Soccer fans were in Euro withdrawal as Wednesday marked the first day without games. But the cure comes Thursday as Group A winners Czech Rep. take on Group B runners-up Portugal
After both nations delivered clutch performances in their final group stage matches, they will face each other in European competition for the second straight tournament.
At Euro 2008 in Geneva, Portugal defeated the Czechs 3-1 in group stage action, while the more memorable meeting between the two was at Euro 96 when the Czechs defeated the Portuguese 1-0 at the same junction as they meet now, courtesy of a beautiful lob from Karel Poborsky.
After shutting down the Netherlands in a strong display that saw the team clinch second place in the Group of Death, Portugal comes into the game the considerable favourite. The Portuguese have advanced to the knockout stage in the last five European Championships, the longest streak of any team, and to win in 90 minutes they are paying 1.75. To simply advance no matter how they do it (regulation/extra-time/penalties), the payout is 1.36; not really good value for your money.
The team will need another inspired performance from Cristiano Ronaldo, who is paying 5.00 to score either the first or last goal in the match, and 2.25 to do it any time. Should striker Helder Postiga notch the first or last, he'll payout 8.00, while the any time to score bet sees him offered at 3.25. Nani offers some better value at 10.00 for the first or last while the any time is at 4.00.
The draw result after 90 minutes is at 3.40 over at Ladbrokes.com
After getting decimated 4-1 by Russia in their opener, the Czechs have rebounded with two consecutive wins against Greece and Poland and listed at 5.00 to win in regulation, while the odds for advancement are at 3.00, which will raise a few eyebrows for a few bettors.
What may hurt their chances is the possible loss of star midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who is listed as doubtful and will be a game time decision.
In order to win, Michal Bilek's men must calm down and not play into Portugal's game. The Czechs are one of the most aggressive teams of the tournament with 61 fouls committed (tied for first) with six yellow
cards (tied for fourth).
Should they continue that trend against a Portuguese side who know how to exploit rough tackles to their advantage, they could find themselves in trouble, particularly in dead ball situations where Ronaldo and Postiga are very dangerous. If the first goal is scored by a header or any other part of the body
from either team, the pay out is 4.50.
Despite advancing with a negative goal difference, the Czechs have scored in every one of their games. Couple that with Portugal's five goals for along with the fact that they have conceded a goal in all their matches, the both teams to score bet could pay off and is offered at 1.83, though you can get much better value should both teams score and Portugal win which is set at 4.33.
Here is one more bet to ponder. Should Portugal lead at anytime by a 2-0 scoreline, regardlless of the final result, they would pay a decent 3.25.
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