European Championship Group B - Teams & Odds Analysis

European Championship Group B - Teams & Odds Analysis

European Championship Group B has 3 bigger favourites to qualify from the group stage. Belgium is the main favourite of course, as well as winning the whole competition. 
Denmark and Russia are both under 1.44 to qualify, and Denmark is a small favourite ahead of Russia. The group's underdog is Finland, with the odds of 2.6 to 3.

I'm not sure about my feelings on Denmark odds as I hoped they would be a little higher so I can back these odds. If you read my odds blog about the Euros, you remember that I like the team a lot and hope to be a big dark horse in this competition. The potential is here, and this team is fun to watch.
I general, I don't see any value odds in this group, and everything seems to be fair. With around 1.4 to qualify, Russia seems already too risky as Finland can make a surprise here.
At the same time, I wouldn't back them with the odds around 3.

Belgium as a group winner with the odds around 1.7-1.8 is a nice bet tough. Winning the group gives probably a weaker opponent in the next round so they should go for it and not save players in the last game when the qualifying is guaranteed.

European Championship Group B - Belgium

The current number 1 in FIFA ranking and the main favourite with France and England to win the whole competition.
Odds around 6.5-7 to win the competition are good enough to back them before they become shorter.

Head coach Roberto Martinez has done a great job so far. Belgium was knocked out by the eventual champions France in the previous WC in the semi-finals.
Wales eliminated them in the last Euros in the quarter-finals, and everything except a final this time would be a huge disappointment.
The same goes with winning the European Championship Group B

Potential squad

While examining the potential squad, all I can see is a lot of quality players and goals. Lukaku with 59 and a tremendous season behind him as a new Serie A champion. De Bruyne, with 21 goals, arguably A level star in the team. Mertens, with 21 goals, is 34 years old and scores twice fewer goals per season compared with his younger age for the Napoli. Benteke with 16 goals and seven this season for Crystal Palace in the Premier League.
Trossard has had two strong seasons in Premier League for Brighton. Tielemans is having his best scoring season for Leicester, and Lukebakio is feeling confident in front of the goal in Bundesliga.

There are also some big question marks. Mitchy Batshuayi is more a rotation player for Crystal Palace and Eden Hazard...well, we all know. Have lost two seasons due to injuries. Dynamic midfield engine Axel Witsel has been injured during the season, but hopefully will be fit for the European Championship Group B games.

Goalkeepers - Thibaut Courtois will be number one, no doubt. For the back up there's Koen Casteels from Wolfsburg and Bundesliga.
Simon Mignolet should be the third option, and I really hope that things will not go so far to the south that they should use him.

Defenders - Good old reliable Toby Alderweireld (Spurs) and Jan Verthongen (now in Benfica, moved from Spurs) have over 230 games for Belgium combined. Boyata (Hertha Berlin) and Denayer (Lyon) are solid back-ups or options for the third CB. Thomas Meunier is a class player in his position (Borussia Dortmund) and runs down the flanks like there's no tomorrow. Timothy Castagne from Leicester have only 13 games for Belgium but has been 4 years as the main man in Serie and Premier League. 35 years old Vermaelen may get a call to Japan to provide some leader presence.

Midfielders - As I mentioned before, Axel Witsel is a vital piece in this midfield, and his last game was in January. 110 games with 10 goals, mainly known for his defence and energy on the midfield. Vital for their tactics with 3 central defenders to have two holding midfielders to cover the flanks and relatively slow central defenders. Kevin De Bruyne is, of course, the star of the team. 80 games with 21 goals for Belgium and one of the best in his position. Youri Tielemans and Leandro Dendoncker are both playing vital parts in their teams in Premier League. Both players main job will be to provide a cover for their defence while Witsel is out of the game.
Dennis Praet is also earning his game time in Premier League and Leicester (with Tielemans).

More offensive-minded players are Thorgan Hazard (Borussia Dortmund), Nacer Chadli (Basaksehir), Yannick Carrasco (Athletico Madrid), Adnad Januzaj and young star potential Alexis Saelemakeres (AC Milan).
Not all of them are 'world-class' level players, not at all. But let's be honest, in Euros, there are not many teams who will have this level of players in every position. The midfield they can put out is playing all in the highest leagues as constant starting players.

Attackers - Romelu Lukaku, that's all I need to say to be honest. 59 goals in 91 games for Belgium. Two 20 plus goals seasons in Inter in a row. Have found himself again after moving from Manu. Benteke is a similar huge 'mountain' with 16 goals in 39 games for the national team. 7 goals this season in Premier League for Crystal Palace. Trossard from Brighton plays on the wing and has had 2 strong seasons in Premier League and fights with Dries Mertens. Mertens is already in the 'legend' status 21 goals in 96 games but still going strong in Napoli.
Eden Hazard should be a vital piece in the team, but he has had only under 30 games and 4 goals for Real Madrid during the last two seasons. Most of these games are from the bench. 

Overall expectation

With fully fit and inform Witsel and Eden Hazard, their odds to win the whole competition would be around 3-4 instead of 6. Ok, let's add if Divock Origi would have filled his potential also during the last 3-4 seasons. At the moment, everything less than a place in a final would still be a huge disappointment. Most of the core has one more chance in the next Euros, except Mertens and Witsel..and Verthongen and Vermaelen:)

European Championship Group B - Denmark

And here we are, Denmark. Raise your hand who knew that Denmark is in 10th place at the moment in FIFA ranking? Ahead of Germany, Croatia, Switzerland and Netherlands, for example.
Round of 16 in the last WC, didn't qualify to previous Euros at all but have won this competition in 1992.
Very mixed results from 0 to hero for this country who is not considered as the main favourites in any international football competitions. Even not in 1992.

The recent results for them are close to amazing and that's the reason for the high rank in FIFA rankings. The first three games in 2022 WC qualification - 3 games and 3 wins with a goal difference of 14-0. They have played twice against Belgium and England since September. Two losses against Belgium with two goals, but 1 draw and 1 win against England. Also wins against Iceland, Israel and Sweden. This team can make some surprises during this tournament I'm sure in European Championship Group B and further.

Potential squad

Squad value is around 270m, but as the results suggest, this is underestimated. Denmark can set up a starting 11 of players playing only in the top 4 leagues in the world.
The problem and why their odds are as high as they are is that there are no current world-class level players, and there's not much squad depth and alternatives for the core.

Goalkeepers - Kasper Schmeichel from Leicester City is the current number one. Alternatives are Frederik Ronnow from Schalke and then local league goalkeepers. Kasper has 6 times more games under his belt than 5 other goalkeepers who have been in the squad during the last year. A major concern.

Defenders - Simon Kjaer from AC Milan has 105 games for Denmark and several seasons in the highest leagues. Joachim Anderes plays for Fulham as the starting 11 in Premier League.
He has only four games for the national team, but he is also 24 years old with 3 seasons in top leagues. Andreas Christensen is a starter in Denmark, and at the moment also in Chelsea.
Dalsgaard has been a starter in England Championship for years. 23 years old Joakim Maehle earned a contract with Atalanta and have 19 games this season in Italy, Serie A.
Jannik Vestergaard has been Bundesliga and Premier League player for the last 7 seasons. There's a decent core.

Midfielders - Very strong and well-known talent in the midfield mixed with some upcoming talent. Ok, Christian Eriksen is not the same we knew a few seasons ago. He has only 3 goals in his last 2 seasons for Inter but still delivers for Denmark and is vital. 36 goals in 106 games, wow.
New star in the midfield will be Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg from Spurs. 4 seasons in the Premier League and different tasks than Eriksen.
A strong holding midfielder with similar tasks to Thomas Delaney from Borussia Dortmund. 5th season in Bundesliga, and he shook down his recent injury to be fully fit for the Euros.
Daniel Wass from Valencia is another seasoned veteran playing in the highest levels of football in Spain.

Then there are three players in the Italy Serie A. Jens Stryger Larsen from Udinese (4 seasons as the main team player), probable future star Andreas Skov Olsen from Bologna (21 years old and 2 seasons as the main player) and this seasons wonder Mikkel Damsgaard from Sampdoria. Moved to Italy this season from the Denmark league and have 33 games and 2 goals in the debut season.

Attackers - 6 players in top leagues once again. You see what I'm trying to say here?:)
Okay yes, Martin Braithwaite is not a regular starter in Barcelona. 3 goals in the last two seasons, but he was making 10 plus goals seasons in France League 1.
Kasper Dolberg is playing Nice, France League 1. 16 goals combined in the last two seasons.

Andreas Cornelius is playing in Serie A and Parma. Again, only 1 goal this season, and he has lost his 'main man' position but banged in 12 goals in last season.
Marcus Ingvartsen has 8 goals in his last 2 seasons in Bundesliga, and Yussuf Poulsen had ten goals in the same time in the same league.
Another striker in Bundesliga is Robert Skov with 5 goals during the last 2 seasons.

Sisto was a force in Spain La Liga but moved back to Denmark for the ongoing season.
In some recent games, they have played with 22 years old Jonas Older Wind as a striker. He plays in Denmark and has 13 goals this season.

Overall expectation

For the 34th time, I think highly of this team and don't understand the odds at all. Ok, something like 1.3 to qualify is low.
But I'm sure we can get nice odds in their games against Russia and Finland and chase their odds to reach the x stage and trade the outright odds.
This team is much more complete than Russia and Finland and will get a runner-up from A in the first round.
Getting through from the European Championship Group B is a must.

 

European Championship Group B - Russia

Russia squad is valued at around 135m and coached by Stanislav Cherchesov. FIFA ranking - 38. In the 2016 Euros, they finished the last place in their group behind Wales, England and Slovakia with a goal ratio 2-6.
In the last WC, I was low on them. In the same group with Uruguay, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and they managed to progress.
Egypt had some big internal issues, and they lost all three games (My 2nd favourite to progress from the group). I thought, ok, Egypt were indeed bad, and Russia has a home advantage in this tournament.

This is it, Spain in the first playoff round, and Russia managed to beat them on penalties. In the quarter-finals, Russia managed to push against Croatia to penalties, but this time was beaten by the favourite.

Never underestimate home team chances, except during the Corona and in front of empty stadiums. Target is to go through from the European Championship Group B.

Potential squad

The majority of the squad is playing in the local league, and that's why I don't grade their chances to another surprise very highly.

Goalkeepers - Long time number 1 between the sticks, Igor Akinfeev with 111 games is not playing anymore.
Anton Shunin from Dynamo Moscow and Guilherme from Lokomotiv Moscow are the goalkeepers with most games, 10 and 16 games.
Neither of them wouldn't make even it to the squad for Denmark or Belgium. Not even in Finland, to be honest.

Defenders - Yuri Zhirkov with 102 games is 37 years old (Zenit), Fyodor Kudryasho with 43 games is 34 (Antalyaspor), Roman Neustädter with 13 games is 33 (Dynamo Moscow).
Igor Smolnikov, with 30 games (Krasnodar) and Andrei Semyonov with 25 games (Akhmat), are 32 years old.

Too old to make some miracles in this kind of competition, especially considering that their last game is in Denmark, contrary to the first to games which are played in Russia.

Midfielders - I remember that I mentioned Golovin and Miranchuk twins as the core players in this team rather sooner than later. Golovin plays now in Monaco and has been good in his first three seasons.
Ten goals during the time after moving to France from CSKA Moscow.

Aleksey Miranchuk moved to Atalanta in Serie A for this season and have played in 22 games, 4 goals as a reward.
Denis Cherysev from Valencia should be in the core also. 30 games and 12 goals for the national team, rotation player in Valencia this season with 3 goals in 3 seasons.

Other probable starters should be Aleksei Ionov from Krasnodar, Daler Kuzyayev from

Attackers - The main man has been and will be during this tournament also, Artem Dzyuba. 50 games and 29 goals for the national team - more games alone than all other attackers combined and basically more goals alone than the rest of the squad together.

Fedor Chalov has only three games for the national team but 7 goals in the Russian league this season and has been a main attacker in the past 3 seasons for CSKA.
Fyodor Smolov has 39 games and 14, plays for Lokomotiv Moscow.
Other candidates are Anton Zabolotny (12-1 for the national team and 9 goals this season for Sochi) and Aleksandr Sobolover (5-2 in national team and 13 goals in the local league for Spartak Moscow).

Overall expectation

Around 1.4 odds to qualify from the group ahead of Finland. Add that Russia has two games played in Russia, probably a fair odds.

At the same time, Russias defence and goalkeeper seems a big question mark for me, but they still have Golovin, Miranchuk and Dzyuba and Finland is missing players with the same level. Not getting through from the European Championship Group B is considered as a failure.

 

European Championship Group B -Finland

Squad value around 30m. Teemu Pukki and Lukas Hradecky as the highest valued players in the team.
For some unknown reason, Fredrik Jensen from Augsburg hasn't played for the national team since 2020 October and could be a key part of this team.

The first major tournament for them in football, at least, so this also explains the odds. FIFA rank - 54th place.
Outsiders in the European Championship Group B.

Potential squad

There are 3-4 players who have played in the big leagues. Most of the squad plays in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Cyprus, Poland leagues level. Some of these leagues are close to the Russian league level, but on paper, it's the weakest team in the European Championship Group C.

Goalkeepers - Curse or a bless, but two players who have played on the highest level are both goalkeepers.
Lucas Hradecky has been a key part of Leverkusen in Bundesliga.
Jesse Joronen plays in Italy Serie B this season but had a taste of Serie A level with Brescia last season.

Defenders - Defenders - Four of the most experienced defenders on the international level are 31 or older. Jere Uroner from Genk and Niko Hämäläines from QPR are playing on the highest level compared with the rest of the defence. The level in the European Championship Group B will surprise them.
You will get some hard times on the field when you are used to playing in Hungary, Poland and Slovakia local leagues and now have to play against De Bruyne and Eriksen.

Midfielders - Glen Kamara from Rangers stands out from the midfield. The core is playing in Sweden, Norway and Denmark leagues. Pyry Soiri from Esbjerg is the top scorer from the midfield with 5 goals. Augsburg player Fredrik Jensen would be a massive boost for this midfield for sure.

Attackers - 30 goals in 90 games, Teemu Pukki. Had an 11 goal season in English Premier League last season, but this wasn't enough for Norwich to stay in the league.
26 goals this season in Championship and back to Premier League for the next season.
The name to remember, Joel Pohjanpalo from Union Berlin and Bundesliga. 9 goals in 41 games for the national team and 5 goals in 18 games in the Bundesliga this season.
They can get another Premier League striker, as Marcus Forss finished on 4th place in the Championship with Brentford and can earn a place in the Premier League for the next season.

Overall expectation

Debutants in this competition and not a lot are expected from them. Any goal and point would be good and taken as a bonus.
Getting experience for the younger players should be a huge motivation. European Championship Group B is too hard for them to make a surprise.

 


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