With the international friendlies in full flow, teams competing at the 2016 European Championships in France this summer are at a key stage in their preparations.
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Ahead of the tournament throughout June and July, there are only a few friendlies in May for national team managers to ready their teams.
Following this international break each coach will have a pretty good idea as to their squad and starting lineup for EURO 2016. Except Roy Hodgson, of course…
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Here’s a look at the odds from the bookmakers on the six favorites to win the tournament this summer, plus a quick summation of where each team is at right now.
France – Odds to win: 7/2
The hosts are among the favorites and despite not having a competitive game since the summer of 2014, Didier Deschamps’ squad is looking very strong. Paul Pogba, Hugo Lloris and Anthony Martial will lead this team but players like Dimitri Payet, N'Golo Kante and Kingsley Coman are all making a charge to make the squad. Also, Ousmane Dembele could make it. The French have lost just once in their last seven games and that was to England in the wake of the Paris attacks when soccer really took a back seat. The hosts will be heavy favorites.
Germany – Odds to win: 7/2
Okay, so there’s not too many people worried about the reigning World Cup champs but Joachim Loew’s side is definitely having a bit of a wobble. They have recalled Mario Gomez up front to try and add some experience to the front line but they’ve lost to England and France in recent friendlies. They hardly set the world alight in qualifying as they lost to the Republic of Ireland and Poland, but they will be there or there abouts in the latter stages this summer.
Spain – Odds to win: 11/2
Vicente del Bosque’s men won nine of their 10 games in 2015 and qualified with ease following their group stage exit at the 2014 World Cup. However, in recent friendlies the Spaniards have looked short of ideas in attack as they drew 1-1 with Italy and 0-0 with Romania. Pedro is their most lethal forward option, as the likes of Alvaro Morata, Nolito and Paco Alcacer have yet to step up. Spain should dominate plenty of teams this summer, but can they beat the elite?
England – Odds to win: 11/1
A surging dark horse, Roy Hodgson is awash with attacking options as the Three Lions have built some momentum. Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli have impressed, while question marks remain around Wayne Rooney and if the captain should start. Defensively England have some issues with John Stones, Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling battling for the center back spots but a semifinal appearance isn’t out of the question. The ever-optimistic England fans are trying to curb their enthusiasm following the 3-2 win in Germany last week…
Belgium– Odds to win: 12/1
The No. 1 ranked team in the world is stacked with quality players from front to back but plenty are out of form heading into this summer. Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois haven’t had vintage seasons at Chelsea, while the same could be said for Manchester United’s Marouane Fellaini and Liverpool’s Christian Benteke. Man City’s Vincent Kompany plus Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld will provide Belgium with a strong defensive core. Marc Wilmots’ side will be a big favorite if they hit form early in the tournament and they are no longer a dark horse, especially if Kevin De Bruyne returns to form after returning from injury.
Italy – Odds to win: 18/1
With Antonio Conte leaving after the tournament this summer, can the Azzurri boss go out on a high? A watertight defense marshaled by veteran goalkeeper Gianliugi Buffon will see them advance far in the competition and if they play to Graziano Pelle‘s strengths then he could be fruitful in attack. Who is going to provide that creative spark from midfield? Could it be Sebastian Giovinco?