Tricky Euro 2012 qualifying groups could see big sides struggle

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As reigning world and European champions, Spain rightfully start their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign as resounding 1/5 favourites to top Group I.

They are also tipped at 4/1 to win Euro 2012 itself, and the likes of Scotland and an unusually mediocre Czech Republic side should not overly concern Vicente Del Bosque’s men, as they search for a smooth passage in qualification.

There are other giants of the European game, however, who are in danger of failing to qualify.

Portugal laboured through their World Cup qualifying group which included Sweden and Denmark, and they could be a little disheartened to find that their next group also has a Scandinavian taste.

The Euro 2004 runners-up have been drawn in Group H against Norway and Denmark, to whom they suffered a home defeat during World Cup qualification. Carlos Queiroz’s side could struggle to reach Euro 2012, despite their favourite odds of 8/15 to top the group.

Despite their convincing price of 1/2 to win Group C, Italy could also falter at the qualification stage, as they will have to battle their way past Serbia and Bosnia.

Italy boss Cesare Prandelli began his tenure with defeat to the Ivory Coast, and the world number 13 side Serbia (5/2 to win the group) will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing the Azurri.

After enduring a nightmare World Cup, France are undergoing a radical overhaul under new manager Laurent Blanc, and they are 1/2 to win Group D.

Having banned all 23 World Cup squad players for his first match in charge, Blanc will hope that his fresh prospects can steer France past tricky Group D obstacles such as Romania and Bosnia.

England are another side rebuilding after a turbulent campaign in South Africa, and Fabio Capello’s men are a convincing 2/7 to top Group G.

Bulgaria, Switzerland, Montenegro and Wales will all see their encounters with England as giant-killing opportunities, but Capello’s rejuvenated squad should possess enough quality to top the group.

Who will be England’s biggest threat? Switzerland are 6/1 to win Group G. See the full Euro 2012 Qualifying Group G Betting Odds market.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.