Betting round-up: France, England favoured

The heavyweights are drawing the money ahead of the second round of matches in Group D, though they face plucky opposition to qualify for the knockout stages

England and France are favoured to stamp their authority on Group D when the second round of matches in the last of the four groups at Euro 2012 take place on Friday [Saturday morning Australian time].

The two European heavyweights played out a 1-1 draw in their opening match but sit in equal second spot in the group, after co-hosts the Ukraine scored a surprise come-from-behind 2-1 win over Sweden in the other opening-round group game.

Now it is France's turn to take on the Ukraine, while England meets Sweden in what is shaping up as the most keenly contested of the four groups.

That is reflected in the betting at Luxbet, with France favourites to win the group at $2.50 but only just ahead of England and Ukraine, both at $3.

Sweden are now the $12 outsiders to win the group, while to qualify for the quarter-finals it is France at $1.38, England at $1.53, the Ukraine at $1.72 and Sweden at $5.50.

Luxbet's Andy Scott said while the Ukraine have come in for good support from punters to qualify for the last eight after their win over Sweden, the punters have rallied behind France and England to win their upcoming matches.

And following the Netherlands' horror tournament - facing eliminating already from Group B - France are now clear third favourites at $10 to win the tournament overall, with England equal fifth favourites and Russia at $12.

Spain and Germany are both at $3.50.

France to beat the Ukraine at $2.05 at Luxbet
England and Sweden to draw 0-0 at $7.75 at Luxbet

For Friday's matches, it is England at $2.08 in head-to-head betting at Luxbet to beat Sweden, who are $3.55, with the draw at $3.20.

France are slightly shorter at $2.05 to beat the Ukraine, who are at $3.65, with the draw in that match also at $3.20.

But even at that price, we like the look of France to beat the Ukraine, who were flattered by their first-up win over Sweden.

France, who played far superior football to England in their opening game but struggled to break down a well-organised defence, are now unbeaten in their past 22 matches and - at No.14 on FIFA's official rankings - are some 38 places above Ukraine.

And in their last meeting, in a friendly a year ago, an under-strength France thrashed Ukraine 4-1 without Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri, who all shape as a real handful for the home side this time around.

The other game shapes as much tighter affair, given England only ended their 12-game winless streak against Sweden ‑ dating back to 1968 ‑ with a 1-0 win last November at Wembley.

A similar scoreline looms as a distinct possibility here given England have already won two of their three games so far under new manager Roy Hodgson 1-0, but they are still without the suspended Wayne Rooney for this game.

However, given Sweden's great record against England over the years and knowing they must get a result to stay alive in the tournament, the draw in this match does look tempting at $3.20 at Luxbet, as does a 0-0 stalemate on the correct-score betting market at $7.75.

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