Thursday night sees the opening quarter-final of the European Championship and Jake Jackman returns with a preview and his selections to follow.
Thursday 30th June 2016 – 20:00 BST
EURO 2016 – QUARTER-FINAL
POLAND v PORTUGAL
The first quarter final sees Poland come up against Portugal in what will be an intriguing clash, with neither side favourites for this one. Both sides had to go the whole 120 minutes in their round of 16 matches, although Portugal managed to get a late goal to avoid penalties. The last two meetings between these two sides ended in a draw and this match will be similarly tight, with both sides eager to make the semi-finals, which would be an extraordinary achievement. Portugal are favourites due to their star quality and their experience in the latter stages of competitions, which Poland don’t possess.
Their competition so far has been convincing for Poland, getting two wins and two draws. They haven’t lost yet in this competition and have only conceded once, which happened to be the goal of the tournament contender from Xherdan Shaqiri. Their defence has looked strong and Lukasz Fabianski has put in some great performances since replacing Wojciech Szczesny in the side. They have been far from perfect, with Robert Lewandowski struggling to have the desired impact, instead the Poles have relied on Jakub Blaszczykowski and Arkadiusz Milik in the final third. They have only scored three goals at this tournament and that will be a concern going into the quarter final.
Portugal have been criticised a lot in this tournament and are the only remaining side in the competition not to win a match in 90 minutes. Although they are also yet to lose and have looked good in parts. Their round of 16 match wasn’t a classic, with Ricardo Quaresma’s winner being the first shot of target and that came at the very end of extra time. They did manage to knock out the much fancied Croatia. Portugal looked a lot better defensively after a disappointing final group game against Hungary and they will be hoping to take that into the quarter final. Throughout the tournament, they have looked a lot better with Renato Sanches on the pitch and it will be interesting to see if he starts on Thursday evening.
In terms of tips, I think this is going to be a very tight game that goes the distance, as both defences are strong and neither attack look like scoring many goals. I don’t expect a bore 0-0 though like Portugal’s last match, as they will look to attack more as they aren’t the underdogs in this one. Both sides to score is an attractive bet, and it would fit the pattern of Portugal’s games to date, with the first being a score draw, the second being a goalless draw and so on.
As I said above, I think this game will go to extra time and Portugal are the more likely to triumph in such a situation. Poland faded badly in their round of 16 match against Switzerland, and were dominated in the second half and extra time. Portugal managed to get a winner against Croatia, and that will have boosted their confidence after failing to get a win all group stage. Portugal to win in extra time is a good bet.
TIP: Draw (3.00 at BetVictor)
TIP: Portugal to qualify in extra-time (12.00 at Bet Bright)
TIP: Both Teams To Score (2.50 at Bet365)