I’m firmly of the opinion that Italy (best odds 18-1) are a massively underrated team - I can see them doing much better than many people think. Antonio Conte’s side have a very strong defensive unit that features Juventus teammates Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzaghi, while veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon remains one of the finest stoppers in world football.
It tells you plenty about the quality of the Italian squad that they were able to leave out a player of the stature of Andrea Pirlo and I’m not at all concerned about the manner of their victories in the qualifying group – friendlies and qualifying campaigns have no bearing at all on how a team performs in a major tournament, and Italy have reached the final in two of the last five European Championships. I like Graziano Pelle, their main goal threat, and the 18-1 about the Azzurri just looks too big to me.
The top-scorer market looks wide open and the likes of Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane and Alvaro Morata all have obvious claims but France can make hay in what looks a very weak group on paper and that makes Olivier Giroud a huge price at 16-1. Arsenal fans have been tearing their hair out with Giroud all season but he’s a pivotal figure for his national side and a lot of chances could fall his way in the first three games. He’s bagged seven goals in France's last seven matches and providing he stays injury free, he could fill his boots in the opening fixtures.
I’m not convinced England have what it takes to go all the way but there is absolutely no reason why Roy Hodgson’s side can’t sail through Group B unbeaten and the 5-6 about the Three Lions finishing top of their section looks more than fair. Does Roy know what his starting eleven for the Russia game is yet? I’m not sure he does, but I will be majorley disappointed if we don’t win the opening game with a bit to spare.
We have nothing to fear from Russia or Slovakia and we’re a much better team than Wales, which leads me to think the best odds 5-1 about England picking up maximum points in the section, is a very appealing price.
Get 20-1 on England to win all of their group games with Paddy Power
One of my best bets of the tournament is the 9-1 about Czech Republic losing all three of their group matches. The Czechs concede goals for fun and they are likely to be on the back foot from the word go given their opening match is against Spain. They will struggle to get any change out of Croatia or Turkey and Pavel Vrba’s side look doomed from the outset.
If you like a shortie, the 5-6 about Robert Lewandowski finishing up top scorer for Poland looks a gift. That ought to be the cornerstone of any doubles or trebles.
I’ll be back on Friday to preview England’s opening match and all the other weekend games.