English soccer fans are one of the biggest on-again, off-again bunches in sports. And, with England making a somewhat-surprising appearance in the Euro Cup quarterfinals, they’re currently in the on-again position.
That wasn’t the case two weeks ago, when hopes were low heading into the European Championships. England’s squad was viewed as a mess, with a new manager, injuries and suspensions leaving big question marks for British backers, who usually have such high expectations for internationals competition.
That uncertainty scared away many soccer bettors and England took in a shockingly low amount of action heading into Euro 2012. But, after topping Group D with two wins and a draw, English soccer fans are climbing over each other to bet their national team heading into Sunday’s knockout-round showdown with Italy.
“The lack of interest in backing them to win the tourney has now changed and the feeling around the country is now more ‘Why not England?’,” Aron Wattleworth of British sportsbook bet365.com
“The expectation that was lacking pre-tournament has been replaced by jubilant optimism in many parts. However, as anyone who knows soccer knows, never count Italy out before they are out.”
England has moved from its opening odds of +182 to +175 versus the Azzurri, who are listed at +188 for Sunday’s game. The Three Lions opened the tournament at +1,400 to win and have since been bet down as low as +800.
The success of England at Euro 2012 is a double-edged sword for British books. Due to the popularity of the team, a loss always sides in the books favor - much like a loss for public darlings such as the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Lakers in North America.
England’s final group-stage game, a 1-0 win over Ukraine, was heavily backed and was a big winner for those fans jumping back on the bandwagon. However, their inclusion in the quarterfinals is important because it keeps the action coming in – action that is growing by the minute.
“The bandwagon is back in full swing for the English,” says Wattleworth.
England and Italy kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET Sunday. The winner is set to face either Greece or Germany, who play Friday.