Euro 2016: Countries that beat the market’s expectations

For the first insight post on we take a look at the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and how the market priced the matches of the teams that ultimately qualified.  The below data visualisation looks at the 145 games (from 258 played – excluding the play-offs) that the qualifying teams for Euro 2016 won.  There are some interesting observations that we can take forward into our tournament betting.

Fig 1: Level Stakes Profit from Euro 2016 Qualifiers


The Visualisation Explained

Twenty-three teams progressed from the qualifying campaign to join the hosts France at Euro 2016. Excluding the play-off games they won 145 games between them.  The above visualisation shows us what would have occurred if we had flat bet (placed a level stake) on every game that the 23 teams played.  For most teams this was ten games, although Portugal and Albania played just eight in the smaller Group I.

As we have excluded those teams that did not qualify, the bulk of the visualisation is in profit. However it is immediately clear that some countries – whilst making it through – did not perform to the market’s expectations.

Each country’s bar indicates their level-stakes profit/loss and is divided into the individual games that they won.  For example, England won all ten of their games and the details for each are available by hovering over the LSP bar.

Details for each match include: The fixture, the winner, the average pre-match odds matched on Betfair (taking into account every single bet placed on the exchange) and the total level-stakes profit for the campaign.



Starting at the top, it is clear to see that Iceland had a great campaign, surpassing the markets expectations by winning six of their ten games. Incredibly five out of those six they were priced odds-against. Beating the Dutch home and away grabs the headlines, but being allowed to go off at 4.31 at home to Turkey clearly demonstrates to me that that market didn’t have a good handle on Iceland’s chances.

They are 200/1+ shots to win the tournament proper which marks them as clear outsiders.  However what surprises me is that they are third-favourites in Group F, a group that contains none of the top-six teams in the betting. A Top 2 Finish can be backed at the time of writing at 2.6 with and approaching 2.9 on

For a team that beat the Turks, the Czechs and the Dutch twice, as well as getting the job done against a couple of minnows, I’m not sure how much fear Portugal, Austria or Hungary will hold. Has the market underestimated them once again?


The Slovaks had a great qualifying campaign winning seven of their ten matches.  On the most part the market had them as favourites for the games that they won, but the two big shock results were beating neighbours Ukraine in Kiev and of course their incredible late winner against reigning champions Spain.

After winning their first six games on the bounce, their qualifying form tailed off towards the end of the group.  However a 3-1 friendly victory away in Germany in the lead up to this tournament yet again marks them out as one for an upset.  Perhaps England should beware on the 20th June?


Albania won just three games to qualify for Euro 2016 (albeit from a smaller group) and are name-your-price rank outsiders for the tournament.  What gives them such an impressive LSP was that huge upset beating Portugal in Aveiro, which the Betfair market had priced at 12.65.

In reality that was a Portugal missing a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and a few more of his teammates.  It looks like a rick now, but how many more upsets will they cause? They don’t score a lot of goals, so it would need to be another smash-and-grab. Perhaps keep an eye on the injury situation for Switzerland in the third group game?


Ten wins from ten games: you couldn’t fail to make a level-stakes profit if you backed England throughout qualifying. However with a 5.15 unit LSP, they could not really be judged as smashing market expectations – due in part to an easy group, made even easier by that early win away in Switzerland.

The outright markets have them there or thereabouts, but with three favourites ahead of them. Quarter-finals on penalties?


Germany won seven games and qualified by topping their group.  What more did they need to do?  The answer may well be nothing, but the market was certainly keeping them on side: their biggest priced win coming away in Scotland at 1.46.  Write them off winning at your peril, but it would appear unlikely that you will get rich backing Germany from match-to-match.  Backing them outright and then laying-off their knockout games at odds-on might be a smarter way to play it.


Not a great qualifying campaign by the Swedes that saw them take the vast majority of their points from three poor teams who all finished with a negative goal-difference. They were forced to qualify through the play-offs where their talismanic captain dragged them over the line. Zlatan will make the headlines, but in Italy, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland they face much tougher opposition in their group than they beat in qualifying.

Selected Others

Northern Ireland showed that they hold no fear on the road.  The Czechs were another beneficiary of the poor Dutch performance. Austria may not have had the toughest group, but 9 wins, 1 draw, 22 goals scored and just 5 conceded is impressive form, although their friendly preparation perhaps doesn’t inspire the same confidence. Like Germany and Sweden; Italy, Switzerland and Belgium only managed victories when they were odds on to do so.

Hopefully you find the data visualisation useful.  If it prompts any insight of your own, please share in the comments.


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