Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
In The Mixer is FST’s weekly column where we catch up with our team of football betting experts and get their opinion on the hot topic of the week.
With the next batch of Euro 2024 taking place later this week, we thought it would be the perfect time to ask our experts for their potential dark horses as the tournament approaches and they’ve picked out three 80/1 shots, as well as a 25/1 contender.
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Euro 2024 glory a realistic goal for Scotland
It has to be Scotland. Steve Clarke’s side are making easy work of what looked a tricky qualifying section containing Spain, Norway, Georgia and Cyprus and the Tartan Army are already guaranteed a playoff spot.
It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that Scotland’s midfield of Billy Gilmour, Scott McTominay, John McGinn and Callum McGregor is one of the strongest in Europe and Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney and Aaron Hickey are excellent defensive options.
Clarke’s side did disappoint at Euro 2020, but they appear to have grown and got stronger since that group stage exit and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go well in Germany.
Scotland are one of only three teams to have a perfect 100 per cent record in qualifying so far and the improvement they have made under Steve Clarke in the past year is remarkable.
They are already assured of at least a play-off spot and even though there are tough tests to come against Spain, Georgia and Norway, the Scots are in a fantastic position as they look to qualify for back-to-back European Championships.
After being knocked out in the group stage of Euro 2020, Clarke’s side will be determined to do better in Germany and if they can maintain their winning form they will go into the tournament with plenty of confidence.
Hungary have a chance in Germany
Hungary did the double over England and took four points off Germany in last year’s Nations League and they competed well in a tough Euro 2020 group, drawing with the Germans and France.
If you’re looking for a Greece-style shock at next summer’s finals then the Magyars could fit the bill.
Liverpool’s Dominik Szoboszlai and RB Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi are the star names but Hungary are more than the sum of their parts and September’s 2-1 away win over Serbia has given Marco Rossi’s men an excellent chance of topping qualifying Group G.
Scotland are being talked up due to a win over Spain but England showcased their obvious limitations last month, and Hungary look a more attractive option at twice the price.
Like Scotland, the Magyars are enjoying something of a renaissance but it has been more prolonged. Hungary topped a group that included eventual winners Portugal at Euro 2016, while they were beaten only once in the Group of Death featuring France, Germany and Portugal at Euro 2020.
Hungary finished second to Italy in the Nations League, taking four points off Germany and six off England, while they currently top Group G in qualifying for Euro 2024 with three wins and a draw from four games.
Croatia and Turkey among the contenders
Croatia have been typically stodgy so far in qualifying but are a proper tournament team and usually get it together at major competitions.
They have been semi-finalists or better at the last two World Cups and only a tough draw and a freak game against Spain cost them at the last Euros.
Although their ticket to Germany is still to be secured, they are at least guaranteed a play-off.
With Zlatko Dalic at the helm and Luka Modric still pulling the strings in midfield, the Vatreni’s 25/1 may not be so fanciful.
Turkey may have underwhelmed at the last two European Championship finals, but they do have major tournament pedigree and are well placed to reach next summer’s showpiece in Germany.
Twice in the 2000s Turkey made it to the semi-finals of major tournaments – the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2008 – and they may be ready to make another major dent on the international landscape.
The Crescent-Stars have a new manager at the helm in Vincenzo Montella and he could lead them into an exciting new era with a squad that still contains plenty of talent, epitomised by captain Hakan Calhanoglu.
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