Ahead of Euro 2008, Philip Wilson, chief trader of JAXX, West Ham United's official online sports betting partner gives his view of the competition.
A bookies bonanza was how Euro 2004 was widely described. Little wonder. Greece came from nowhere to take the title. They were 50/1 shots to win it with some firms, or a £10 bet for a return of £500. Nice work if you can get it. But though the bookies are not expecting nearly so much business this summer after England's failure to reach Switzerland and Austria, JAXX head trader Philip Wilson said West Ham United fans have plenty of opportunities to make money.
Who are the Jaxx punters backing to win Euro 2008?
Germany. They have been backed down to 4/1 favourites with JAXX. We have a large base of German customers who have already started to put the patriotic money down. We fully expect this to continue as the tournament gets ever nearer. So there certainly won't be any traders here at JAXX cheering the Germans.
What chance do Freddie Ljunberg's Sweden, or Slaven Bilic's Croatia, have?
"Sweden are 9/2 shots to win Group D, which looks very tough. Realistically, they are looking to get second place behind Spain. They are defensively solid and have a knack of scoring goals from set pieces. The Swedes will create plenty of chances and we are offering odds on whether or not they will score more than 3.5 goals in total. You can't rule them out reaching the quarter-finals - they are a 2/1 shot to go out at that stage - but anything else would be a bonus.
Croatia are a well managed, well-organised side who play a similar style of football to Arsenal. They are easy on the eye and although they have been hurt by the loss of Eduardo, they must have a great chance at 12/1.
What result would be the best for you?
In an ideal world, Austria - they are the 80/1 outsiders! But realistically our best result would be the Netherlands. Marco van Basten's men are 12/1 to win it, but very few of our punters have deemed that price as value.
Who are lively outsiders in the group stage?
Romania are 10/1 to win Group C. They topped their qualifying group ahead of Holland after going on a 10-game unbeaten run. They are well organised, have a good manager in Victor Piturca, and they love to attack - sometimes at the expense of defending. Adrian Mutu and Ciprian Marica, who scored eleven goals between them in qualifying, are a good combination up front.
What's a must-see game?
Portugal's clash with the Czech Republic next Wednesday looks like being a fascinating clash in Group A. The Czechs finished ahead of Germany in their qualifying group and beat them 3-0 in Munich, without several first-choice players. That may have been a blip, though. We would not necessarily expect to see that form repeated if the two met again.
What bets will you personally be having?
I have already had a fairly lumpy bet on Portugal a few months back! With the squad they have, including arguably the world's best player in Ronaldo, and a proven winner for a coach in Luis Felipe Scolari, I think they have as good a chance as anyone. I've also had a small bet on France's Karim Benzema to be top scorer at 25/1. The Lyon striker is lightning quick and, if given the opportunity, will score goals"
If you had to put your life on one bet for Euro 2008, what would it be?
Germany to win Group B. They have so much quality and strength in depth in a relatively easy group. Only Croatia really have the potential to cause an upset in that Group, but they will be hit by the loss of Eduardo.
What Special Bets will interest punters?
The top goalscorer match bets are always fun. Germany's Miroslav Klose might score more than Italy's Luca Toni, while Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo may get more than Liverpool's Fernando Torres. We've got bets on the fastest goal in the tournament, total own goals scored, total headed goals… you name it, we'll have a market for it.
What outsider will give Jaxx punters a real run for their money?
Switzerland, who open against the Czech Republic on Saturday. They are 25/1 shots, but host nations have a good record in this tournament. In fact, every single host (bar Belgium in 2000, who co-hosted with eventual semi-finalists Holland) has reached the semi-finals.
What about a winner for this weekend?
Germany to beat Poland on Sunday. The price is reflective of their chance though.