Mark O’Haire’s Euro Tips – Poland v Portugal
Poland v Portugal
Euro 2016’s quarter-finals kick-off on Thursday night as Poland and Portugal lock horns in Marseille for a place in the final four in France.
Poland v Portugal, Thursday 30th June 2016, 20.00, ITV & TV3
The Poles have never before reached this stage of the European Championships and Adam Nawalka’s side had to do it the hard way, requiring penalties to see off Switzerland in their last-16 encounter.
The White Eagles dominated the first half of that last 16 contest without managing to kill off the Swiss and soon tired, especially in extra-time. Despite firing in 20 attempts on goal, only five were on target and there remain doubts about their frontline.
Top scorers in qualification, Poland are the lowest scoring side to reach the quarter-finals – scoring just three goals in four games – with Robert Lewandowski yet to notch and Arkadiusz Milik’s finishing eluding the Ajax forward when often well placed.
Coming into the competition, the White Eagles’ attack was lauded and their defensive system questionable but Euro 2016 has seen Poland’s backline defend resolutely with Nawalka’s men yet to trail in the tournament.
Xherdan Shaqiri’s stunner in the last-16 is the only goal which Poland have shipped, and they’ve now churned out an impressive six clean sheets in eight outings. It means all four of their fixtures have featured Under 2.5 Goals winners with three games paying out for Under 1.5 Goals backers.
Looking through the history books, it’s intriguing to note that all 10 of Poland’s previous European Championship matches since 2008 have seen Under 2.5 Goals punters collect
and the White Eagles will certainly fancy their prospects of frustrating the Portuguese on Thursday.
Portugal are the only nation to reach the quarter-finals of the European Championships in every tournament since 1996 – six in succession – and the Selecao now have the opportunity to book a place in the semi-finals for the fifth occasion in seven participations.
Fernando Santos’ men are unbeaten in 11 competitive fixtures (W8-D3-L0) but all eight successes have arrived by a one-goal margin and the Iberians have yet to record a victory in 90 minutes at Euro 2016 (W0-D4-L0).
Portugal were involved in a goalless 90 minutes against Croatia in the last-16 but went through courtesy of a Ricardo Quaresma’s tap-in just three minutes from the conclusion of extra-time in a turgid affair. There were no efforts on target until the goal, creativity was lacking, passes misplaced and the game was blighted by niggly fouls.
Cristiano Ronaldo – scorer of just two goals in 12 knockout matches at major tournaments – looked more frustrated than ever, dropping deep and pulling out wide in a bid to get involved, but the ball to him was cut out more often than not.
Stats Speak For Themselves
The result means Portugal have been involved in 8/11 (73%) Under 1.5 Goals winners since Euro 2004, with only three featuring both sides scoring. Taking the earlier Polish trends into account, a repeat scenario in the Stade Velodrome looks the strongest avenue to pursue. But at 13/10, there’s not a huge amount of value in backing Under 1.5 Goals here.
Between 1980 and 2012, 42% of knockout ties went into extra-time and 30% were decided by penalty shootouts. Indeed, two-thirds of the ties that were level after 90 minutes were still level after 120 minutes so selecting the Draw at 2/1 looks a decent starting point with Poland (17/2) and Portugal (17/2) both were supporting to win on penalties.
Poland to win on penalties (17/2)
Portugal to win on penalties (17/2)
*Prices correct at time of publication