The latest round of a long, tedious, qualifying campaign, stuffed with meaningless fixtures as a result of the finals being enlarged from 16 to 24 nations, are contested this weekend with Spain now 13/2 with Winner.com to retain their European crown when France host the tournament next year.
Reigning world champions Germany are offered at a surprisingly lengthy 7/2 (bet365) to add the European crown to their world title, odds that will surely tumble as they move into overdrive in Group D where they’re currently second, having lost 2-0 to Poland earlier in the season.
Scotland are 14/1 third favourites (Stan James) to qualify from Group D and it’s highly unlikely that those odds will lengthen following Sunday’s meeting with Gibraltar, a match in which the Scots kick off as William Hill’s 1/100 favourites – that’s not a misprint.
Given bookies’ understandable reluctance to offer much better than what equates to a 5 percent tax-free return on ‘standard’ bets, punters have been forced to explore alternative ways of generating a return on their investment.
In the handicap markets, for example, Skybet price Scotland at 5/6 to win when kicking off with a four goal deficit (the same firm chalk 7/4 against Gibraltar winning when handed a four-goal start), while BetVictor.com post 4/11 about the Scots winning by a margin of four goals or more.
Backers who suspect Scotland may run out of either steam (unlikely) or enthusiasm (possible) may fancy the look of what could be called ‘contrarian’ wagers. For instance, Betway post an attractive 9/2 against Scotland winning by three goals and Paddy Power considers the chances of both teams scoring at an attractive 7/2. Though he’s not noted for his goalscoring prowess, Darren Fletcher is offered at 3/1 (Ladbrokes) to score at any time.
In other markets, bet365 rate the probability of the contest’s total goal minutes exceeding 235 (again, no misprint) at 10/11 as Stan James mark 2/7 about the fixture yielding more than 3.5 goals. The most popular outcome in the correct score markets is a 4-0 home win – it’s priced at 11/2 by BetVictor.com.