Tipster Dave Tindall looks for more profits on the big weekend games in Euro 2012
By Dave Tindall. Last Updated: June 22, 2012 1:20pm
Steve Gerrard: England's captain can help his side sneak into the semis
There's a common perception that England greatly increased their chances of reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2012 by avoiding Spain. But history says Italy are just about the most troublesome opponents they could have been paired against. The Italians have only been knocked out of the quarter-finals twice in nine appearances at major championships and both those were on penalties. And this current Italian side are unbeaten in 13 competitive games under Cesare Prandelli, that tally consisting of nine wins and two draws. Add in the fact that England have beaten Italy just once in the last nine meetings and this is going to be a hugely tough challenge for Roy Hodgson's men. Sky Bet can't settle on a favourite and offer both teams at 17/10 to win in 90 minutes while the draw is 21/10. And you can't really argue with that. Both teams have their strengths but neither look world-beaters so a stalemate looks more than likely. As for some other markets, I was going to back England at 11/10 to score the game's first goal given that they managed that in all three group games. Problem is, Italy did exactly the same! In the goalscorer markets, Manchester United's Wayne Rooney is the market leader at 5/1 to score the opener with Manchester City's Mario Balotelli 13/2 second favourite. Sky Bet go 7/1 that both find the net. However, I'm going to roll the dice and go for John Terry to get the game's first goal at 28/1. Steven Gerrard's delivery has been superb so far and Terry, who has already had three efforts on goal in the tournament, can nod one in. As for the eventual outcome, the luck certainly seems to be going England's way so far so how about backing the ultimate sign of a change in fortunes and taking them at 10/1 to go through on penalties. With Joe Hart in goal, that may not look as daft as it first appears and Italy have lost five of their seven shootouts in major championships.
Spain have never won a competitive game versus France but Sky Bet expect that to change on Saturday night. Vicente Del Bosque's World and European champions are 4/5 to win the game (in 90 minutes) and 2/5 to progress to the semis. France are 7/2 to prevail in regulation time and 15/8 to qualify. In truth, both haven't looked as strong as we'd been led to believe and France managed just four points out of nine in the group phase. Spain swept aside the Republic of Ireland but looked short of ideas against Croatia and also struggled to break down Italy. True, the French defence has looked suspect to say the least but they're likely to show much more focus in this one and, just as with England v Italy the following day, I expect it to be tight. Taking into the account the final of 2008 and World Cup 2010, Spain's 90-minute results in the knockout phases have been 1-0, 1-0, 1-0, 1-0 and 0-0 (the World Cup final against Holland which they went on to win, you guessed it, 1-0). So, having also edged out Croatia by a single goal in their last group match, their relentless possession game which can often create relatively few chances can produce yet another 1-0 against France. Sky Bet offer that scoreline at 9/2. If you want to really roll the dice, take the 25/1 about Sergio Ramos scoring the first goal. Despite all their intricate football in open play, Spain's tactic from corners basically appears to be trying to find the head of the Real Madrid defender. Headed goals have been a feature of this tournament so maybe Ramos and Terry can do us a big, big favour.
Going into the final three quarter-finals of Euro 2012, Germany and Spain remain the clear favourites at 11/5 and 5/2 respectively. Portugal have been cut to 5/1 after their last eight victory over the Czech Republic, with England and Italy 8/1. Sky Bet also offered: 11/1 France and 50/1 Greece. Our pre-tournament bet of Germany beating Spain in the final looks a good one now as that outcome has been cut from 14/1 to just 11/2. England to beat Spain in the final is 20/1 while it's 12/1 that Roy Hodgson's men lose to the Spanish in the showpiece game. Sky Bet also have odds for England's stage of elimination and go 10/11 that they'll lose in the quarters, 2/1 in the semis and 7/1 that they're beaten in the final. Finally, after his winner in the quarter-final against the Czechs made him joint top-scorer with three goals, Cristiano Ronaldo is 11/5 to win the Golden Boot. Germany's Mario Gomez, who also has three, is the 6/4 favourite.
Despite being one of the stars of the US Tour in 2011, Webb Simpson was sent off a virtually unbacked 90/1 chance in the US Open. Modest form this season and a feeling that he wasn't a US Open type meant punters gave him the swerve but, looking back, that was a massive price for a player of his talent. Simpson was also the ninth new major champion in succession and had never really contended in one before so the idea that past experience is a big help in such situations is nonsense. Just ask previous US Open champions Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell, who started the final round at Olympic Club in pole position but couldn't get the job done. Simpson is set to miss the Open Championship as his wife is expecting their second baby so how do Sky Bet price up next month's showdown at Royal Lytham? Tiger Woods, joint halfway leader in the US Open but poor over the weekend, is 7/1 favourite ahead of 11/1 Lee Westwood, 12/1 Rory McIlroy and 14/1 Luke Donald. Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia are next at 25s while Padraig Harrington, after his near-miss in the US Open, has been cut to 28/1 from 40s. Simpson is also now 10/1 to win the US Money List behind 7/2 favourite Woods, 9/2 Jason Dufner and 13/2 McIlroy.
Bets still running:
Germany to win Euro 2012 at 3/1
Germany to beat Spain in final at 14/1
Karim Benzema Golden Boot/France win Euro 2012 at 25/1
Karim Benzema to win Golden Boot at 10/1
David Silva to win Golden Boot at 33/1
Ashley Young to be England's top scorer at 11/2