England will begin their quest to end 50-years-of-hurt when they meet Russia in their opening Group B game of Euro 2016 against Russia in Marseille on June 11th.
Russia (Soviet Union) were the inaugural winners of the then European Championships back in 1960 and have also finished runners up three times so they have a richer pedigree in the competition than England.
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, however, it would be fair to say that whilst they remain regular qualifiers for the tournament they have only gone beyond the Group stage once and that was when they reached the semi-final, under former Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink, back in 2008.
The Three Lions are 4/6 at BetVictor to top Group B with Russia 10/3, Wales 9/2 and Slovakia 8/1; Russia finished eight points behind Austria in qualifying runners up in Group G edging out Sweden who went on to make this summer’s tournament via the play-offs.
Leonid Slutski’s side only conceded five goals in nine qualifying games, their match in Montenegro was abandoned just after the hour at 0-0, which suggests they will be difficult to break down but I would be disappointed if Roy Hodgson’s side didn’t make a winning start; yes, we have been disappointed before in similar contests but this looks a gilt-edged opportunity. England are Even money at BetVictor to win in Marseille with Russia 31/10 and the draw 9/4.
Roy Hodgson has an excellent array of inform strikers at his disposal ahead of the competition and it will be interesting to see if the England boss takes just the four forwards or whether he shoehorns Manchester United’s exciting young striker Marcus Rashford into the 23-man squad.
BetVictor are betting on the stage of elimination of the Three Lions and bet:
Last 16 2/1
Quarter Final 3/1
Group stage 5/1
Runner up 7/1
There has been much written and debated, and that will continue to be the case between now and June 11th, as to whether England captain Wayne Rooney deserves his place in the starting XI, but we are convinced he will start and make him a 1/5 shot to play in England’s opening fixture.
I am a big fan of Daniel Sturridge and if the Three Lions are going to progress deep into the competition, as I believe they will, then the Liverpool striker will get plenty of opportunities and, whilst he is unlikely to start against Russia, the 8/1 for him to finish the tournament as top England goalscorer is too big.
Sturridge will be fresher than most in France and you couldn’t say Harry Kane exactly finished the season with a flourish despite a magnificent campaign at White Hart Lane; Kane and Jamie Vardy both found the back of the net against Turkey at the weekend and are ahead of Sturridge in the pecking order at this time, but the Liverpool forward could easily force his way into the starting XI as the Three Lions progress and I think 8/1 is bordering on an insult for such a top-class and, as importantly, fresh striker.
Top England goalscorer in Euro 2016;
Harry Kane 15/8
Wayne Rooney 7/2
Jamie Vardy 4/1
Daniel Sturridge 8/1
Dele Alli 10/1
England had a magnificent and proud record in qualification with a perfect 10 out of 10 wins and 32 goals scored and only three conceded; false dawns and England go hand-in-hand but I have to say my eye is drawn to the 9/2 at BetVictor for England to win all three games during the Group stages.
Wales did well to finish runners up to the much vaunted Belgium in qualification but they are likely to struggle for goals in France given they only scored 11 times in 10 ties; Gareth Bale was quite inspirational in leading Wales to their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup in Sweden scoring seven times (and two assists) and much rests on his broad shoulders.
Chris Coleman’s side, it is suggested, must get something from their opener against Slovakia, which takes place three hours (6pm) before England’s opener on June 11th in Bordeaux, to make it through to the knock out stages.
Wales, who have never reached a European Championship finals, are 8/5 to take all three points with Slovakia and the draw both 2/1; Bale scored his first goal for Wales, and became the nation’s youngest ever scorer (17 years two months), when the sides met in Cardiff in a qualifier for Euro 2008 but still finished up on the losing side.
The Real Madrid superstar is 6/5 to be the top Wales goalscorer and his record in qualification suggests he should be odds on; he will take free kicks and penalties and 6/5 looks fair; note we have taken to date plenty of bets on Bale at those odds but the second most popular bets is the 12/1 for there to be no Welsh goalscorer in the competition!
Wales stage of elimination: prices from BetVictor
Group stage 5/4
Last 16 11/8
Quarter Final 5/1
Runner up 33/1
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