One of the best European Championship tournaments in history may have just ended, but football fans across the globe can look forward to another premium competition this summer, with the 2012 London Olympics football tournament set to kick off on 26th July.
You are probably aware of the fact that each one of the 16 national teams taking part in Men’s tournament will feature mostly Under-23 players, although every side is allowed to have three players over the age of 23. Given that players like Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Ryan Giggs, Craig Bellamy, Juan Mata, Neymar and Ganso have already confirmed their participation at the 2012 Olympics, this football tournament could be one of the most exciting ones in history.
The teams are divided into four groups of four and they will compete for glory at six impressive football venues across the United Kingdom. Wembley, Old Trafford, St James’ Park and City of Coventry Stadium will host the games in England, while the matches will also be played at Hampden Park and Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Host nation Great Britain have been placed into a pretty difficult group, alongside the likes of Uruguay, Senegal and United Arab Emirates, but even without David Beckham and Gareth Bale, Stuart Pearce’s side are 2.00 (1/1) favourites with William Hill to win the first place in their group and thus make the job easier for themselves in the quarter-finals. Boasting the likes of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Uruguay look a good bet at 2.63 (13/8) offered by bet365.
There are no real world beaters in Group B, but we should see a very interesting battle for the top two places between Mexico, Switzerland, South Korea and Gabon. With players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka and Valon Behrami, Switzerland are the number one favourites for the top spot, with 888sport paying 2.25 (5/4). 188BET sees Mexico as second favourites, and odds of 2.65 (33/20) do look tempting when we know El Tri arrive to London with the squad that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup competing with senior sides.
With Brazil priced at 1.17 (1/6) with bet365 to win Group C, there is every chance that Belarus, Egypt and New Zealand will be vying for the second place in the group. Mano Menezes’ Under-23 squad have already beaten senior sides of Bosnia, Denmark and United States during their preparations for this tournament, which is hardly a surprise for a team that feature players like Neymar, Ganso, Lucas Moura and Alexandre Pato.
We have a similar situation in Group D, with Spain 1.30 (3/1) at William Hill to beat Japan, Morocco and Honduras to the first place in the group. La Furia Roja arrive to England with a star-studded line-up after Juan Mata and Javi Martinez both agreed to participate at the Olympics despite playing at the 2012 European Championship.
As far as the outright betting predictions are concerned, one cannot look past Spain and Brazil, even if Great Britain are also in the mix. La Furia Roja can rely on players with a wealth of La Liga experience and no wonder they are just 3.75 (11/4) with Bodog to lift the coveted trophy.
However, it is Brazil that are seen as the number one favourites for the trophy, and they are priced 3.25 (9/4) at Stan James. Unlike their rivals, the Seleccao have already played five friendly games with their Under-23 squad and their preparations were much longer than that of other 2012 Olympics participants.