Euro 2016 has seen some of the continent’s biggest names take games by the scruff of the neck and for the first of the quarter finals all eyes are likely to be on Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo as Poland face off against Portugal in the first of the quarter finals of Euro 2016. And what an opportunity it is for the successful nation, with a semi-final against Belgium or Wales ahead for a spot in the final.
Ronaldo has had a frustrating start to the Championships but his two goals against Hungary sent Portugal through and he set up Ricardo Quaresma’s late winner against Croatia, if not unintentionally as Nani had found him to set up the 1-on-1 that gave him the free header into the net. The rest of the side hasn’t quite come to play and they’ve made the last four despite having had no win in 90 minutes during the tournament.
They were not particularly impressive against Croatia in one of the poorest games of the tournament, when both sides cancelled each other out from an early stages and accuracy was non existent – There were no efforts on target until the goal in the 117th minute.
Portugal had been forcing the issue during the group stages, battering Iceland with 27 shots on their goal whilst dominating their game with Austria – both matches that they should have won in truth – but against Croatia a reactive midfield ceded the majority of possession and what came on in the way of a chance through the game – with defender Vida missing three of the game’s best chances outside of the goal.
There is a feeling that Poland haven’t played to their full potential during the tournament despite taking seven points from Group C and that belief was reinforced by their late collapse against Switzerland in a game when they were indebted to Lukas Fabianski for keeping Switzerland to just Xherdan Shaqiri’s master overhead kick. The Poles had gone ahead on the counter attack through the excellent Jakub Blaszczykowski, albeit it was a goal that came through poor defending from the Swiss who dominated in the second half and through extra time.
Whilst Poland have defended well and boast an excellent shot stopper in the shape of Szczesny, the biggest worry for backers like us on at tasty pre tournament price would be the lack of potency upfront. Poland were not shy of shooting against Switzerland – they had 20 attempts at goal, but only five were on target – and Arkadiusz Milik has continually failed to make the most of the numerous chances that he’s had in the space that has been afforded by the constant marking of Lewandowski.
If Poland are to go to the final – or even past Portugal – that has to change here but they have been consistently creating the chances that one would expect from the highest scoring side in qualifying and had golden chances against Germany too.
Portugal’s resilience is to be admired but they look short at 5/4 given that they are yet to win a game and of the three match outcomes the draw – the two nations have five between them so far – would be favoured. The Shaqiri goal was the first that Poland had conceded through the tournament and there was no shot on target in 90 minutes in Portgual’s game last week. No goalscorer looks a trade worth having at 11/2 here with a hedge on Portugal winning in extra time at 11/1.
1 pt / Back to lay No Goalscorer (11/2 general)
1 pt Portugal to win in Extra time (11/1 Skybet)