A battle between neighbours takes place this week in Euro 2012, as Portugal and Spain go head-to-head for a place in the European Championship final.
Here we preview the betting on the match and give our top tips on where the value lies. Having consistently underachieved in tournaments in the past, Portugal seem primed for a big performance against arch rivals on Wednesday with star player Cristiano Ronaldo coming into form at just the right time. The Real Madrid striker is in the running for the Golden Boot against Mario Gomez but that will just be a side-show in comparison to the top honour in Poland/Ukraine.
Despite being in control for most of their matches, this Spanish side has been accused of being boring and predictable, a criticism which is unlikely to phase manager Del Bosque who is purely motivated by results. Having opted for fairly benign attacking tactics, replaced by the typical Spanish game, Del Bosque’s side haven’t exactly been free scoring in this tournament.
It’s no surprise to see Spain installed as odds on favourites to make the final of this tournament in Poland/Ukraine, yet many pundits have been boasting the claims of a well organised and skilful Portuguese side. Their 1-0 win over Czech Republic was deceptive in score line, with Portugal having a number of guilt edged opportunities which they failed to capitalise on. Having barely made it out of their own half for the majority of the game, it was clear to see the gulf in class between the Czech Rep and Portugal.
Similar to this, Spain were the classier outfit in their quarter-final battle against a poor French side, who seemed inept at going forward and possibly worse at defending. The toughest test for Del Bosque’s side so far in this tournament was their opening match against Italy, a lesson which Portugal’s manager may learn from.
So where does the value lie in this intriguing battle?
It’s no surprise that Cristiano Ronaldo has been in top form in this tournament considering his goal scoring feats in La Liga last season. As mentioned above he’s bidding for the Golden Boot against Spain and it will take a miracle to keep him off the scoresheet which means that 11/8 on the Portugal captain to score anytime or 5/1 on him to score first are the value bets of this encounter.
Elsewhere, I think that the bookies have underestimated the ability of Portugal in this encounter and I think that Portugal +1 at 5/6 offers decent value for a punter looking for a safe bet. Spain’s defence has been solid enough in this tournament so far but it will get tested to its full limit if Ronaldo is in form this week and judging by what has come before, it could be a case of Spain v Ronaldo in this entertaining Euro 2012 semi-final.