The start of Euro 2012 is less than two weeks away and with it comes fringe soccer fans looking for something to bet besides baseball in June.
Here are three easy ways to make money on Euro 2012.
1. Let the dogs bark!
The World Cup lets in a bunch of joke teams just to be politically correct. Not the Euros. Every team has a shot in every game. As Greece showed in 2004, any team can win it all. (For those of you with short memories, Greece won Euro 2004 as a 100/1 long shot).
Spain comes in as defending champion and as world champion to boot. La Roja is the most likely country to win this thing. At shorter than 3/1, however, Spain has no value. Is Spain really three times more likely to win than France or Italy? Five times more likely to do the business than Portugal? Of course not. No and certainly not with top striker David Villa missing.
The underdog betting philosophy goes double for individual matches—games played over 90 minutes where one loose ball or one unfortunate whistle can wreck the favorite's chances. Most of the time, the matches are dog-or-nothing.
2. Bet under goals in the group stage until it hurts.
Since the tournament expanded to 16 teams in 1996, just getting here is no longer good enough for the major countries. The result? Teams fear mistakes and conservative play rules. Last time out, 15 of 24 group matches went under the typical total of 2.5 goals.
The stage at the end is a little trickier—that's kill-or-be-killed, of course, so a team may as well lose 6-0 as 1-0. But early in the tournament, even teams that look like losing will want to preserve their plus-minus in case it comes down to tiebreakers.
3. England has nothing. Like, zero.
Well, I already told you that any team can win this thing, so I guess that includes England. But England is garbage and has largely been so since 1966. England's best attacker, looney Wayne Rooney, has gotten himself suspended for the first two games. Rooney was born in 1985. Here's England's record in major championships since then:
Mexico '86: Quarterfinal
Euro 88: Eighth (last)
Italia 90: Fourth
Euro 92: Seventh (out of eight)
USA 94: Did not qualify
Euro 96: Semifinal on home soil
France 98: Round of 16
Euro 2000: Group Stage
Korea/Japan 2002: Quarterfinal
Euro 2004: Quarterfinal
Germany 2006: Quarterfinal
Euro 2008: Did Not Qualify
South Africa 2010: Round of 16
Sure, there's been roster turnover, but it's always the same: England is always bet in to third or fourth choice (favorites at home in '96), and never ever lives up to expectations. Except to my expectations: “England sucks again.” Bet against them (on the spread, where the juice is lowest) every time they play.