It's almost time for Euro 2012, which means that it is time to find your disposable income and wager it on players and teams to which you have no connection or allegiance, and then yell at scream at the television because that asshole who you knew would screw you over just lost you money. If you're not sure about how this works, just ask the Italians.
Gambling is as much figuring out what won't happen as figuring out what will happen. Let's mark down the things that will not happen:
- Germany, Netherlands and Portugal will not all make the semifinals, seeing as how they are in the same group.
- As great as Lionel Messi is, he will not win Euro 2012 Player of the Tournament. Not being European proves to be the only thing that can stop the Argentinian from making fools of would-be defenders.
- Shakira will not play in the tournament's opening concert. We are all worse off for it.
So where should the money go? Wherever your heart desires, of course, but just in case your heart is too drunk on football love (or just drunk) to decide, these bets will also suffice.
Spain And Germany Vs. The Field, 3/2
Might as well start with the two favorites, and overwhelming ones at that. The odds-on the third favorite, the Netherlands, are more than two times worse as Spain and Germany, and for good reason. Spain are hoping to be the first team to ever win three straight major tournaments, having won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, and Germany are gunning for their fourth Euro title, which would be two more than any other country. The amount of talent that the two countries have is mind-boggling and both could probably qualify for Euro and challenge for a spot in the knockout stages with their second XI.
Spain are the tournament favorites at 13/5 and Germany are right behind them at 3/1, but why bet on either? The other is too good to make it a good bet, plus there are the 14 other teams in contention. If you could take Spain and Germany or the field, which are you taking? With the two hosts, Poland and Ukraine, not the least bit threatening, the answer has to be Spain and Germany. And odds!
Number Of Models Linked To Cristiano Ronaldo, Over 7.5
See Cristiano Ronaldo. See Cristiano Ronaldo with model girlfriend. See Cristiano Ronaldo. See Cristiano Ronaldo with model girlfriend. See Cristiano Ronaldo. See Cristiano Ronaldo with model girlfriend.
Not that anyone is judging him (seriously, high five*), but being linked to more than two models per week is a cakewalk for Cristiano. The bookies botched this one.
* Maybe with a glove.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic To Lead Tournament In Goals, 40/1
Guys. GUYS! Zlatan Ibrahimovic is 40/1 to lead the tournament in goals. One of the best strikers in the world, playing in front of a good midfield, who have a good chance to go deep in the tournament, is 40/1 to lead Euro in goals. Robert Lewandowski, playing on an awful Poland team, and Giampaolo Pazzini, playing for a scandal-ridden Italy team, are TWO TIMES better bets, which makes sense because ... seriously, bet Ibra.
Total Spent On Bribes To Public Officials, Over €2.3 Billion
Ukraine and Poland will feel ashamed if they let this number dip below what they spent on stadiums, but this one is a real wild card. Whatever the total comes to, it will certainly be a number big enough to make you feel rich and Mark Zuckerberg feel poor.
Sweden, 66/1, And Croatia, 40/1, To Win
Somewhere out there are bookies staring at the odds being offered on Sweden and Croatia and smacking themselves. Teams with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Luka Modric , one of which is ranked eighth in the world, can turn $100 into $6,600 or $4,000? That's a real thing and they will pay you in real money (but make sure the Euro is still real money by the end of the tournament if that is your currency of choice).
Sweden are obviously going to be very dependent on Ibrahimovic, but they also have Johan Elmander up top, both of whom could give their opponents some serious trouble. And those opponents are why the Swedes are such a good bet.
Ukraine, being the hosts will be tough, but if they get through that then things really open up. A Wayne Rooney-less England cannot exploit Sweden's shaky defense, and by the time Sweden play France they can have already qualified for the knockout stages. Then in the Round of 16 they will ask Spain, who are starting Sergio Ramos in defense, to deal withIbrahimovic? There they are into the semifinals and rolling, plus they have Kim Kallstrom and Anders Svensson in defense in the midfield, who are no joke. Hey there, Sweden!
As flawed as the FIFA world rankings are, Croatia are ranked eighth in the world and it's not a complete fluke. Croatia have their talisman in Luka Modric to go along with the experienced Darijo Srna and Ivan Perisic in the midfield. Had Ivica Olic not gotten hurt they would have a really dangerous attack, but Mario Mandzukic and Nikica Jelalvic give them more than enough up front. As a defender, would you want to see Modric spraying balls around to those players?
With Italy reeling, Group C looks a lot less imposing now and the Croats could very well take three points from Ireland and Italy to book a spot in the knockout stages before they even have to play Spain. Also, their checkered jerseys are marvelous.
Greece, Under 2.5 Goals
Their group is awful and as such there is a reasonable chance they advance to the knockout stages as a result. On the flip side, see every match they have ever played ... ever.
Times Announcers Say "Anton Ferdinand", Over 10.5
Who would have thought six years ago that Anton Ferdinand would be a hotter topic for the English at a major tournament than WAG's? Yet here we are.
Rio Ferdinand and his representation haven't helped anyone by bringing up his exclusion time and time again, then complaining that his being left of the team having nothing to do with football. Would he have preferred that Roy Hodgson say, "Rio, we're not going to take you to Euro. You're just not very good."?
Also not helping matters is that John Terry is an asshole.
Spain To Lead Tournament In Passes To Goals Ratio, 1/1
It sure is a good thing that Spain plays such an exciting, attacking style of football. Nothing beats seeing a team pass ... and pass ... and pass then boom! Out of nowhere they score a goal! Then they pass until the referee blows the final whistle.
Spain are incredibly good and are the best team in the world for a reason, but they are not particularly exciting. They play like Barcelona, which is to be expected considering who plays in their midfield, but they lack Messi and without Messi, how exciting is Barcelona?
In the 2010 World Cup, Spain were held without a goal by Switzerland, scored more than one goal just once and won their four knockout stage matches all by 1-0 score lines. It is not as if they were held off by brilliant goalkeeper, vision impaired referees or the worst luck either. Spain are just content to knock it around, which is probably smart considering they will have to play Ramos in the center of defense so keeping the ball away from the other team is a good idea.
It will be a lot of passing, not much attacking and three or four naps per 90 minutes all the way to the final. If you can get even money on 492,000 passes completed and one goal per match, THROW DOWN ALL OF THE MONIES!
Times Your Friend Will Confuse Real Football And FIFA, Over 12
Seriously, you can't just press circle. That's not how things work. Also, you cannot play as Barcelona. You can drink more with two free hands, though.
Please gamble responsibly. It is not always the smartest thing to do. (But it is always the most fun)