Lee Davy takes a look at the odds for the Euro 2016 and puts his money on England to win their first title since 1966 coupled with a Harry Kane Golden Boot.
“I have something for you,” Says my Mum before heading into the house and returning with an A4 sized magazine thing.
“It’s a sticker book,” I reply.
“Yeah, I know.”
“Mum, I’m 41.”
“Yeah, I know that as well.”
And so, here I am, aged 41, and I have just returned from the Co-op where I have bought 10 packets of stickers at 50p per pop. The smell takes me back to my youth, and the Panini logo of the jouster uses his lance to pierce the steel surrounding my childlike heart.
I rip open a packet. I can see the silver sheen of the Iceland national team logo. My mind races back to the schoolyard. My doublers are tied tight with an elastic band. My silver stickers are at the front. I can still see them; feel them; smell them. Then came my 10 copies of Steve McMahon. I could never get rid of Steve.
I am England. There was a time when everything came to a standstill so I could watch an England match. I’m not so hardcore these days – age has seen to that. However, I will be watching them compete against Russia on Saturday night.
Checking through the odds comparison site EasyOdds, I notice that most bookmakers have England as the favourites at 10/11, and there is a reason for optimism over the Three Lions chances.
Despite having won nothing but the inside of a bagel since 1966, there are some signs that England might have what it takes to take this one down. They were the only side to come through their qualifying group with 10 wins out of 10, scoring 31 times and only conceding three. Blink and you think you are looking at stats for Brazil.
Despite their pre-qualifying form and winning their last three friendly games England are the fourth favourites behind France, Germany, and Spain with the best price of 10.00 on the Betfair and Betdaq exchanges. I think that’s a great bet. So why don’t the bookies believe that we are any better than the three usual suspects?
France host the event and the hosts historically do well. Even England, who hosted the event in 1996, would have won the bloody thing if Gazza hadn’t missed the ball from two yards out during the ‘Golden Goal.’ EasyOdds shows that most bookmakers have them at 3/1. Their form is good. They go into the Euro’s after winning four friendlies on the bounce, but they haven’t played a competitive match for donkeys years. That said, only England have beaten them in the past 11 internationals, and they have won 10 of them. They will run deep, but I don’t think they have the class to go all the way.
The second favourites are Germany. EasyOdds shows that most bookmakers have them at 4/1. The smart money is always on the World Champions because if there is a single international side who has found the winning elixir it’s the Germans. They win everything. And it’s that mentality that England don’t have that sees them sitting as fourth favourites. However, when I look at the squad, I don’t see the youth and firepower needed to get them over the finishing line.
The third favourites are Spain with EasyOdds showing most bookmakers offering 5/1 for a third Spanish European Championships win on the trot. No side had ever defended the title until Spain did so in 2012 humiliating the Italians in the process, and that means no team has ever won it three times on the trot. Spain is good, but they aren’t that good.
So do I go with my heart or with my head?
In 1992, I cried my eyes out when Denmark beat the Germans 2-0 to create the footballing upset of my lifetime. I thought that stunning achievement would never be matched. Then I cried again when Greece beat Portugal 1-0, on their home turf no less, to create an even bigger upset than the Danes.
For an Englishman, it’s been an incredible year for the underdog. So many punters managed to afford a bottle of champagne or two after getting odds of 5,000-1 for Leicester City to win the Premier League. It’s in the air. Upset. I can smell it. And for that reason I am going to put my money on the underdog.
I am not going all gung-ho and splashing my money on Albania and Northern Ireland at 500/1. Instead, I am going to go for England. Although they are one of the strongest sides on paper, their lack of winning mentality, and any notable silverware in decades, means, hardly anyone thinks they will do it.
And the reason they will win lies in their forward line. When I look across the entire breadth of squads, nobody can match England for attacking flair and firepower. Kyle Walker and Danny Rose bomb forward from the back. The midfield trio of Wayne Rooney, Dele Alli, and Jack Wilshere hold the keys, and Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy have what it takes to unlock any defence.
Kane is 14/1 to end the championships with the Golden Boot. I think he is the best No. 9 in the business, and if I were a betting man I would have a double on England to win and Kane to be the top goalscorer.
I can’t wait for the action to kick off on Friday when the hosts France take on Romania. In the meantime, I need to figure out how a 41-year old can sneak into the school playground so I can get rid of some of my doublers.