We like to have a little bit of fun when the summer comes around at The Offside Rule (We Get It!) so it was a no-brainer when it came to having a sweepstake for the upcoming Euro 2016 tournament.
With 24 nations up for grabs and no certain winner emerging from the darkness, everyone’s very excited about their chances bar one or two. We’ve also decided to have a quick look at our teams and preview them one-by-one for your pleasure! As you can tell, some of us are happier than others regarding our chances of taking home the jackpot…
France | Laura Jones – Writer (@yicetor) | Odds: 3/1…favourites
I’ve got the tournament favourite, so based on past betting experience the French team will be shot in the paddock. They have experience in the squad, Paul Pogba and despite years of discontent amongst the fans, there is a returning sense of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.
Germany | Lynsey Hooper – Presenter & Co-Producer (@LynseyHooper) | Odds: 7/2…but they’re Germany
Had I picked Germany in the sweepstakes 12 months ago, I would’ve been celebrating already! But as our Web Editor pointed out to me, Germany aren’t enjoying the best run currently, losing four of their last six games. Mats Hummels will miss the opener and Joachim Loew has recalled Mario Gomez, implying a lack of striking options. Expectations are high for the World Champions, but winning won’t be a formality – far from it.
Spain | Ben Wheatland – News Editor (@BenWheatland) | Odds: 11/2…the holders
Licking their wounds from the last World Cup, Spain come into Euro 2016 seeking a hat-trick of European titles. Vicente Del Bosque has left Diego Costa at home, bringing 35-year-old Aritz Aduriz to the party instead. What odds on Aduriz being top scorer and lifting the trophy in Paris?
England | Tom Simmonds – Writer (@TallulahonEarth) | Odds: 9/1…really?
The emergence of Dele Alli, Harry Kane, etc. has us dreaming again. The resultant conundrum of how to shoehorn Wayne Rooney into the team plagues Roy Hodgson, though it’s a sideshow to England’s biggest problem. The squad is paper-thin defensively, which will prove England’s undoing, though the semis are a realistic aspiration.
Belgium | Laura Hamill – Social Media Officer (@lauramhamill) | Odds: 10/1…the outsiders
Major tournaments are renowned for being the showcase for the transfer window and this reason is why the Belgian side are one to watch. It’s no secret that many big name players in the Red Devils squad are ready to move on to pastures new and will put in the performances of their lives. Romelu Lukaku, Christian Benteke, Eden Hazard…I could go on!
Italy | Rich Laverty – Head of Online (@RichJLaverty) | Odds: 16/1…the pretenders
Since winning the World Cup in 2006, Italy have failed quite badly for a nation built on such defensive football…*dons tin hat* Despite a Euro 2012 final, Italy will say farewell to their manager after Euro 2016 and have already lost Claudio Marchisio and Marco Verratti to injury. Basically, they have little chance. Forza Italia!
Portugal | Hayley McQueen – Presenter (@HayleyMcQueen) | Odds: 20/1…Ronaldo and friends
In Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal have arguably the best player in Europe right now, waxed, shaved, and tanned to within an inch of his life. But Portugal aren’t a one-man team anymore, as their friendly against Norway proved; with stars such as the in-form Ricardo Quaresma, they should shine as brightly as Ronaldo’s veneers this summer.
Croatia | Aidan Linning – Editorial Assistant (@ajlinning) | Odds: 25/1…surprise package?
A star-studded Croatia qualified for their fifth European Championships in six attempts as runners-up behind Italy, with top scorer and Inter midfielder Ivan Perišić notching six goals in qualifying. Captain Darijo Srna believes that this is the best Croatia team in history – expect them to cause a few surprises.
Austria | Kevin Hatchard – Writer (@kevinhatchard) | Odds: 40-1…really?
After years of obscurity, Austria are back in the big time. Swiss tactician Marcel Koller has worked wonders, securing the country’s first appearance at a major tournament since 2008. Das Team aren’t always fun to watch, but in the superbly versatile David Alaba, they have one of Europe’s best players.
Russia | Olivia Buzaglo – Social Media Officer (@buzaglo16) | Odds: 40-1…again, really?
Unlucky Russia are missing in-form playmaker Alan Dzagoev for Euro 2016, as well as the experience of Yuri Zhirkov and Aleksandr Kerzhakov. With their two central defenders edging towards the end of their careers, a distinct lack of pace could see the Russians enjoy only a short stay in France.
Switzerland | Kait Borsay – Presenter & Co-Producer (@kaitborsay) | Odds: 40-1…they’re always there
Forget chocolate, watches and cheese, there’s only one Swiss export Euro 2016 fans need concern themselves with: Shaqiri! On the back of a strong World Cup, the Stoke forward aims to fire Switzerland beyond the group stages for the first time. Already the poster team for mass immigration, Switzerland’s Group A game against Albania takes Euro-blending a step further: Albania could field six Swiss-born players and vice versa. We may even see a sibling rivalry.. (see Albania).
Poland | Alex Vryzakis – Writer (@AlexVryzakis) | Odds: 50-1…Lewandowski
Poland could be forgiven for feeling like the football gods are having a bit of a laugh at their expense after being drawn once again in a group with Germany. Despite Robert Lewandowski leading the charge, 27th-ranked Poland will have to hope they aren’t all scored-out after putting eight past Gibraltar last September.
Ukraine | Neil Evans – Writer (@swinfan69) | Odds: 66-1…meh
Joint hosts in 2012, Ukraine will face Poland, Northern Ireland, and world champions Germany in Group C. They won’t lack spirit, as their 3-4 friendly victory over Romania proved, but they’ll need a Eurovision-inspired miracle to progress far. Star wingers Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka will provide much needed quality.
Wales | Mark Young – Writer (@markyoung1988) | Odds: 80-1…seems a bit harsh
It’s no secret that Gareth Bale is Wales’ star. His seven goals helped Chris Coleman’s side out of a tricky qualifying group, with Aaron Ramsey adding two more from midfield, but it’s the defence that will be the cornerstone of the Welsh campaign. A back-line led by Ashley Williams conceded just four times in qualifying.
Turkey | Laura Kirk – Editorial Assistant (@LauraKirk12) | Odds: 80-1…almost drew with England
It might not be quite the European membership the country was after, but Turkey successfully qualified for the Euros thanks to a last-gasp free-kick against Iceland. Captain Arda Turan has endured a tough first season at Barcelona, but he could be the one to inspire the semi-finalists from 2008.
Sweden | Milana Knezevic – Lead Social Media Officer (@milanaknez) | Odds: 80-1…Zlatan
As a Norwegian, it won’t be pleasant to support our eternal rivals Sweden, but then again, who doesn’t love Zlatan? If this tournament is the big man’s international swansong, count on him to go out with a bang. Considering Italy’s injury problems, the Swedes may just escape their tough group.
Czech Republic | Aman Pathiara – Sub-Editor (@apathiara) | Odds: 100-1…the first of the triple digits
Having reached the quarter-finals in 2012, the Czech Republic will be hoping to break an unfortunate pattern of group stage exits every other Euro tournament. In Arsenal’s Petr Cech, they have one of the best goalkeepers around, and their group isn’t too difficult – they could spring a surprise this year.
Romania | Alex Lever – Head of Social Media (@AlexLever) | Odds: 100-1…once beat England
Unbeaten in their 10 qualifying games, and having not conceded away from home, Romania will really need some breaking down. Sadly, their three goalless draws in qualifying – and a goalless friendly against Spain – highlight the huge excitement this team brings! Watch out for captain and ex-Spurs defender Vlad Chiricheș.
Iceland | Niamh Archibald – Social Media Officer (@NiamhArchibald) | Odds: 125-1…the new hipster’s choice
Managed by dentist Heimir Hallgrimsson and Swede Lars Lagerback, Iceland’s Euro qualification has been nothing short of remarkable. Group F is pretty open with Portugal, Austria and Hungry all vying for qualification, but with players like Gylfi Sigurdsson, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson and Basel’s Birkir Bjarnason, Iceland’s 323,000 inhabitants could well be celebrating a place in the round of sixteen.
Slovakia | Kelly Somers – Head of Video (@KellySomers) | Odds: 150-1…just beat Germany *gulp*
They’ve recently beaten Germany, and captain Martin Škrtel is one of my favourite footballers, so I’m delighted that Slovakia are my team. I’m backing Škrtel to put in some heroic displays in France; hopefully some goal scoring form too, as strikers Adam Nemec and Michal Ďuriš only scored three times between themselves in the qualifiers!
Republic of Ireland | Rebecca Coles – Social Media Officer (@Rebecca_L_Coles) | Odds: 150-1…Keano on the touchline!
If you got the boys in green in your sweepstake, fear not – Martin O’Neill has lost just one of his 12 games in charge, with all night Long scoring five in eight and 67 international goals from Robbie Keane. At 150/1, where there’s a Whelan, there’s a way!
Hungary | Ed Scott – Imaging Producer (@EdScottLondon) | Odds: 250-1…why bother?
It was high stakes in the Euro 2016 play-off against Norway by Hungary’s German coach Bernd Storck, handing a debut to 22-year-old Laszlo Kleinheisler who hardly played a game all season. The fearless youngster scored the only goal and a first qualification for a major tournament since the World Cup in 1986.
Albania | Alexandra Adey – Podcast Editor and Producer (@alex_adey) | Odds: 250-1…seriously, why bother?
Albania have made history by reaching their first ever major international tournament, where they’ll face hosts France, Romania, and Switzerland. The latter fixture could provide some sibling rivalry; the Xhaka brothers were born in Basel, and while Taulant opted to play for Albania, Arsenal’s summer signing Granit chose the country of his birth.
Northern Ireland | Charlotte Duncker – Social Media Officer (@CharDuncker) | Odds: 500-1…well if Leicester can do it
#Daretodream is their motto and it really would be a dream if Michael O’Neill’s side progress. It’s the first time since the 1986 World Cup that Northern Ireland have qualified for a major tournament and they travel with no pressure, deemed outsiders in Group C. But in the year that Leicester City won the Premier League, anything is possible, right? Well, probably not in this case.