UEFA European Championship Free Bets & Betting Offers

The European Championships, commonly referred to as the Euros, is a tournament that sees the top nations on the continent compete for a highly coveted prize. It may not quite match the prestige of the World Cup but being victorious at the Euros is still a major honour and one that any European player would absolutely love to win.

There is no denying how much it means to players who feature in the Euros and it means just as much to the watching fans too. Entire nations will roar their team on and scenes of mass jubilation are a common sight whenever an important goal is scored. For most, the tournament will inevitably end up in heartbreak but for one lucky nation, the celebrations will continue long after the very final whistle is blown.

Even if you have no strong connection to any side in the competition though, the Euros will still find a way of keeping you on the edge of your seat. It is a fiercely competitive tournament, one that many sides can realistically win, and one that features such a vast array of extremely talented footballers.

UEFA European Championship Stats, Trends & Facts

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Betting on the UEFA European Championship

Man betting on Euros

With European Championship betting, you have many punters that bet with their hearts. Some have so much belief in their own country that they want to show this by giving them a monetary vote of confidence. Others will prefer to listen to their head, often deciding on their bets after a period of meticulous research and studying of the form books. No matter which type you are though, there is a wide range of bets to meet your needs.

As you would expect, you can easily place bets on any individual fixture during the entire tournament. These will all come with your usual range of additional markets such as both teams to score, over/under goals, first goalscorer, correct score and so on. There is, however, a range of bets which require you to make accurate predictions relating to the tournament as a whole. Although these are harder to call than specific matches, you will often stand to win a lot more money.

Winner

If you are only going to bet on one outright market, it is most likely going to be this one. Before any European Championship begins, there will be plenty of talk among fans and pundits alike about which team will last the full distance. It is never a straightforward conversation either as there are always several strong contenders in the mix, rather than an overwhelmingly clear favourite. The knockout aspect of the competition also increases the uncertainty as it can take just one mediocre game for a very talented side to face elimination.

Odds within the winning country market will vary every instalment of the Euros but there are general trends that hold true each time. For one thing, you will always have a sizeable chunk of completely unfancied outsiders trading at triple figures. Especially since the tournament expanded to 24 teams, there is a considerable quality gap between the top and bottom. You will also usually see the same few teams high up the betting, usually Spain, Germany and France given their respective histories of international glory, with Italy often featuring too.

Although it is often tempting to bet ‘safe’, the favourites have certainly not performed above expectation in this competition. Between 1980 and 2020, the shortest-odds option won on just four of 11 occasions. There were a couple of real shocks in this time too including Denmark in 1992 and, even more so, Greece in 2004. So, do not think anything is a sure thing in this tournament.

Top Goalscorer

While any attacking player arrives at the Euros wanting to win above all else, they certainly wouldn’t be against picking up a personal accolade at the same time. The Golden Boot award, as it is commonly referred to, goes to the player that racks up the most goals during the tournament. Should there be a tie then the award goes to the player with the most assists or failing that, the fewest minutes played.

In 2012, Fernando Torres scooped the Golden Boot award with a fairly lowly three goals and one assist. Antoine Griezmann managed to both double this goal and assists tally four years later in France, so the requirements can vary considerably. A look at all the previous winners shows a lot of very familiar names but there have been a few unexpected results too. Before the 2008 tiebreaker was introduced, FR Yugoslavia’s Savo Milošević finished joint top with Patrick Kluivert. Similarly, few people expected Milan Baros to be the outright top scorer in 2004 given he had netted just twice for Liverpool that season.

Player of the Tournament

The Player of the Tournament award has officially existed since 1996 with Germany’s Matthias Sammer claiming the inaugural prize. With so many players participating at the Euros, this is an incredibly difficult market to get right, at least at first. Often what punters do is wait until the later stages before making their selections as by this point the majority of players are realistically out of contention.

To give you some idea how volatile it can be, England’s Raheem Sterling began Euro 2020 at a 40/1 shot for the prize. This dropped to 20/1 after scoring the winner in the Three Lions’ opener but jumped up to 66/1 by the end of the group stages. However, two impressive displays against Germany and Ukraine in the knockouts made him the 4/1 favourite. In the end, the award went to the rarely-mentioned Gianluigi Donnarumma thanks to his heroics in the final’s penalty shootout.

To Reach Quarters/Semis/Final

If you have a sense of how long a team might survive at the Euros, betting on them to reach a particular stage might well tempt you. This is a particularly useful bet if you think a longer-odds nation will manage to exceed expectations but are not good enough to win the whole thing. There is almost always one team each European Championship that ticks this box. The semi-finals, yet alone quarter-finals, regularly see one surprise name; in 2020 it was Denmark, in 2016 it was Wales and in 2008 both Russia and Turkey were not expected to go so far.

To Make the Squad

If you are looking to register a profit before the tournament even begins, the ‘make the squad’ market provides you with a prime opportunity. Here you are trying to read the mind of the national team manager and guess which players he will pick before the 26-man squad is confirmed. Bookies do not offer this for most national teams but odds on who will make the England squad will be widely available at the very least.

While you can choose this market to place bets in the immediate build-up to the tournament, it also facilities longer-term bets. Some savvy Arsenal fans, aware of Bukayo Saka’s abilities, backed the youngster to make the England squad at 66/1 at the very start of the 2020/21 season. There is often a player or two that emerges from nowhere to stake a real claim but knowing who this will be is not easy.

UEFA European Championships Key Facts

Euros football

The European Championships sees the finest players on the continent give everything they have got in the pursuit of some prestigious silverware. Having seen so many exceptional talents over the years, a great number of staggering records have been set. Perhaps some of these will be broken in future but many could take several decades.

We will also provide you with all the key European Championships facts, as they are today but just be aware that the format of the competition is open to change. There have been some talks within UEFA that for Euro 2028, the tournament will be expanded to 32 teams. Given that World Cup 2026 has seen an increase in numbers, it does seem a matter of if not when that the Euros follows suit.

  • First Tournament – 1960 held in France
  • How Often – Every four years so 2020, 2024, 2028 and so on
  • When – Mid-June to mid-July
  • Where – No permanent host nation. Usually one or two countries host but in 2020 it took place around the entire continent
  • How Many Teams – Currently 24 but may increase to 32 if UEFA are convinced by the proposal
  • How Many Games – A 24-team tournament sees 51 matches played
  • Most Successful Team – Germany and Spain (as of 2020) both with three wins
  • First Ever European Champions – Soviet Union
  • Player with Most Euros Goals – Five goals at Euro 2020 saw Cristiano Ronaldo’s overall total reach a record-breaking 14
  • Player with Most Goals In One Tournament – Michel Platini somehow netted nine goals in just five games during Euro 1984
  • Team with Most Tournament Appearances – West Germany/Germany have featured in every iteration of the Euros
  • Player with Most Tournament Appearances – This goes to top goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo who has featured in five Euros and could make it six in 2024
  • Youngest Player to Play – Kacper Kozłowski represented Poland against Spain aged just 17 years and 246 days in Euro 2020
  • Oldest Player to Play – Crystal Place cult hero and jogging bottoms lover Gábor Király set this record when playing at 40 years and 86 days old
  • Most Clean Sheets – During his time as Spain keeper, Iker Casillas managed nine Euros finals clean sheets
  • Most Red Cards – This unwanted award goes to Radoslav Látal who was dismissed in both Euro 1996 and 2000

For many European nations, qualifying for the World Cup is too much of an ask but an appearance in the European Championships is distinctly more viable. Only 13 European nations typically go to a World Cup (increasing to 16 for 2026) compared to 24 for the Euros. As mentioned previously, this number may even potentially increase to 32 in the near future.

Expansion of the Tournament

Expansions of this continental tournament, which started with just four teams in the finals, has been a common theme over the decades. Four teams became eight in 1980, then 16 in 1996 before increasing to 24 in 2016. Attendances have increased massively thanks to these expansions, which is part of the reason why raising the number of qualified teams to 32 is of appeal to UEFA.

For now though, 24 teams make it through to the finals of the European Championships. The qualification process involves all full UEFA members, of which there were 55 at the time of writing. Most teams end up qualifying via the ‘direct’ route which is finishing in the top two positions of their qualification table. The remaining few places are then determined by a Nations League performance-linked play-offs. It is through this novel route that North Macedonia were able to qualify for the Euros for the first time ever as an independent nation.

Qualification

Euro 2020 saw an extra qualifying space because there was no designated host nation. Normally, one country hosts the tournament and they automatically qualify for the tournament, meaning there is one less available space up for grabs. Whenever there has been co-hosts in the past, so Ukraine/Poland in 2012 for instance, UEFA has allowed both to qualify automatically.

To determine the qualification groups, teams are ordered by rank and then divided into an appropriate pot. A similar process happens to decide the groups for the competition proper. The best performing qualification group winners enter Pot 1, with the remaining group winners and two best runners-up in Pot 2, and so on. Each finals group will feature one team from each pot. This is largely completely random but UEFA does sometimes prohibit certain draws from happening. In Euro 2020, for instance, Russia were not allowed to face Ukraine.

Older Euro Tournaments

In older Euros tournaments, only the top two teams in their group would advance to the next stage but the increase in participating nations meant changing the format for 2016. What happened instead was that all top-two finishing teams, and the four best performing third-place teams made it through to the next round. This created an additional round (round of 16) in the tournament and an extra game for any hopeful side.

For the group itself, head-to-head results are first used to separate any teams that finish level on points. Should this not settle the deadlock then overall goal difference becomes the deciding factor. As for working out which are the best third-placed teams, overall points are first looked at, then goal difference. A 32-team tournament, if implemented, would remove the need to have any third-placed teams progressing as there would be enough top-two finishers to fill the round of 16.

Extra Time & Penalties

While teams can usually afford to lose a match in the group stages, this does not remain true for the remainder of the tournament. Immediately following the groups nations enter the knockout stages with one-legged clashes determining their fate. As there must be a winner on the day, extra time and penalties will be called upon should two teams be level after 90 minutes. Extra time or a penalty shootout decided eight of the 15 of the Euro 2020 matches including the final.

Euro 2020

Teams set to travel most kilometres for Euro 2020 chart
Source: BBC Sport

It is worth mentioning Euro 2020 again because of its unusual format. Unable to begin as scheduled in the summer of 2020 due to the global health issues, it did manage to appear a year later than initially planned. This was not the only unusual thing about this instalment of this European tournament though as for the first time it was not based in just one or two countries. Instead, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Championships, UEFA opted to have matches feature in stadiums across the continent.

This move to host the tournament across 11 cities from 11 countries was somewhat forced with Turkey the only nation planning a serious bid to host the tournament. While it was a decision that very much split decision at the time, the timing of having a pan-European event could not have been much worse. Not only was the continent still battling to calm the spread of Covid-19 but climate change was also dominating many of the headlines. Consequently, a tournament that forced teams to fly huge distances (see the chart above), did raise some objections.