits had predicted. Nonetheless, they are essentially still a young team with a “Golden generation” of talented players.
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard did not play with his usual freedom in Brazil but remains one of the most exciting young talents in world football. With Thibaut Courtois establishing himself as number one choice at Stamford Bridge and the likes of Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku and Adnan Januzaj all playing regularly in the Premier League, Belgium are a rising force in world football.
The Italians were desperately unlucky to lose to Uruguay in the World Cup and are edging their way back into the higher echelons of world football. They have only won the European Championship once previously back in 1968 but were beaten finalists in 2000 and 2012, losing to France on both occasions.
The Dutch won widespread acclaim for their performances in Brazil, particularly when destroying Spain in the group stages.
Arjen Robben was the player who did most of the damage to opposing defences and he is certain to play a pivotal role at Euro 2016. However, they must first qualify and they are making heavy weather of it with group stage defeats against the Czech Republic and Iceland. There is also a concern that Robin van Persie is coming towards the end of his International career with no obvious replacement on the horizon.
England had slumped to a World Ranking of twenty by October 2014, their lowest since 1996. Roy Hodgson’s team travelled to Brazil with low expectations but it was still bitterly disappointing to see them emerge with just one point from their group.
They have got off to a storming start in their qualifying group with four consecutive victories and qualification already seems assured. Wayne Rooney celebrated his 100th cap with a goal in the 3-1 win over Slovenia while Danny Welbeck scored twice to further cement his position as leading striker.
The big question is whether or not they can compete against the stronger teams. They were given a particularly favourable draw and are unlikely to face a proper test until the start of Euro 2016.
If you fancy any team outside the top seven, you can have odds of 25-1 or bigger. That brings in Portugal who are often regarded as a possible surprise package but rely too heavily on Cristiano Ronaldo. Croatia and Russia are priced at 40-1 with Denmark and Switzerland at 80-1. Poland are a top priced 125-1 while optimistic Scottish supporters can have 200-1 about Gordon Strachan’s men producing the biggest shock in the tournament’s history.