Euro 2012 is upon us and international fever is beginning to reach fever pitch. The established media are backing cup holders Spain to be the first team to retain the trophy. Personally I don’t feel Spain will win again without an established goal scorer like David Villa. I feel this year could emulate 2004 with an unfancied winner going all the way.
With this in mind I thought I would throw out my wildcard picks for glory
Sky bet Odds 80-1
Ireland haven’t been in a major international tournament since their heroic display in Japan & Korea in 2002. The international side has suffered ten years of hurt, peaking in Paris when a Henry handball blocked their path to the World Cup in South Africa. Trappatoni has put together a team full of grit, steel, and the Lethal goal threat of the Talismatic Robbie Keane. The team is choc full of Premier league experience and recognisable names who work hard for their respective teams
The LA Galaxy Striker is Irelands all time top goal scorer and a hero to the Irish. Captain to the national side he exudes all the qualities of the national team. In recent times he has lost a yard or two of pace but combines clinical finishing with excellent vision
Derry born left winger James McClean, has had an amazing first season in the premier league thanks to Martin O’Neil’s influence. He is very left footed and a touch predictable but is very positive going forward and has an eye for a cross and a goal. One of the more talented youngsters in the league
I think its vital Ireland get off to a good start, they have nothing to fear from the big sides as there is no expectations. Ireland can be confident in their own ability, they are unbeaten in 14 games and will let teams know they have been in a game. They can rely on a fantastic keeper if they get into a penalty situation (That’s if Shay Given recovers) and are not known for leaking goals. A result against Spain would be a big statement of intent and getting out of the group would be an achievement in itself.
Sky bet odds 66-1
A team often overlooked and never mentioned in the press as contenders in the championship. You only have to look at their Qualification campaign to know that anything is possible with this Swedish team. Clinching the best Runner up position thanks to their attacking flair, and fortress like performances in Stockholm Sweden were the third highest goal scorers in qualification. Goals win tournaments and this Swedish team is capable of taking a scalp or two.
A lot of people will look at Ibrahimovic as Sweden’s top player. I find the player far too enigmatic to be counted on so my star man is Kim Kallstrom. Kim recycles the ball well in midfield and has been instrumental in making this national team tick. Ibrahimovic may score the majority of goals but it will be from service provided by Kim Kallstrom.
Arsenal Alumni, Sebastian Larrson is currently plying his trade for Sunderland and is a regular in goal of the month competitions. He was amongst the top five in assists in the qualifying campaign and has the capacity to step up from mid table sides after a good campaign. Success for Sweden will inevitably involve utilising his range of crossing and shooting to its full potential.
I think Sweden have a real shot to make a splash at this tournament. They have thrown off the shackles of their traditionally defensive mentality, to embrace this exciting, fluid positivity. Their Group is ripe for the taking with England a possible fatality for them to progress. Their last qualifying game saw them beat Holland 3-2, they have the quality there to top the group, consistency is the real question?
Sky bet odds 20-1
The article that inspired my look at the dark horses backed Russia, and I have to agree with @richiecarville. Russia could be the most sensible use of your 20 quid bet. I could go into graphic detail on Russia but Richie’s scout report is more detailed than I could possibly hope to put together. Please visit the link below for a breakdown of Russia’s chances
Of course you could always ignore both of us and bet on Spain but where’s your sense of adventure and fun. This tournament can throw up all sorts of crazy, remember how crap that Greek team was in 2004. Remember how surprised you were when Denmark pulled it out of the bad in 92. Spain may look good on paper but so did Bayern Munich last month….