Will Euro 2016 be another tale of the underdogs?

Will Euro 2016 be another tale of the underdogs?

The Republic of Ireland, Hungary, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, and Wales have all made it through to the knockout stages of Euro 2016. With many of the strong favourites faltering, can one of these sides emulate Greece in Euro 2004 and pull off a surprise victory?

Partly due to the fact that some of the third-placed teams are able to qualify in this year’s tournament, but also down to sheer passion and drive, many of the countries that weren’t expected to pass the group have succeeded. Strong team performances rather than moments of individual brilliance have been the common feature of this tournament.

Wales and Hungary, who started the tournament at odds of 80/1 and 400/1 respectively, both pulled off shock wins in their groups. Wales go on to face Northern Ireland in the round of 16, which could well be the pick of the ties in this upcoming set of fixtures. The winners of that will face Hungary or Belgium in the quarter finals. Wales have shown that they are far more than a team than just Gareth Bale and some other players, and supporters will believe that they have a strong chance of progressing to the semi-finals now.

Iceland, who were unbeaten in the group stages, finished above Portugal to secure a last-16 tie against England. Those who want to bet on Euro 2016 with Paddy Power will find that Iceland are at odds of 6/1 to win that match. Owing to the fact that they have been playing with such belief, and are genuinely relishing their first opportunity to play in a major tournament, it may be unwise to bet against them.

Slovakia did surprisingly well in the group stages, registering an emphatic win over Russia and a draw against England. They still finished third, though, and now face their toughest challenge yet as they prepare to meet the World Champions, Germany, in the last-16.

The teams listed above will also find some motivation knowing that they all have the opportunity to make it further than one of the tournament favourites. Either Spain or Italy will be knocked out of the competition in the next set of fixtures, and to see one of the European heavyweights dumped out at such an early stage will add to the sense of belief that one of these teams could go all the way.

Nobody expected Greece to win the competition in 2004, and they were at odds of around 200/1 with some bookies to lift the trophy. In that tournament Greece won, drew, and lost their group matches and finished second behind Portugal. They then went on to record 1-0 victories against France, Czech Republic and Portugal to win the competition. The fact that Ireland have already beaten one of the top seeded teams, and other underdogs have shown resilient defending, adds weight to the theory that anything is possible.

With Leicester City winning the Premier League title, 2016 has been the underdog’s story. Will the Euros see another huge upset?

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