The World Cup was a bust. Too many poor teams, in far-flung stadia, England were hopeless, France and Italy were worse. The Uefa European football championship needs to deliver.
The draws have been made and Spain, who won the European soccer championship in 2008, have history on their side, and look a good bet to repeat their success in 2012.
But they must negotiate a tough group, including the Czech Republic, if they are to defend their title in Poland and Ukraine.
51 teams will compete for the right to join hosts Poland and Ukraine in the finals of the Uefa European football championship, and before the dust has barely settled on the World Cup, hopes and dreams and no small amount of predictions will have been made.
After their hopeless 2010 World Cup, few will be making predictions that England will top the standings in Group G. Switzerland, Wales, Bulgaria and Montenegro will be anxious to show the three lions are all style and no substance. Failure to reach the finals of the Uefa European championship would be a disaster for Fabio Capello and his so-called golden generation who have consistently failed to produce the results in major finals. They cannot do it when it matters most and the odds are, although they may top the standings after qualification, results will not go for them in the finals.
European championship 2012 betting for the other home nations appears equally fraught.
Scotland have not qualified for any tournament since the World Cup in France, in 1998, but there is hope their appalling run may be about to come to an end at the next Uefa European championship.
Craig Levein’s men are, however, paying a high price for past failure in the European nations championship, and have been drawn with champions Spain, the Czechs, Lithuania and Liechtenstein.
A nightmare draw, and one which has meant predictions of a revival are wide of the mark, even for the most optimistic members of the Tartan Army who will spend thousands following their team and a few pounds on European championship betting.
Wales, too, may struggle to make much of an impact on European championship betting. As well as England – a fixture which matters much to those involved but will probably not have much a a bearing on the final tables – John Toshack’s men must also overhaul three other nations better placed to qualify for the next European soccer championship.
Northern Ireland may be worth a look, especially given the number of UK-facing online bookmakers who offer free bets for them to qualify.
Meanwhile, Italy’s terrible showing in South Africa has left more questions than answers when they begin their qualifying campaign for the European nations championship. A new manager is needed, and the odds are half their ageing team will have been replaced.
Serbia showed flashes of brilliance in South Africa, but if the Northern Irish are to upset the odds in European championship 2012 betting during qualification, then it is a safe bet to say to say their home form will be crucial.
Matches against Slovenia – remember them? – Estonia and the Faroe Islands offer hope, and the Northern Irish may be worth a wager in the European championship betting markets.
The quality of football in the European soccer championship will be of a higher standard than that seen in South Africa.
The reasons? Many, not least the ease of access for teams, increased levels of support and more atmospheric stadiums. The European championship league tables will be tight, but the qualification process promises to be exciting.
At least the men from the Irish Republic have avoided France – the hand of Thierry Henry et al – but it would take a bold predictor willing to put their bets on them making it the finals of the European soccer championship.
The nine winners and the runner-up with the best record against the leading sides in their pool qualify directly for the final tournament, the last before the championship is expanded to 24 teams. The eight remaining runners-up go into play-off matches in November 2011 to decide the final four sides to join co-hosts Poland and Ukraine.
And Ireland must get past Russia, Slovakia, Macedonia, Armenia and Andorra if they are to reach the finals. No easy task for a nation which would attract strong interest in European championship 2012 betting.
As for the usual suspects, who will be there because they are always are? Germany, who wallow in the label of a tournament team, have been pitted alongside Turkey, Austria, Belgium Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan¬ – an opportunity our friends from central Europe will not squander, so expect them to be among the favourites for European championship betting.
How about a dark horse to match Greece’s achievements of 2004? The astute predictor scouring the internet looking for value (and a free bet) should see what bets are available with their online bookmaker against Croatia recovering from their failure to qualify for South Africa.
They have enough quality, and a manager, to get past Greece and should make a solid impact on European championship betting.