Well that was Euro 2012 then! Wasn't it good? 23 days of fantastic football and a competition that can hold it's own alongside the likes of the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000. Spain moved into legendary territory as they became the first European side to win three consecutive international tournaments. Savour them now as we may not see their like again for a while. As well as taking the football honours, the Spanish played a big part in the tournament betting accolades…
Spain were favourites for this competition as soon as prices went up the morning after they won Euro 2008 and their World Cup victory in South Africa cemented their position further at the head of the market but as the tournament got closer, confidence in the Spanish waned and the Germans got very close to them at the odds. With Spain generally around the 9/4 mark earlier in the year it was a surprise to see them touch 3/1 as the action got underway. Confidence surged in Germany and in some places they joined the Spanish at 3/1 but were generally 7/2 as we kicked off. That order remained until after Day 6 when Germany dispatched Holland 2-1 with more ease than the scoreline suggested, that victory saw Germany overtake Spain at the head of the betting for the first time. After thumping Ireland 4-0 the following night Spain reclaimed favouritism but it was now a pass-the-parcel type process between the sides in the betting as to who sat top of the list. With both sides reaching the Semi-Finals it was the Germans who became clear favourites at 13/8. That of course was where their adventure ended with Italy beating them 2-1 and the path was clear for the Spanish as they dispatched Portugal on penalties before overpowering Italy in the final. Never in doubt? Not according to the betting public who deserted Spain for Germany before and during the tournament. How could they?!
While the Outright Betting winner was a duopoly, the race for Top Goalscorer was an intriguing battle that brought together fancied runners with big outsiders. Incredibly six players tied for the top scorer position on three goals and that meant that the stake of winners bets was divided by six but at the same original odds of the selection. Those who got with the fancied runners got a run for their money, Mario Gomez (originally 8/1) had scored three by Day 6 of the tournament and he was odds on for this award at that early stage. Sadly for his backers though he didn't notch again and was crucially left out the team that cruised past Greece 4-2 in the Quarter-Finals. Oh what could have been?! After an indifferent start to the competition Cristiano Ronaldo stamped his authority on proceedings with two goals against Holland and a third against the Czech Republic. His price went from 66/1 to 7/2 after his double against Holland and he took a share of the award. Another player late to the party was Mario Ballotelli who after scoring against Ireland really hit the headlines with his semi-final double against Germany. Originally 18/1, he went into the Final as clear favourite for this award but was unable to score again and shake off the others. Two players who exited at the group stage also took Top Scorer honours but for backers of Croatia's Mario Mandzukic and Russia's Alan Dzagoev it's very sweet news as they began the tournament at 100/1 and 150/1 respectively. The sixth and final piece of the jigsaw was slotted into place by the much derided Fernando Torres whose goal near the end of the Final supplemented his double against Ireland and gained him membership to the Joint Top Scorer club. Nando's odds fluctuated from 18/1 to 33/1 back into 5/2 and then out to 18/1 again before he scored Spain's third goal in the Final.
So with regard to the two main betting markets of Euro 2012, there was a mixture of punter-friendly results and big outsiders getting in on the act. The lack of confidence behind Spain in the Outright Winner market proved to be misjudged as they scooped a third straight tournament while the Top Goascorer betting was muddled by a six way tie. The repercussions of that meant that those who backed the fancied winners (Gomez, Ronaldo, Torres, Balotelli) saw their winnings reduced significantly but for those who invested in the big outsiders (Mandzukic and Dzagoev) this market proved a fruitful endeavour.
Can Spain make it four in a row at the 2014 World Cup? 11/2 says they can. Fancy it?