Sports betting has traditionally been all about picking the right underdog — about using knowledge and understanding to spot upsets before they happen. In the European Championships, it feels like an upset is never far away. In 1992, Denmark won the tournament after only qualifying on a technicality when Yugoslavia was expelled. In 1996, a plucky Czech side reached the final and took Germany to extra time. In 2004, rank outsider Greece was crowned champion, while five years ago in 2016, Wales shocked everyone by reaching a semi-final, eliminating the much-fancied Belgians along the way.
But what about Euro 2020? Three of this year’s final four — Italy, Spain, and England — were not particularly unexpected. Denmark may feel like an outsider in this group, but their solid team was galvanized by the trauma of their opening game, and a kind draw saw them coast to the semis without upset. Only France and the Netherlands made shock early exits, and the Netherlands had been tipped by many for an early journey home anyway. Other contenders — such as Belgium, Croatia, Germany, and Portugal — were eliminated by similarly or more highly ranked teams.
A Trend Emerging?
So, fewer upsets for Euro 2020 betting customers to get their teeth into, but does this reflect a trend in the competition? Seemingly, it does. In Euro 2008, of 31 games played, eight were won by teams designated as underdogs, while six were draws and 17 were won by the favorites. In 2012, the number of games won by favorites grew to 18, while underdogs scored only six victories.
The tournament expanded to 24 teams in 2016, and 14 underdog victories represented a slight increase. However, this looks to be the anomaly on the curve once 2020 is taken into account.
What Does This Mean for Sports Betting and Online Gambling?
When the best teams are playing well, it’s certainly good for the sport in general. It also makes outliers, such as Iceland and Wales in 2016 or Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup, feel all the more special. However, fewer upsets mean that gamblers have to become more creative.
In-play betting and dynamic odds give betting customers more chances to win big money. Similarly, increasingly complex accumulator bets are likely to become more popular, connecting betters with good odds while eliminating the risk of choosing a rank outsider. More specific bets — such as first scorer or number of yellow cards in a game — may also become more common.
Betting providers will have to be tuned into this market demand as they seek to give their customers what they want. This may result in a far more dynamic betting landscape. Of course, an element of good fortune is always involved in tournament football. However, as teams become increasingly tactically astute, sports betting customers will need to become more savvy if they are to secure big wins from this kind of gambling.