Mark O’Haires Euro Tips – Portugal v Austria
Portugal v Austria
Neither Portugal nor Austria began their Euro 2016 campaign with a win, surprisingly failing to see of Group F rivals Iceland and Hungary respectively.
Portugal v Austria, Saturday 18th June 2016, 20.00, BBC1
Austria had high hopes at Euro 2016 after they won nine out of 10 matches in an unbeaten qualifying campaign. And the Alpine outfit almost scored the quickest ever goal at the European Championships, only to see David Alaba’s shot after 28 seconds hit the post.
However, Alaba’s early effort aside, they struggled to live up to the expectation as key forwards Zlatko Junuzovic, Marko Arnautovic and Marc Janko were comfortably marshalled by the Hungary defence.
Junuzovic, who had 10 assists in the Bundesliga as he helped Werder Bremen avoid relegation last season, went off with an ankle injury and head coach Marcel Koller will be concerned by the seriousness of that as well as the lack of cohesion and quality from his side.
Aleksandar Dragovic’s sending off won’t have helped matters and Austria now have it all to do to qualify from the pool. Das Team have W1-D0-L3 in their past four fixtures including friendlies and that sole success came against the lowly lights of Malta.
In fact, Austria’s reverse was their fourth in their last six matches and with only a solitary shutout in nine to their name, Koller is understandably concerned about the plight of his well-fancied outsiders this summer.
Portuguese On Target
Portugal were forced to settle for a 1-1 in their opening game against Iceland, despite dominating the match. The Selecao fired in 26 shots – the most of any nation across the first round Euro 2016 matches – with Cristiano Ronaldo attempting 10.
However, only one of Ronaldo’s efforts was on-target as Fernando Santos’ men failed to fire in the final third. With Portugal not scoring more than twice in 11 of their past 13 matches, profligate finishing remains a worry for Santos but the former Greek boss spoke positively post-match.
Santos said, “We should’ve scored more goals; that’s no secret. There’s always difficulties in the first game. I think we’ll bounce back to play two great matches.”
His confidence is admirable but having guided Greece to just six defeats in 49 matches, the defensively-minded coach knows how to keep teams solid. The football is rarely pretty but it tends to be mightily effective.
Portugal picked up seven successive victories in qualifying – breaking a national record for consecutive competitive wins – with all seven successes by one-goal margins as the Selecao managed just 11 goals en-route to France.
And before the pre-tournament friendlies, the Portuguese had won 12 matches under Santos – 11 of those victories were by one-goal margins with a 2-0 triumph over minnows Luxembourg the exception.
Scoring A Certainty
Since Euro 2012 Portugal have W16-D5-L3 in meaningful matches, scoring in 21 of their 24 competitive clashes.
So we should expect Ronaldo and co to make a breakthrough against a Dragovic-less Austrian defence here.
However, I’m not prepared to completely write off the Austrians. Das Team have scored in 23 of their last 25 outings and should have enough to make their own mark with Both Teams To Score looking the most obvious solution at odds of 20/21.
Both Teams To Score (20/21)
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