In the second of Tuesday’s games, Portugal face Iceland and Jake Jackman looks at the best way to make a profit in this encounter.
Tuesday 14th June 2016 – 20:00 BST
EURO 2016 – GROUP F
PORTUGAL vs. ICELAND
Portugal open their tournament against a very good Iceland side, who did very well in qualifying and could shock a few sides at their first international tournament. They were part of the reason why the Netherlands aren’t at this tournament and shouldn’t be underestimated by Portugal. The Portuguese are known for losing against much smaller nations, as they did against Albania in qualifying, and this group has three sides that fit a similar profile. A lot will be riding on Cristiano Ronaldo, who will be eager to make an impact on the international stage. This could be his last realistic chance of winning a trophy with his nation.
Against England, Portugal looked functional and nothing more than that. Although they were missing Pepe and Cristiano Ronaldo, I expect them to play a similar way in France. They will look to keep things tight at the back and give the foundations for the likes of Ronaldo, Nani and Ricardo Quaresma to get a goal at the other end. Their coach, Fernando Santos, did well at the World Cup with Greece and he will look to do even better with the talent he has at his disposal with Portugal. Renato Sanches could start and that is exciting for all football fans, as he is a complete midfielder going to the very top of the game. He is tactically aware and is mature beyond his years.
Iceland are a good unit, who are greater than the sum of their parts. Their best two players will be familiar to many as they both ply their trade in England. Gylfi Sigurdsson is their key man, with everything going through him, while he scores frequently for his nation. Their other creative player is Johann Berg Guðmundsson, who currently plays for Charlton, and grabbed 11 assists in the Championship, the joint most in the division. Eidur Gudjohnsen is a familiar name to English fans as well and he is one of the oldest players at the tournament at the age of 37.
Both of these sides will be confident of qualifying for the knockout stages, and this should be a competitive fixture. A lot will depend on how fit Cristiano Ronaldo is, as he looked a shadow of his normal self in the Champions League final, and those 120 minutes may have caused more harm to his body. I expect it to be a tight affair, but Portugal should have the quality to overcome Iceland.
In terms of tips, I fancy Portugal to win the match, as they will be well drilled and difficult to break down. In Danilo and William Carvalho, they have two defensive midfielders capable of neutralising the threat of Sigurdsson, while they do have goals in attack, especially if Ronaldo shows up. I’m not expecting a great show from the Portuguese as they will be more functional rather than flash, but that should be enough in this opening game. We will really see what they are made of when they come up against a very good Austria side.