Portugal and Poland battle it out for a semi-final place on Thursday night.
Poland v Portugal - Thursday 30th June, 20:00
Two of the greatest players in the world square off on Thursday for a chance to face Wales or Belgium in the semi-final of Euro 2016. Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski hasn’t set this tournament alight yet but he showed his class by stepping up to take Poland’s opening penalty in their shootout win over Croatia. Portugal looked like they might need penalties to reach the quarters also but their star-man Cristiano Ronaldo made the winning goal for Ricardo Quaresma as extra-time drew to a close against the much-fancied Spain-conquering Croatia. At the time of writing, it looks as if the four other quarter-finalists in the other half of the draw will be France, Germany, Spain/Italy and England so avoiding all five of those teams is a huge bonus for both of these sides as they both search for maiden European Championship wins.
Portugal have reached the quarter-finals without winning a match. They’ve tied all of their four games in the tournament (after 90 minutes) despite being the higher-ranked side, as they are here, each time. Their recent record against teams they are ranked 1-10 places higher than in all matches is a very encouraging W7-D2-L1. The Iberians went out in the group stage of Brazil 2014 but that was the first Finals tournament that they’ve failed to reach the knockout stage at since 2002. They’ve played 11 knockout matches since Euro 2004 and an incredible eight of them, including the last four, have had Under 1.5 Goals while just three saw both teams net.
That Shaqiri goal is the only one that Poland have conceded this tournament. Their three group stage games had Under 1.5 Goals and all of their 10 Finals matches since 2008 have had Under 2.5 Goals. The 1-1 draw (after 90 minutes) against Switzerland extended Poland’s poor record against teams ranked 11-20 to W1-D6-L5 in their last 12 fixtures though.
Since England 1996, there have been 22 knockout matches at the European Championships between teams separated by fewer than 10 ranking places and a staggering 12 have been tied after 90 minutes. The higher-ranked team has won seven of the games with the underdogs picking up just three victories. The most common scoreline in these games has been 0-0 (eight times) while 12 have been goalless at the break and 10 ended with fewer than two goals.
This game looks like it’ll go in a similar fashion to most of the matches we’ve seen so far in this tournament with neither side budging an inch despite great attacking talent on show. Neither Lewandowski or Ronaldo have had much of the ball in their matches so far and we aren’t scared to back unders despite their presence. All markets correlated to unders here interest us including Both Teams Not to Score, a drawn match after 90 minutes and a goalless opening 45 but our strongest selection is for another Euro 2016 nil nil.