A tournament marked by shocking runs and even more surprising exits has still ultimately come down to Europe’s traditional powers, with one exception. As Euro 2016 enters the semifinals Wednesday, reigning World Cup champion Germany stands as a 3-2 favorite over host nation and France (7-4) to claim the continent’s prized trophy followed by Portugal (7-2) and first-timer Wales as the lone underdog at 6-1, according to Sportsbook.ag.
Although it certainly helps Wales and Portugal that the two favored clubs will duel before the final, Joachim Low’s Germany would keep up a recent tradition of the World Cup victor following up with a Euro title. Spain claimed the 2010 World Cup and sandwiched it with the last two Euro titles.
As it prepares to face the French in Marseille on Thursday, Germany does own several impressive victories and may deserve come credit for playing its way into fitness as the tournament’s worn on. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, in particular, has provided some exceptional performances.
Top forward Thomas Muller has yet to score in the tournament, but the Germans responded to a scoreless draw with Poland in the second group match by outlasting a tough Northern Ireland and pummeling Slovakia 3-0, leading to a 1-1 (6-5) penalty shootout with Italy in the quarterfinals that showed the experience and mettle of a champion.
Other than a scoreless result against Switzerland to close the group stage, the French have largely proved dominant behind forwards Olivier Giroud and Antoine Greizmann’s seven combined goals and midfielder Dimitri Payet’s three.
The other side of the bracket is just as intriguing, and the result of Wales and Portugal’s match could even cause a rift in Real Madrid. With three goals, winger Gareth Bale has led the Welsh deep into the tournament in just their first year of qualification and the Portuguese have dealt with his Los Blancos teammate Cristiano Ronaldo’s inconsistent performances to reach the semis for the fifth time in history.
The matchup of Bale and Ronaldo has led the discussion prior to the matchup, but it’s their supporting casts that will likely decide the outcome. Wales is second to France in scoring with 10 goals with forward Hal Robson-Kanu and midfielder Aaron Ramsey backing up Bale, while forwards Nani and Ricardo Quaresma as well as midfielder Renato Sanches round out a Portugal attack that’s largely proven listless through five matches.
Odds To Win Euro 2016