England fans can look forward to Euro 2012 with some excitement. Without the burden of unrealistic expectation – not even the most short-sighted England observer would makes the Three Lions one of the favourites – any promise shown by the young squad the as yet unknown manager takes to Poland and Ukraine will be a bonus.
Should they make the squad the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Chris Smalling, Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge will gain useful experience for future events and tentative optimism for the future might build although fans of Bet Victor will know all about the side's poor form at major tournaments.
The tournament will also be of great interest as a neutral. The higher concentration of strong teams sees European Championships produce a greater number of good matches than the World Cup does and the winner could play six tough matches on the way to lifting the trophy, something that does not happen in World Cups.
Indeed, should the much-fancied Germany prevail they will need to get past Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark (the obligatory group of death) and then could face knockout opponents Czech Republic, Italy and Spain. No one will have an easy ride to glory, as the Victor Chandler odds show.
World and European champions Spain are rightly favourites, having completed a second consecutive qualifying campaign with a 100% record. They have unearthed some exciting new talent that have bedded in alongside the big names that have taken them to the pinnacle of the world game and it will take a brave punter to bet against them, although Italy, Croatia and Republic of Ireland will keep them on their toes in the group phase.
Germany have made it easier to look elsewhere. They also arrive after winning all their qualification matches, which is more instructive than their patchy friendly results over recent months – wins over Brazil and Netherlands have been mixed with defeat to France and draws wit Poland and Ukraine. In Mario Gomez they have one of the continent's most in-form players in their ranks.
Netherlands also have a potential tournament top scorer as their talisman, but the Dutch proved at Wembley last month that they do not rely excessively on Robin van Persie. France have improved swiftly under Laurent Blanc and are the best of the rest, but another Spain-Germany final is easy to envisage.