Mooted in some quarters as the proverbial lottery, the player of the tournament betting still offers some huge value prices, even if the eventual winner may be dictated by, shall we say...reasons other than footballing ones.
Two outstanding and obvious candidates IMO for the Player of the tournament awards in recent International competitions were Wesley Sneijder (World cup 2010) and Fabio Cannavaro (World Cup 2006) yet, the eventual winners were Diego Forlan and the disgraced Zinedine Zidane (after headbutting Marco Materazzi in the final) - an award possibly won before the start of the tournament due to the prospect of a happy ending storyline for the press, after Zidane had announced his upcoming retirement. Laughed at by some pundits during the group games, Zidane showed flashes of brilliance against the Brazilians in the knockout stages and was immediately once again the footballing superstar of old, showing the fickle nature of football.
Trying to predict the Player of the tournament winner is of no use but having small bets on a selection of big odds picks is not a bad approach. Recent winners of the award in the Euros include Xavi (Spain) and Zagorakis (Greece) and a couple of trends to note are the winner often being a midfield player and he almost always comes from a team that reaches the final.
Bastian Schweinsteiger then at 22/1 would fit the bill and is a standout amongst the market leaders. Bastian will pull the strings in midfield for the much fancied Germans and if they are to triumph, he will no doubt play a huge role, and possibly chip in with a goal or two.
Frank Ribery looks a huge price for the French. Now a much fancied "Dark Horse" for the tournament, the French should go well and Ribery has been flying in the warm up friendlies, scoring goals in two of them. Ribery is a now best priced 33/1 for the gong and along with Benzema will be vital to French hopes.
Andrea Pirlo is another player that fits the bill at 80/1. The midfield maestro will pull the Italian strings. All play will be dictated by the veteran and ala Zidane, if the Italians are to reach the final, Pirlo may get the sentimental vote to add to his genius on the pitch.
We're now into triple odds territory and there are a few on my ones to watch list. Another Frenchman, Yohan Cabaye, looks to have booked his place in the starting lineup. Suberb for Newcastle this year, Cabaye, at 200/1 could be the French Theo Zagorakis. If the aforementioned is true, Scott Parker 200/1 could very well be Englands if they are to finally go deep into a tournament. Parker has been sensational over the last couple of years in the Premier League and with he and Gerrard now about to form a well balanced midfield duo, he could be a key cog in the England machine.
Finally, it's on to a team who I think could fly in under the radar and go very well in the tournament. I've already been touting Roman Shirokov as one to watch for many weeks now and have tipped him on the blog to be Russia's top scorer at 16's. He and Andrey Arshavin are likely to be key for the Russian outfit if they are to fulfill their potential and 150/1 on the former and 200/1 on the latter are absolutely huge. Shirokov is a midfield player with a real eye for goal and Arshavin is such big odds after a poor last year at Arsenal, but the little man could turn it on at any time for the National side.