EURO 2021 Underdog Plays Worth Considering

“Fußball, Männer, Länderspiel” by Steffen Prößdorf is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

The co-favorites to capture the title at UEFA Euro 2021 met recently on the pitch. England and Belgium are listed as the +500 co-betting choices at Bovada online sportsbook to win it all this summer.

Goals by Youri Tielemans and Dries Mertens in the first 23 minutes were all Belgium, listed as No. 1 in the FIFA World Rankings, required to dispose of England by a 2-0 count in their UEFA Nations League match. The English edged the Belgians 2-1 one month earlier when the two countries met at Wembley, so in reality, it is foolhardy at this stage of the game to suggest either nation has displayed a distinct advantage over the other.

England show 14 wins, four losses and a draw in 19 matches since falling 2-0 to Belgium in the third-place match at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Belgians have posted 17 wins, one loss and two draws over the same time period.

There’s no doubt that both of these nations figure to be in the thick of things at the UEFA Euro 2021 tournament. And don’t count out reigning World Cup champions France at +550. The French are at 18 wins, three losses and four draws since beating Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final.

Beyond this hat-trick of contenders, which countries might be worth a value play in the UEFA Euro 2021?

A History of Upsetting Performances

Unlike the World Cup, where the form charts rarely fail to deliver, UEFA Euro has shown a history of shocking results, including tournament triumphs by nations that were certainly considered minnows on the European stage.

In 1976, Czechoslovakia stunned reigning World Cup holders West Germany in the final. Deadlocked 2-2, the Czechs won on penalties thanks to the spectacular Ivo Viktor, who was named the tournament’s top goalkeeper.

Perhaps the most shocking outcome ever in the UEFA Euro came in 1992. Denmark didn’t even qualify for the tournament but the Danes were added in place of Yugoslavia when war in the Balkans broke the country apart.

Making the most of their second chance, the Danish delivered the goods. They went 1-1-1 in group stage play to advance as the second-place team from Group A of the eight-team event.

In the knockout phase, Denmark defeated the Netherlands 5-4 on penalties. Then the Danes stunned World Cup holders Germany 2-0 in the final.

At Portugal in 2004, Greece, which had never won a match in two previous tournament appearances at the 1980 UEFA Euro and 1994 World Cup, served notice of what was to come by stunning the host nation 2-1 in the tourney’s opening match.

” Deutschland-Estland” by Steffen Prößdorf is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

When it came time for the final, the upstart Greeks again found themselves squaring off with hosts Portugal. But there would be no revenge for the Portuguese. Greece won 1-0 on a goal by Angelos Charisteas.

While there wasn’t a shock winner four years ago in France, two minnows swam well upstream before succumbing. Iceland reached the quarter-finals by upsetting England in the Round of 16. Wales advanced to the semifinals before being put out by eventual champions Portugal.

Where is UEFA Euro 2021 Value?

Have 2008 and 2012 UEFA Euro champions, Spain (+800) found their footing again? Handing Germany a 6-0 thrashing, the worst-ever defeat suffered by the Germans in an international match, certainly turned some heads and raised eyebrows. However, prior to that result, the Spanish were winless in three. That included a 1-0 loss to Ukraine and a 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

Italy (+1200) should never be discounted in an international event. The Italians are unbeaten in 20 matches (16 wins, four draws) and show a goal differential of 57:7 over that span.

Does Cristiano Ronaldo hold a little more magic up his sleeve? Considering that Spain is the only repeat winner in tournament history, a wager on the Portuguese probably isn’t going to be money well spent. Portugal (+1400) shows goalless draws with Belgium, Spain and France in recent results. There was also a 1-0 loss to France in Portugal’s most recent match.

Closer to home, is there another bit of wonderment coming from the Welsh (+12500)? Christian Bale and friends have posted three wins and two draws over their last five matches.

And we can’t leave without mentioning the Scots. Shock qualifiers on penalties in the playoff against Serbia, that’s about as good as it will get. Since qualifying, Scotland (+25000) lost 1-0 to Slovakia and Israel in Nations League matches.