At football betting odds of 100/1 to win Euro 2012, the Republic of Ireland are by some distance the least-fancied side at this summer’s championships.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of betting opportunities for punters keen to have a flutter on Giovanni Trapattoni’s men with their free £25 bet for registering with bwin.
Read on as bwinbetting’s resident Ireland expert Neil Sargent talks us through his top three antepost bets.
Ireland to qualify for the quarter-finals @ 4/1 (free £25 bet wins £125)
Not many people are giving the Republic much chance of emerging from what looks, on the surface at least, to be a tough group, with bwin pricing them at 4/5 favourites to finish bottom and 4/1 outsiders to progress to the quarters.
But history and recent form are both on their side and I reckon that Ireland might just spring a surprise.
Ireland have made it out of their group on each of the last three occasions that they have played in a major tournament.
In World Cup 1990, they knocked Holland out at the group stages and four years later they defeated eventual runners-up Italy on their way to progressing into the second round.
Most recently, they ensured a safe passage into the last 16 at World Cup 2002 without losing a single game – drawing twice and winning once.
On top of that, Trapattoni’s men beat Group C opponents Italy 2-0 in Liege last year and with the match-fixing scandal still reverberating around the Azzurri squad, they could be set for a first-round exit again, as in the last World Cup.
The Republic’s opening match against Croatia is crucial, but if they can take three points from it then the quarter-finals will be in their grasp.
Ireland to be involved in a penalty shootout @ 20/1 (free £25 bet wins £525)
The odds of 20/1 on Ireland being involved in a penalty shootout are necessarily long because the bookies don’t believe that Ireland will make it out of Group C but, as I have explained above, I don’t entirely agree with them.
And recent history suggests that when Ireland do qualify out of the group, the chances are that they will end up in a penalty shoot-out.
At World Cup 2002 they were eliminated at the last-16 stage on penalties by Spain, while at World Cup 1990 they progressed through the same stage courtesy of a penalty shoot-out win over Romania.
That’s two of the last three major competitions that Ireland have played in that this bet would have paid off.
If England manage to win Group D they will face the runners-up in Group C in the quarter-finals, so if Ireland take that spot we could be faced with the fascinating possibility of Roy Hodgson’s men and the Boys in Green being separated by the dreaded penalties.
In any case, I reckon 20/1 on Ireland to take part in penalties at some point in the competition is too good an opportunity to turn down.
Robbie Keane to be Ireland’s top goalscorer @ 11/4 (free £25 bet wins £93.75)
If you aren’t convinced that Ireland have what it takes to make it through their group then you might want to look for a safer option – and this has got to be one of the safest anteposts around.
Robbie Keane is Ireland’s all-time record goalscorer, he was their top scorer in qualifying and was their joint top scorer the last time Ireland played in a major international competition.
Father Time may be creeping up on him slightly, but Keane is still almost certain to start every game assuming he stays fit and also won’t be far away from penalty duty.
Punters who register with bwin qualify for a free £25 bet and using that to back Keane to top-score for Ireland will return £93.75 if successful.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all our Euro 2012 odds.
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