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Back outsiders for darts European Championship in Germany

Michael van Gerwen (9/4 competition favourite with Coral) and Phil Taylor (11/4) are darts’ current top two players in the world right now, but have both fallen short in this European Championship in the last two years.

This will be the seventh edition of the tournament, and third in Mulheim’s RWE-Sporthalle arena in Germany, with the first-place cash prize now up to £55k. The first round of matches on October 24th will be the best of 11 legs.

Second seed and Stoke’s finest Taylor is a four-time European Championship winner, but has not made it past the quarters since his triumph in 2011, but goes up against Steve Beaton up first. The Power has beaten the aptly-named Beaton in 24 of their 26 meetings, and in the final of this competition in 2009 11-3. He is odds-on at 1/7 for victory again, and 4/1 for a 6-1 thrashing.

“I’ve done well in the European Championship before but that means nothing this weekend,” all-time great Taylor said. “I’ve got to make sure I go up there and perform and I’m looking forward to it.”

Dutchman Van Gerwen, the top seed, has yet to make it to the final of this competition, and faces a potentially tricky challenge in the opening round against Justin Pipe, who has won half of the duo’s eight head-to-heads. Mighty Mike is odds-on at 1/5, though, to beat The Force (7/2), and a 7/1 chance to do so 6-5, in a reverse scoreline of their recent meeting in the Players Championship final.

“This is a tournament I’ve never won so I am determined to make it another TV title,” Van Gerwen said. “I’m number one in the world but I need to keep proving that by winning and that’s what I want to do.

“I have a different challenge as it is back to a more normal format and I play Justin Pipe in round one. He has a very different style to me and is a very good player, so I will concentrate on that and we’ll see what happens.”

Two slight outsiders to consider for this tournament are certainly three-time European Championship finalist and title holder Adrian Lewis (11/1) and 2012 winner Simon Whitlock (22/1). This duo were also the last men standing last year. Lewis and Whitlock are terrific 50/1 shouts to reach the final again.

Ahead of the event, Lewis, who starts off against dangerous Dutchman Jelle Klaasen, said: “I’ve been playing consistently well in the floor tournaments recently and I want to push on and take that onto the stage now.

“I’ve got a pretty good record in the European Championship and I’ve reached three finals and won one, but I’ve also lost in the first round a couple of times too!” Lewis added.

“I really enjoy the event, though, because the German fans are great and it’s a fantastic venue to play in.”

Klaasen (5/2 for a first round win), nicknamed The Cobra, has a decent record against Jackpot Lewis (odds-on at 3/10), but has lost his last four against him.

Whitlock, meanwhile, has reached the last two European Championship finals, but faces an unfairly tough first round battle against unseeded Raymond van Barneveld. Barney may not be fully fit going into this, though, after injuring his back at the World Grand Prix.

“I’m really looking forward to the European Championship and I always seem to do well in it,” Whitlock said. “It was the scene of my first PDC major title and that makes me incredibly proud and I put up a great defence last year, but Adrian Lewis was in unstoppable form.

“I’m still looking to win that second TV title and this is a tournament I feel very comfortable in, but I’ve been handed a very tough first round tie against Raymond van Barneveld.

“I don’t see that in a negative way though because if I win it my confidence will go through the roof, which will put me in a good place for the rest of the tournament.

The Aussie Wizard is the slight favourite, odds-on at 4/5, with victories in his last three encounters with the Premier League champion (evens). Their last best-of-11 meeting, at the PDC European Tour, unsurprisingly finished 6-5 (with Whitlock winning), so back that close scoreline in his favour again at 6/1.

First round fixtures in order, live on ITV4 from 12.45 UK time
Wes Newton v Ian White
Vincent van der Voort v Robert Wagner
Rowby-John Rodriguez v Robert Thornton
Jamie Caven v Mensur Suljovic
Brendan Dolan v Michael Smith
Dave Chisnall v Jyhan Artut
Dean Winstanley v Kim Huybrechts
Christian Kist v Mervyn King
Peter Wright v Benito van de Pas
Andy Hamilton v Stephen Bunting
Gary Anderson v Terry Jenkins
James Wade v Ronny Huybrechts
Adrian Lewis v Jelle Klaasen
Michael van Gerwen v Justin Pipe
Phil Taylor v Steve Beaton
Simon Whitlock v Raymond van Barneveld