Shadowing Germany in the betting to win Euro 2016 is their semi-final opponent France but, intriguingly, it is the French who the bookies deem more likely to prevail when the duo collide in the last four.
Didier Deschamps’ men are 37/20 second-favourites for Euros glory, while Die Mannschaft can be backed at the marginally shorter 9/5 to hoist the trophy. Go figure.
But this bizarre odds calibration has presented us punters with a gleaming opportunity to make some money.
France produced the most ruthless attacking display of the championships to demolish Iceland in the quarter finals, but having been chauffeured to the semis, are they suitably prepared to slay the world champions?
Win, Lose or Draw?
Les Bleus have played five games this tournament, all of them versus significantly weaker opposition.
Despite their cushy tournament to date, they’ve produced just one convincing performance, which came against Iceland last time, and even then they conceded two goals.
Worryingly for those backing the hosts, Romania, Albania and the Republic of Ireland all exposed deficiencies in the French defence too. Obviously, none of these nations boast the firepower of world champions Germany, even if they are somewhat depleted ahead of this bout.
First-choice target man Mario Gomez will miss the semi-final thanks to a muscle tear and a similar injury has accounted for engine-room operative Sami Khedira. Elsewhere, Mats Hummels is banned and skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger is a serious doubt too.
Importantly though, the elite-chance-conjuring taskforce Jogi Low has constructed remains fully intact.
Barring any training ground mishaps, Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos will start against France. They’re chiefly responsible for Germany’s outrageous 911 completed passes in the final third and the driving force behind the 14 ‘big chances’ the team has fashioned.
Both statistics are tournament highs, while no rival left in the hunt can match their 188 touches inside the box, 65 successful dribbles or 80.7% possession in the attacking third either.
Defensively, they’re stronger than France too. They’ve conceded just 13 shots in the box compared to their next opponents’ 23. Foes of the French have been allowed 15 attempts from set plays, as opposed to just ten for the Germans’ adversaries. As for ‘big chances’ given up, Die Mannschaft are the most frugal once more, allowing four next to the hosts’ seven.
It’s a resounding victory in both departments for Low’s troops, but what’s most impressive about these figures is that they were compiled along one of the toughest routes to the semi-finals.
Group C, which they won without conceding a goal, was one of the toughest in the tournament, while Italy, who they overcame in the quarters having never previously done so in eight competitive clashes, had bested two pre-competition favourites in Belgium and Spain en route to the last eight.
Quite how they’ve been cast as underdogs here is unfathomable and punters can’t spurn the opportunity.
Recommended bet: Germany to win @ 39/20
As has often been the case in the knockout stage of Euro 2016, the price for fewer than 2.5 goals being scored is low, raising the temptation to side with overs.
Those who plan on investing in the net bulging at least three times wouldn’t be without vindication.
Both of Germany’s previous two Euros semi-finals saw the threshold crossed, as did their latest World Cup appearance at this stage. As for France, both their knockout matches to date have seen the same barrier broken, while two of their most recent four meetings with their next opponent have also rewarded backers of this particular bet.
Recommended bet: Over 2.5 goals @ 27/20
Who’s Going To Score?
Getting one’s head around the fact that international sharpshooting sensation Thomas Muller is still searching for his first European Championship goal is no easy task.
The German has struck 32 times over 76 caps, though none of these goals have come at the Euros.
He’s tried and failed ten times before, including in five matches at this tournament in which he has completed every match, had 16 attempts (three more than his closest compatriot), had a chance every 31.3 minutes and had more touches inside the box than any other player in the tournament. He even missed a penalty in Germany’s shootout success over Italy in the quarters.
His duck remains unbroken, but not for want of trying, so can’t be long before Muller rustles the net.
Recommended bet: Muller to score any time @ 2/1
Germany and France have locked horns seven times this century, with at least one goal scored in all bar one of these meetings.
In all of the matches across this period, the net bulged exactly once in the first half.
Recommended bet: Exactly one goal scored in the first half @ 17/10