“Goals are likely to be at a premium given Spain have not conceded a goal in their last eight knockout matches. So backing Under 2.5 goals…”
Back Under 1.5 goals at 12/5
Portugal meet Spain this Wednesday evening at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk with the Portuguese seeking revenge for defeat in the 2010 World Cup at the last-16 stage.
On that occasion a solitary David Villa strike won it for the Spanish as they recorded the first of four 1-0 victories that would make them champions of the world. The measured and pragmatic, yet indisputably sublime, nature of their win over France in the quarter-finals of this tournament suggests a similar trajectory towards glory in Poland and Ukraine this summer. Next to undergo a Spanish Inquisition are the Portuguese, but they have some considerable weaponry of their own in the form of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese number seven is perhaps a little unfortunate to be playing in the same era as Lionel Messi. For if the former Manchester United forward had been born, say, a decade earlier or later he would surely be considered the greatest player of his generation. While wrestling that tag from his Barcelona contemporary may prove to be an impossible task, he does this summer, however, have the opportunity to succeed where Messi has repeatedly failed.; to prosper on a stage where Messi’s critics highlight the Argentine’s flaws; to guide his nation, almost single-handedly, to international honours.
The argument against Messi being considered the best player of all time lies in his failure to have produced anywhere near his best in a major tournament for Argentina. Diego Maradona and Pele before him each guided their nation to World Cup glory, now Ronaldo has the opportunity to take Portugal to the European Championship title.
So far Ronaldo has scored three of his country’s six goals at the championships, with an average of 7.5 shots per game, and has been hugely influential in crunch games against Holland then Czech Republic. He is priced at 11/8 to score anytime this Wednesday evening and 5/1 to get the first of the game.
Picking out a goalscorer from the Spanish side is an altogether trickier prospect. Vincente del Bosque has persisted with what is lazily described as a 4-6-0 formation involving no recognised strikers. The formation allows Spain to dominate possession and opens the goalscoring opportunities to almost any player in their side; hence the reason we have seen five different names on the Spanish goalscorer sheets this tournament.
Andres Iniesta has yet to find the back of the net and could be due a goal. If you feel that you must back a Spanish goalsocrer then he may be a good bet at odds of 5/2.
The match odds market is understandably stacked in Spain’s favour with the defending champions priced at odds of 20/21. But the value in relation to the outcome of this game, for me, lies in the 7/4 available on Portugal to qualify.
Goals are likely to be at a premium given Spain have not conceded a goal in their last eight knockout matches. So backing Under 2.5 goals at odds of 1/2 looks prudent, if not entirely enticing. Under 1.5 goals is available to back at a more rewarding 12/5, but comes with the obvious enhanced risk.