Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Prediction: Poland vs Portugal

Verdict: Portugal to qualify

Best Odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: William Hill

Poland held off challenge from Switzerland to win the Last 16 stage tie on penalties, but they are likely to face another difficult task against star-studded Portugal side. The Selecao were quite fortunate to progress following yet another under-par showing, but maybe they will finally produce the performance we all know they are capable of.

Poland

Poland arrived at the tournament finals high on spirits following some very good performances in the qualifiers, but it is fair to say the team did not impress in France. The White Eagles have largely struggled in the build up play, which resulted in mere three goals scored in four matches, but they were able to make each of those strikes count, keeping three clean sheets in the process. However, while they did well to hold Germany to a goalless draw, Poland were well below par against Northern Ireland and Ukraine, and they had a big smile from Lady Luck in the final group game as Ukraine had missed a host of clear-cut chances before Jakub Blaszczykowski came to the rescue. The former Borussia Dortmund star was on the scoresheet in the first knockout stage as well, helping his side overcome Switzerland after penalty shoot-out, but it is clear that Poland will have to show a massive improvement if they are to pip Portugal to the semi-final berth. The fact that their top scorer Robert Lewandowski has yet to find the net in France is obviously a major cause for concern, with other star attacher Arkadiusz Milik also struggling for form.

Team News

There have been no fresh selection worries for coach Adam Nawalka, who is widely expected to field an unchanged side to that which beat Switzerland.

Portugal

Portugal have undergone a real resurgence under current coach Fernando Santos and having finished the qualifying campaign with seven straight wins, the Selecao were tipped to fight for the title at the Euro 2016 finals. And while they appear to be in a very good position at the moment, the fact of the matter is that their performances have been well below expectations. Portugal squeezed into the Last 16 stage with three draws in the group stage, as they came from behind three times to secure a 3-3 stalemate against Hungary. The Selecao showed little to no improvement in the knockout stage clash with Croatia, but they eventually emerged victorious as Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma combined to score the winner in the dying moments of extra time. However, just like their next opponents, Portugal desperately need to show improvement if they want to remain in the competition, but we have a feeling the players will step up the plate against Poland and finally show everyone what they are capable of. The Selecao have a unique opportunity to mount a serious title challenge and the players can be trusted to give their best to try and win this game.

Team News

Fernando Santos is sweating over the fitness of Raphael Guerreiro and Andre Gomes, who are both rated doubtful with muscle injuries.

Meanwhile, Renato Sanches and Ricardo Quaresma are pushing for starting positions after impressing against Croatia.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Over 2.5 goals were scored in three of last four meetings between the two sides
  • Both sides are unbeaten at Euro 2016 finals
  • Poland kept three clean sheets in four matches in France
  • Each of Portugal’s four matches ended in draw after regular time
  • Poland scored mere three goals so far

Conclusion

Even if they now have the opportunity to fight for a place in the semis, both sides have been pretty disappointing so far. But, seeing as how Portugal have got a lot more room for improvement and more individual quality, we are backing the Selecao to progress.

Verdict: Portugal to qualify

Best Odds: 4/7

Bookmaker: William Hill

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