With the expansion to 24 teams in the European Championships, what are the odds that the Euros will be low-scoring? We consider the arguments for and against.
Why the Euros might be low-scoring:
Draws might be enough
With only 24 teams in the tournament, six third-placed teams will make it through to the knockout stage. With more teams qualifying, teams don’t need to risk everything to win. Three no-score draws will likely be enough to see a team through to the knockout stages. Betting on lots of draws at online sportsbooks in the EU could be a lucrative way to approach betting on the group stages! While goals scored may be important if teams are tied on points, goal difference is more important; teams will be desperate not to let defensive errors send them home.
Small teams have to be defensive
Thanks to the tournament’s expansion, there are 8 more teams than ever before at a European Championship. This means smaller teams like Albania and Iceland have made it to the tournament. Without star quality, smaller teams may decide that defence is the only option. Albania, the team least likely to win the tournament according to online sportsbooks, only go to the tournament by being defensive: they didn’t concede any away goals during the qualifying process. They only scored seven times home or away, but their defensive record was enough to get them to France.
Romania had the best defensive record of all qualifying teams, conceding only two goals and keeping eight clean sheets. Don’t be surprised if they keep their defensive tactics for the Euros. They may not be able to restrict the French attack in the opening game, but don’t expect a goal-fest when they play Albania! After Greece’s triumph in 2004, and Leicester’s win this year, defending deep is likely to be popular. Especially when it comes to the knockout stages, attacking may be seen as too risky.
Big teams lack quality strikers
While small teams are always likely to be defensive, this may be a tournament that features a focus on defending from big sides too. Teams like Germany and Spain have quality throughout the side, but are most lacking up front. They will try to defend by keeping the ball, and might not score lots of goals. Spain won Euro 2012 with Fabregas as a “false nine”, and Germany had Gotze, not a natural striker, up front when they won the World Cup two years later. The winner this time may well take a similar approach.
On the other hand….
Smaller teams means there might be thrashings!
While the likes of Romania and Albania will hope to keep clean sheets, it might not work out that way! Their impressive defensive records in qualifying were helped by poor groups. When they face France, with their depth of attacking talent, they might crumble. In uneven match-ups throughout the group stages there may actually be lots of goals. If you want to bet on sport in France, it might make sense to bet on goals when big teams play minnows.
Some teams do have quality strikers
While there is a lack of European quality strikers, that doesn’t mean there are none. One of the greatest finishers of all time, Cristiano Ronaldo, is in the completion and if he’s fit he could easily score plenty for Portugal. Likewise, while his Real Madrid team-mate Gareth Bale features for more defensive Wales, his quality means he still may score plenty. Likewise, Robert Lewandowski is probably the best striker in the tournament, and despite Poland not being that attacking, he was still the top scorer in qualifying.
There’s also England, who lack the defensive talent they used to be famed for, but have two of the best strikers in years up front; Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane both scored for fun this season, and will hope to keep that form up this summer. They may decide that playing a defensive strategy is hopeless, so could go all-out attack! Likewise, there may be smaller nations – like Turkey or Russia – who realise that a defensive strategy is useless, so go for as many goals as possible! Maybe the odds that the Euros will be low-scoring are wrong!