After the four UK nations’ practically faultless starts to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaigns, bwin.com have priced up England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at 16/1 to all reach France in two summers’ time.
Having considered the historical and recent travails of the latter three in competitive action, punters may be put off rowing in behind this wager, but there’s ample evidence to suggest that this time, with the European Championships greatly expanded, it’s different.
This is really just a treble, with England almost certain to qualify, probably as group winners, although on bare form the same could be assumed of Northern Ireland.
Michael O’Neill’s side sit in splendid isolation atop Group F, having won what looked to be their toughest fixture 2-0 against Greece last time out in Athens, after seeing off Hungary in Budapest a month earlier.
Second-placed Romania couldn’t even beat the Magical Magyars at home, so there’s no reason to believe they’ll best the Green and White Army, who have been great value in recent qualifying campaigns, with draws in Portugal and Israel plus a win at home to Russia among the highlights.
Like Northern Ireland, Scotland have hardly put a foot wrong so far in qualifying, going down just 2-1 after equalising against word champions Germany in Dortmund, before gunning down Georgia at Ibrox.
Had Gordon Strachan’s men held off Poland’s late resistance and claimed a win in Warsaw, 16/1 on this acca would be nowhere to be seen, but with two automatic qualifying spots and a play-off place up for grabs in each group, Scotland are in with a live chance of progressing.
With Germany, Poland and Republic of Ireland, who Strachan’s side face next at home, all trading points at present, the Tartan Army can sneak a place if they keep up their current form.
As for Wales, few are getting excited about Chris Coleman’s side’s prospects, despite Gareth Bale and co collecting seven points from three matches thus far against Andorra, Bosnia and Cyprus.
The Dragons are expected to lose their next match in Belgium, but the following fixture away to Israel in March will be key.
If they leave with a draw, they’ll be in with more than a fighting chance of finishing third at worst, so there’s hope for Wales’ blossoming unit just yet.
As well as 16/1 on all four UK nations making it to France, you can also have 40/1 on Republic of Ireland joining them in qualification, which doesn’t look a bad price considering the highly fluxive nature of Group D.