Friday, 20 April 2012

France and a Little Bit of Nick Faldo

By Lee Jaundrell   20/4/12
Euro 2012 is just around the corner, and now is the time to place your bets or rather the one bet. In a few weeks time, odds compilers around the world will turn their attention to the tournament, so place your bets now before they realise what a rick they’ve made. Get on France @ 14/1 while they’re not looking.
“France? Meh!” I hear your cry. Well come with me and lets see if I can persuade you.
Spain are the favourites, they won the last World Cup and also Euro 2008. The team is built around Barcelona, who are quite good at football. So, they are worthy favourites for the tournament. Well I disagree. I love this Spanish team, I backed them 4 years ago to succeed and again 2 years ago, but they won’t see any of my money this time around. There are 2 reasons for this, and I know you can prove anything with stats, but no team has won 3 major international tournaments in a row, ever! The second reason is tiredness. The Spain squad will likely be made up of around 9 players from Barcelona, 4 from Real Madrid, and 6 or 7 from Athletic Bilbao, Valencia and Atletico Madrid. All these teams are in the semi-finals of the Champions League or Europa League. Barcelona and Real are also fighting out a tight, titanic title race, and both are showing signs of fatigue. Most of you will of seen Bilbao play in the Europa League this season, with their high intensity game of pressing and man-marking all over the pitch. This must take it out of the players, the excellent Martinez, Muniain and Llorente must be feeling it now. For the first few months of the season, David Silva was the best player in England, his form has dipped recently, and Juan Mata also appears to be feeling the heat of a long hard season. Throw into the mix David Villa broke his leg in December and Fernando Torres has all but forgotten where the goal is, this makes Spain @ 5/2 a very poor bet.
This current German side is arguably the best they’ve had for years. In particular due to a strong central midfield of Khedira, Schweinsteiger and Ozil, and the goalscoring exploits of Gomez. They have dozens of good young players to choose from, in all positions. The one area where they might struggle is in defence. Experience can be vital, and apart from Lahm, they could struggle. Mertesacker is currently injured (though should recover in good time) and hasn’t pulled up trees at Arsenal this season while Friedrich is in semi-retirement playing for Chicago Fire. Saying that, Germany do have a great chance this summer, they qualified in a stroll, winning 10 from 10, and you just can’t write off the Germans (sorry!). The last friendly match, though, saw an home defeat to France. I’ll say that again, the last friendly match, though, saw an home defeat to France.
Nick Faldo was an excellent golfer, winning several majors, and was very popular with the British public. Every major he played in, you would be guaranteed to see a flood of bets on him to win, no matter what his chances were. He’d be priced up at a low price, which didn’t reflect his actually chances of victory. The money would still come regardless. This is what I like to call ‘The Nick Faldo Factor’. England suffer from The Nick Faldo Factor. Patriotic money keeps the England price lower than it should be, and it always has done. British bookmakers have dominated the world of betting for years, and therefore lead the way with the prices, foreign firms just fall into line. England are currently around 9/1 to win Euro 2012. 

During the Eriksson years, England did actually stand a chance in the tournaments they played in, partly due to some good players, and partly due to there not being an outstanding international team between France 2000 and Spain 2008. Eriksson kept things simple with his England team, he played the best players. If fit you could guarantee the following would play, A.Cole, Ferdinand, Terry, Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, J.Cole, Rooney and Owen. Right back was a bit of an issue, but meh! They weren’t a great team, qualified easily for tournaments, but never had that little bit extra to go all the way, maybe all they needed was a little bit of luck. Now can you name the England team for their first game against France in Euro 2012? Hart in goal, Cole at left back is about as far as I got for certainties. Will Terry and Ferdinand play? Or will Lescott and Cahill start? Centre midfield is actually all over the place, there’ll be no Wilshire, so who starts out of Parker, Barry, Gerrard, Lampard, Carrick or even Scholes? Ashley Young would appear to have dived into the role on the left, but who’ll play on the right? Walcott? And who plays up front? Wellbeck? Sturridge? Or possibly Fraizer Campbell? Andy Carroll is even making a late push. No wonder Harry Redknapp has looked lost over the past few weeks. 
England are 9/1, while France are 14/1. A France side which has been transformed by Laurent Blanc into a united, unbeatable force. They are on a run of 18 matches unbeaten, coming into form at just the right time. Their players are generally fresh, and have some very good, almost unknown players ready to set the world on fire this summer. No one really takes that much notice of French club football, except for maybe Graham Carr the head scout of Newcastle. This French team have a top goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris, every bit as good as Joe Hart, and probably better. There is experience in defence with Evra, Mexes and Sagna in particular. A central midfield which could include Newcastle’s Cabaye, one of the players of the year in England, following a season captaining Lille to the French title, and the new star of French football Yann M’Vila. M’Vila won’t be staying at Rennes this summer, a big money move to one of Europe’s giants awaits. He is being bigged up as being better than Viera. Out wide France can count on Ribery, Nasri and the well rested Malouda. Up front is interesting, firstly there is Benzema, the likely starter, but he is under pressure from this season’s revelation in France, Olivier Giroud with 23 goals from 35 games for unfashionable Montpellier. Throw in players such as Loic Remy, a possible inclusion of Hatem Ben Arfa and the creative midfielder Marvin Martin, and France are looking good for the summer. They are hitting form at the right time, including beating Germany in Germany recently.
England are 9/1, while France are 14/1.
The other major contenders include Holland, who at 7/1 are probably priced correctly, Van Persie will surely be popular for a top goalscorer bet. They were functional during the World Cup, and had Robben. They stand a chance in the summer, but have recently faltered against Sweden and lost 3-0 in Germany. Others appeal more.
Cesare Prandelli is a manager I like, but hasn’t set the world on fire with his Italian side, and recent back to back home defeats to Uruguay and USA have dampened expectations. Italy are likely to be Italy in the Euros. Solid, hard to beat, could improve as the tournament goes on, but will probably come up short.
Spain and Germany are entitled to lead the betting lists, but France are the value @ 14/1. Back it now while no one is looking. 

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