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There’s now only a matter of days before the Euro 2016 kicks off, with hosts France taking on Romania to get the big tournament started.

From a betting angle, I’ve unearthed what I think are two excellent value for money Back-to-Lay trades. The mission here is to back them both pre-tournament and Lay off all – or part – of our liability in the knockout stages, all going well.

One scenario I can forecast with some degree of certainty: if England win their first game it will be the usual ‘England are going to win hands down, doing cartwheels and blindfolded’. You know how the hype goes.

But if they lose, Roy Hodgson’s team will no doubt be the worst England side since sliced bread (but when did Hovis ever make it past the semi-finals?), and we’ll hear plenty from our lovely, supportive press about how the influx of foreign players in the Premier League have impacted negatively on the national side or how the English season is too long and the players are tired… blah, blah, blah.

England – please bear with me for a moment, Scotland supporters – go into every tournament with what looks like a side capable of going all the way, only to go down like a lead balloon when we don’t win convincingly from the off.

In my humble opinion, the pre-tournament hype hasn’t helped England in the past, building up unrealistic expectations the team find it hard to live up to. Add to that the fact that England tend not to be technically good enough to win tournaments anyway and you can see why England fans have endured so many years of hurt.

Click on the image below to watch ‘Wayne Rooney: My England story


Every team needs a match winner – and a flash of brilliance that can turn round a game in a millisecond. Take Ronaldo for example, the difference between Real Madrid winning and losing the Champions League final.

However, en route to any finals, you also need team spirit or a ‘siege’ mentality. Getting the balance right of a match winner and great team spirit is an irresistible combination for any team hoping to go far.

England’s preparation for the Euros this time appears to have been relatively free from the usual pre-tournament BS (so far, anyway…). Hodgson has simply gone about building a ‘team’ – and a good one at that could surprise even themselves.

The discovery of Eric Dier will give plenty of stability in defensive midfield and traits of Leicester City’s counterattacking ability brought into the national team may well work a dream at international level. At long last England could be playing to their inherent strengths instead of trying to be flash and continental, especially when the opposition are better at that type of play.

Also note: Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Harry Kane all play regularly together Spurs and that familiarity can only bode well at international level so, for once, England could have the ‘team’ aspect nailed.

At a general 10/1 I wouldn’t want to persuade anyone against having a nibble on England, although I do feel there is still something missing in order take the crown. But in all honesty, I can’t put my finger on exactly what that is. And that is Roy’s job, after all.

So let’s look for a bit of value on teams that may give us a good run for our money, enabling us to ‘Back’ and then ‘Lay’ shortly after the group stages.

My first touch is going to be on Poland at 50/1 generally. For me that offers plenty of room for error in a Back-to-Lay trade.

Poland were co-hosts four years ago and still couldn’t get beyond the group stage but there’s more reason for optimism this time around given their qualifying campaign. Their tally of 33 goals was impressive and more than any other nation in Europe.

This impressive record can be put down to one man – Robert Lewandowski. He now has further support with Ajax striker Arkadiusz Milik and Sevilla midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak in the squad, making the 50/1 price very inviting given the route I think they could take.

Click on the image below to watch ‘Lewandowski on Poland goal v Greece at UEFA EURO 2012′


My next ‘value’ bet is on Austria at 40/1 generally, a price that offers plenty of room for error in another Back-to-Lay trade.

Austria were efficient in the qualifiers, winning nine out of ten games and drawing one. They have a solid defence and will be hard to get past. As the legend that was Brian Clough used to say: ‘If you don’t concede then you’re guaranteed a point.” So their defensive record could see them do well in the group stages. A good opening win against Hungary could see that 40/1 crash.

And let’s not forget Austria qualified for Euro 2016 in hugely impressive style, topping a group containing Sweden and Russia with nine wins out of ten. Only England qualified with more points.

Tottenham’s Austrian defender Kevin Wimmer has commented on the “incredible development” of his national team over the last two years. They have an excellent chance of qualifying from their group containing Portugal, Hungary and Iceland and so have to be worth a nibble to get to the knockout stages in this tournament.

To sum up:

Back ‘POLAND’ at 50/1 (Lay off if qualifying into knockout stages)
Back ‘AUSTRIA’ at 40/1 (Lay off if qualifying into knockout stages)

Betfair Sportsbook are offering £5 every time your chosen teams win a match, so long as you back them pre-tournament. However, bookies don’t give you something for nothing and Betfair Sportsbook are a bookie. Yes they will give you £5 each time your teams win, but their pre-tournament odds are inferior on many teams, so do look around for the bigger prices rather than falling for these gimmicks.

Finally, it should be a very interesting tournament with England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland all taking part. Shame about the Scots losing out, that would have added an incredible atmosphere to the whole event.