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With the European Championships fast approaching amid a weekend of international friendlies, Phil Kitromilides takes a look at where the smart money lies in the Uefa tournament

While the World Cup generally sees the odd minnow qualify thus providing some respite for sides who face them, in Euro 2012 there is not really a particularly weak team in the draw and makes those who become champions all the more impressive.

The first batch of pre-tournament friendlies have been taking place this weekend and odds have shifted slightly, though not dramatically, as a result.

Spain comfortably dispatched Serbia 2-0 at home; England won unspectacularly in Norway; Germany were defeated 5-3 in a thrilling match in Switzerland; and the Netherlands were beaten on their home turf 2-1 by an unfancied Bulgaria.

A few more friendlies are in place before the European Championships get underway on June 8 and the odds are likely to keep shifting to and fro in the build-up.

Continuing to lead the betting are defending champions Spain, priced as the 5/2 (3.50) favourites by William Hill.

However, La Roja have a few injury problems heading into the tournament. They are without talismanic centre-back Carlos Puyol and main striker David Villa has been ruled out having missed the majority of the season.

Though Spain posses other options in both positions, the loss of these two key players will have a major impact on the side and as such make Spain a less attractive option.

As always coming into a major tournament, Germany remain well fancied and are priced at 3/1 (4.00) to lift the trophy.

The exciting young Deutschland team which brushed England aside in South Africa 2010 has matured into a well balanced and attractive team, with the creativity of Mesut Ozil and the dynamic finishing of Mario Gomez thrilling and intimidating in equal measure.

Beaten World Cup finalists the Netherlands come next in the betting, priced at 13/2 (7.50), while England are optimistically available at 9/1 (10.00), a price that will probably appeal to only the most patriotic of punters.

Much more tempting is the 10/1 (11.00) offered for an intriguing France side to succeed, with Laurent Blanc's squad full of extremely talented players who earned an impressive 2-1 win in Germany back in February.

Of the other sides involved, Italy might attract some each way interest at 14/1 (15.00) while co-hosts Ukraine and Poland are priced at 40/1 (41.00) and 50/1 (51.00) respectively.


Euro 2012 - William Hill

Spain: 5/2 (3.50)
Germany: 3/1 (4.0)
Netherlands: 13/2 (7.50)
England: 9/1 (10.00)
France: 10/1 (11.00)
Italy: 14/1 (15.00)

Best bet: Germany to win: 3/1 (4.0)

Value bet: France to win: 11/1 (12.0)

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports broadcaster working on radio and TV in London and Madrid, you can also follow Phil on Twitter 

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